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Research group

Interdisciplinary Musculoskeletal Health

4 Stained femur cross sections

The University hosts a substantial interdisciplinary community of researchers working to transform musculoskeletal health across the life course.


With expertise in regenerative medicine, physiology, engineering, orthopaedics, prosthetics and orthotics, rehabilitation and assistive technologies, epidemiology and clinical trial design, we aim to improve lives by delivering improved treatments, increasing the speed to market of musculoskeletal-focused technology and training the next generation of scientists and engineers. 

The population across the globe is living longer, which brings a number of healthcare challenges, especially in musculoskeletal health. The burden of age-related disease and injury is rising rapidly, having a detrimental impact on people’s quality of life and increasing the costs of healthcare provision. Loss of muscle mass and function is the leading reason for loss of independence in later life, and causes impaired mobility, falls, fractures, physical disability, increased insulin resistance and associated co-morbidities, and mortality. The number of hip fractures is expected to rise to 6.3 million by 2050 and the number of diabetic lower limb amputations has now risen to 7,000 per year in the UK and over 70,000 in the USA. 

The University is working to meet these challenges by creating networks of experts working in interdisciplinary musculoskeletal health research to develop new technologies, interventions and practices that will have a positive effect on people’s lives:

  • FortisNet is an interdisciplinary research network of clinical, academic and industrial partners that aims to develop products and services to transform musculoskeletal health. Launched in 2016, we have fostered over 50 new collaborations with other universities from across the UK, the NHS and industry. We have developed courses with national partners to help innovators understand how to bring medical technologies to market, and through investment in interdisciplinary studentships we are working to dissolve discipline boundaries, to train a new generation of life scientists and engineers for the benefit of society.
  • MyAge (Muscle resilience across the life course: from cells to society) is one of eleven UK Ageing Networks, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Medical Research Council. Led by the Institute for Life Sciences, together with partners from Birmingham, Nottingham and Imperial, the network will guide the future of muscle resilience research through roadmap development and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Research highlights

Preventing the transmission of non-communicable disease risk between generations

Research from the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Centre demonstrates how the diet and lifestyle choices of prospective parents and pregnant mothers can affect the long-term health of their children.

Using nanoclay gel to regrow, repair and replace damaged cells

Southampton researchers have developed an innovative medical clay that can be used to apply regenerative medicine to patients with musculoskeletal conditions.

People, projects and publications


Dr Claire Clarkin

Assoc Prof in Develpmtl & Skeltl Biology
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Dr Colleen Deane

Lecturer in Muscle Cell Biology
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Professor Cyrus Cooper

Prof Rheumatology Clinical Epidemiology

Research interests

  • Key research contributions have been:
  • discovery of the developmental influences which contribute to the risk of osteoporosis and hip fracture in late adulthood
  • demonstration that maternal vitamin D insufficiency is associated with sub-optimal bone mineral accrual in childhood
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Dr Danielle Lambrick

Associate Professor

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Dr Dianna Smith

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Small-area estimation for policy analysis

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Dr Dorit Kunkel


Research interests

  • Parkinson's Disease rehabilitation
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Physical Activity

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Dr Emma Cowley PhD FFPM RCPS(Glasg) FRCPodM FHEA CSci

Senior Teaching Fellow

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Dr Franchesca Houghton

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Pluripotent stem cells
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Preimplantation embryo development

Accepting applications from PhD students

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Related research institutes, centres and groups

Related research institutes, centres and groups

Connect with us

We welcome new members. To join, or find out more about FortisNet or MyAge, please email the Institute for Life Sciences team.