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UCL Centre for Nerve Engineering


Matthew Wilcox

  • PhD Student


I am a UCL medical student taking time out of the conventional training pathway to integrate a PhD focused on surgical science with my ongoing clinical and surgical training.

My PhD project has 2 specific aims:

  • To further our understanding of the mechanisms that underpin human nerve regeneration
  • To validate novel clinical outcome measures that can better monitor and inform surgical management of Peripheral Nerve Injury (PNI) patients.

PNI is a common condition that renders partial or complete paralysis of the segment of the body involved typically secondary to a traumatic event such as vehicular collision.

At present, the gold standard for treatment of PNI is a nerve autograft achieved through an invasive surgical procedure. This is associated with disadvantages such as harvesting sacrificable healthy nerve which can leave the patient with chronic pain or reduced functional capacity.

Whilst lower animal studies have significantly advanced our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that underpin the regenerative capacity of the peripheral nervous system, this knowledge greatly outweighs the clinical options currently available to clinicians and their patients. This can be at least partially attributed to the limited research available investigating human nerve injury.

The principle of my research is to translate key findings of animal work in a human model of nerve injury. In addition, my project also serves to validate novel clinical outcome measures in rodents which may better inform both the management and treatment of nerve injury in humans.

This project also benefits from new and existing collaborations with UCL affiliated hospitals and medical imaging groups. Combined, this will provide both the patient populous and clinical expertise to further validate the aforementioned outcome measures in a cohort of nerve injury patients.

Funding Sources: Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital

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