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Dr James Bell

Dr James Bell

Research Associate

School of Optometry and Vision Sciences


I am a researcher working within the Structural Biophysics Group. 

My research is based upon elucidating the relationship between the fine structure of connective tissue and its physiological role, with a focus on the cornea. To achieve this I use techniques wsuch as synchrotron X-ray scattering and nonlinear microscopy in conjunction with physiologically-relevant biomechanical testing to visualise the morphology of tissues over a wide range of hierarchical scales. Through an understanding of molecular-scale changes associated with disease and therapy, my ambition is to drive the development of better treatments for pathologies of connective tissue.

I am presently employed on a UK Medical Research Council Grant (S037829/1), and a major part of my work involves leading the development of the new Biomechanics Facility on the I22 beamline at Diamond Light Source (the UK synchrotron). The remit of the facility is to make mechanical testing of tissue in the beamline (thus probing the hierarchical response of tissue to load) more accessible, by providing the apparatus and scripts to perform a wide range of experiments. This facility is user-led and incorporates a network of academics with an interest in connective tissue biomechanics and/or connective tissue structure. If you would like to know more about the facility I would love to hear from you.



2006: BSc Mathematics and Physics, Class I, University of Exeter

2010: PhD Physics, 'The relationship between the structure and mechanical properties of articular cartilage'.

Career overview

2015 - present: Research Associate, Cardiff University.

2010 - 2015: Associate Research Fellow / Research Fellow, University of Exeter

Honours and awards

2012: 62nd British Microcirculation Society Meeting - 2nd Joint Meeting with the American Microcirculation Society. 'Structural changes in loaded blood vessels'. Best Technology Abstract.

Speaking engagements

2015: British Association for Surgery of the Knee Spring Conference. 'Morphological and chemical changes in human articular cartilage following RF coblation chondroplasty'. The International Centre, Telford 

2014: British Microcirculation Society Young Investigators Conference. 'Nonlinear microscopy as a probe of blood vessel micromechanics'. University of Warwick.

Committees and reviewing

2015 - present: Member of IT Committee












My research involves quantifying the mechanical properties of ocular tissue, and relating my findings to micro- and nano-structure. I analyse mechanical and microstructural changes associated with ocular diseases, treatment, and corrective surgery.

My past work includes assessment of treatment methodologies for cartilage treatment in osteoarthritis, and elucidating the effect of diabetes mellitus on the microvasculature.