Dr Hannah Shaw

Dr Hannah Shaw

Senior Lecturer

School of Biosciences

+44 (0)29 2087 9383
+44 (0)29 2087 4372
Sir Martin Evans Building, Museum Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3AX

Research overview

The focus of my currrent scientific research relates to the role of adipose tissue and fascia in the musculoskeletal system.  This interest developed from my PhD which focussed on entheses (attachements of tendons and ligaments to bone) and the importance of adipose tissue at these sites.  As a professional tutor I also undertake pedagogic research. At present I am investigating the use and impact of online tutorials for student practical class preparation.

I graduated from Cardiff University in 2004 with 1st class honours degree in Anatomical Sciences, and the Fritz Jacoby prize.  Following this I remained within Cardiff to pursue a PhD funded by the Anatomical Society (AS) supervised by Prof Mike Benjamin, Dr Rob Santer and Dr Alan Watson.  During this time I was the first student member to serve on the Council of the society.  The study focussed on the structure, development and pathology of entheses, focussing principally on the calcaneal (Achilles) tendon.

During my PhD I spent a month in the AO research institute in Davos, Switzerland working with Dr Stephan Milz.

After completing my doctoral degree in 2007, I was appointed as a Professional Tutor specialising mainly in anatomical education.  In 2010, I was part of the first cohort to complete the postgraduate 'Anatomy Training Program' co-ordinated by the Anatomical Society and the American Association of Anatomists.  I am also currently a member of the Anatomical Society, where I serve on the Education Committee, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA).

My PhD focussed primarily on the structure, function, and pathology of entheses, specifically on the calcaneal (Achilles) tendon enthesis organ.  An enthesis is the site of attachment of a tendon, ligament or joint capsule to bone. However, at most sites, entheses are not isolated structures; they are frequently associated with other components including adipose tissue and synovium.  My PhD illustrated that although entheses are common sites of pain in pathology, under normal conditions, the enthesis itself and associated fibrocartilages are avascular and aneural.  The related adipose tissue, however, is highly innervated and may therefore play a role in proprioception, and potentially be a source of pain in enthesopathies.  From this research I have developed an interest in the functional role of adipose tissue in the musculoskeletal system and have recently supervised projects which investigated the structure and development of the plantar fat pads.

Since starting as a Professional Tutor I have developed a keen interest in the use of online tutorials.  In particular, with regard to their use by students to improve satisfaction and performance in practical classes.  At present this study is focussing primarily on anaotmical teaching the dissection room, but hopefully in future will branch out to other science disciplines.

Research links