Musculoskeletal Tissue Regeneration

ESR project


Title of Project

The possible role of stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles in articular regeneration in an equine model

We offer

A 4-year PhD student position in the interdisciplinary area of regenerative medicine. Your project will focus on the role of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in regeneration of articular tissues and, related to this, regulation of joint homeostasis.

We ask

You hold a Master’s degree in biomedical sciences, medicine, veterinary science or in a related area. You have affinity with a clinical environment and are sure you will thrive in a fascinating, but demanding multidisciplinary research environment. Experience with horses is a plus, but not a requirement.


The Department of Equine Sciences at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Utrecht University will be your home institution, but the work will be carried out in the strongly multidisciplinary environment of the Regenerative Medicine Center Utrecht (RMCU) and the wider conglomerate of Utrecht Life Sciences (ULS).


Joint disorders are a major and increasing burden in human healthcare. They are also of primary importance in equine medicine, which is one of the reasons why the horse is seen as one of the best animal models for human orthopaedic disorders. Recent research has shown that EVs play an important role in joints in the regulation of inflammation in particular and in the maintenance of homeostasis in a more general sense. Stem cells are thought to play an important role in tissue regeneration and are, with varying success, already applied in orthopaedic diseases in both the medical and the veterinary field.  Little is known yet about the exact mechanisms through which stem cells exert their influence and there is increasing interest in the possible role of stem cell-derived EVs herein, as EVs have several practical and regulatory advantages for translation to the clinic compared to cell-based therapies. The current project focuses at elucidating possible roles and working mechanisms behind these of stem cell-derived EVs in both normal joint homeostasis and in a variety of approaches aiming at tissue regeneration. The research uses the horse as a model and aims to reach out towards both the equine and human clinic. The project will be carried out in a multidisciplinary setting including basic science and (human and veterinary) clinical sciences.


  • You have a Master in biomedical sciences, medicine, or veterinary science, or in a related area.
  • You have affinity with a clinical environment.
  • You are a person with excellent communication skills, able to effectively communicate scientific ideas and foster collaborations. You have a well-developed capability for independent thinking and are able to work independently within a dynamic team and be proficient in written and spoken English.
  • Experience with horses is a plus, but not a requirement.

Contact person & more information

Prof. P.R. van Weeren, Utrecht University


This project is part of RESCUE, a multidisciplinary, intersectoral and interdisciplinary PhD training programme in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells organised by UMC Utrecht (coordinator) and Utrecht University. RESCUE is partly funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND scheme. There are specific requirements with regards to English language and mobility for candidates who would like to take part in this programme. More information