Dr Jen Edwards

Dr Jen Edwards

Profile

In my current role, I work within the cross-disciplinary Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE) and have responsibilities in both the School of Biomedical Engineering Faculty of Biological Sciences) and the School of Mechanical Engineering (Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences).

I joined iMBE as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and worked in this capacity for almost 8 years.  During this time, I gained recognition as an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Authority by completing the University of Leeds Teaching Award and studied for a PGCert in Professional Innovation Management, using my research projects as case studies. My educational background includes a PhD in Biosciences from the University of Sheffield (confirmed 2013) as part of the White Rose Doctoral Training Centre. The training for my PhD allowed me to transition from my undergraduate studies (BSc Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science, University of Sheffield, 2007) into a tissue engineering research lab. This transition and my PhD research prepared me to move forward to my postdoctoral position working on acellular scaffolds.

Research interests

The main focus of my research is using acellular scaffolds to provide regenerative therapies for musculoskeletal tissues and improve our understanding of such treatments. This is carried out within the Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (iMBE, https://www.imbe.leeds.ac.uk/). Treatments for musculoskeletal disorders are important to ensure that people are able to remain healthy and active for many years. I have previously being involved in the development, characterisation and testing of ligamentous scaffolds for repair of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). My current work focuses on two decellularised tissue types; bone-tendon composites and adipose tissue.

  1. Bone-tendon composites: repair of damage to small ligaments, such as those in the ankle. The composite scaffold of bone-tendon tissue could provide an off-the-shelf option for surgical reconstruction which provides a lower immune response compared cellular donor tissues.
  2. Adipose tissue: Adipose (fat) plays many important roles within the body, including energy storage, insulation and biomechanical support. In the foot, several fat pads exist which play a role in shock absorption during normal movement, but these pads can deteriorate (atrophy) with age. In diabetic patients, changes in these fat pads combined with neuropathy (loss of sensation) and ischaemia (inadequate blood flow) can lead to development of diabetic foot ulcers. Treatment of these ulcers and their later complications places a huge burden on the NHS and impacts on patient’s quality of life. Restoration of these fat pads could help delay the onset of these ulcers and allow people to remain healthy and active. Other applications for this technology could include tissue reconstruction following mastectomy. 

In addition to developing new treatment options for musculoskeletal disorders, I seek to understand how these scaffolds function once they are implanted to encourage regeneration, Not only could a deeper understanding of the regenerative mechanisms at work with decellularised scaffolds uncover new clinical applications, they could be used to develop in vitro models of healthy and diseased tissues. These models could allow us to test new treatments, provide new pre-clinical evidence for the technology and understand how cells in normal and diseased tissues differ.

To find out more about the Institute of Medical & Biological Engineering's research visit imbe.leeds.ac.uk

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://biologicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Qualifications

  • Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Authority (2015)
  • PGCert Professional Innovation Management (2014)
  • PhD Biosciences (2013)
  • MSc Studies at the Life Sciences/Physical Sciences Interface (2010)
  • BSc Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science (2007)

Professional memberships

  • Tissue and Cell Engineering Society
  • British Orthopaedic Research Society

Student education

Teaching areas:

Tissue structure and function, Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials, Extracellular Matrix Biology. 

Postgraduate research:

Sterilisation of decellularised tissue scaffolds

Interplay of biological and biomechancial effects of decellularisation

Composite scaffolds for ligamentous tissue repair

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>