Dr Jonathan Dawson


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Job title: Research Fellow
Division: Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and Regeneration
Organisation: University of Southampton
Tags: Fellowship: Early Career Fellowship, University of Southampton
Related theme: Healthcare technologies


I am a translational stem cell biologist exploring the application of novel biomaterial strategies for regenerative medicine. I undertook my PhD in bone regeneration at the University of Southampton and completed postdoctoral positions in the field of translational stem cell biology and biomaterials.

My Fellowship

Jon leads a team exploring how gels formed from clay nanoparticles could be harnessed to create injectable tissues that would develop from stem cells in situ and eliminate, in many situations, the need for surgery.

Essential to harnessing the potential of stem-cells to regenerate tissue is the ability to carefully control their local biological environment. The open structures of conventional scaffolds or gels means their ability to control the biological molecules present in the local environment is limited. The ability of clay nanoparticles to bind such molecules presents a unique opportunity to create local environments at a site of injury or disease that could stimulate and control stem cell driven repair.

That molecules stick to clay has been known by scientists since the 1960s. Doctors observed that absorption into the blood stream of certain drugs was severely reduced when patients were also receiving clay-based antacid or anti-diarrheal treatments. This curious phenomenon was realised to be due to binding of the drugs by clay particles. This interaction is now routinely harnessed in the design of tablets to carefully control the release and action of a drug.

Combined with the ability of certain clay nanoparticles to self- organise into gels, Jon’s group is seeking to use this property of clay to create injectable micro-environments that could stimulate stem cells to regenerate damaged tissues such as bone and skin.

Motivation to apply

My EPSRC Fellowship has provide a platform to take my research ideas forward. In particular, this fellowship allows me to explore, develop and test a wide range of clay-nanoparticle based technologies through interaction with microfabrication engineers, polymer chemists, and other stem cell biologists and translational scientists.

Career benefits of a Fellowship

The fellowship buys you the essential time, space and personal to develop new research directions and position yourself as a research leader in these new areas of exploration.

Advice for future applicants

The key is the idea. If you can demonstrate effectively the novelty and potential fruitfulness of the idea and that you are well positioned in terms of track record, expertise, and collaborations to exploit the idea, then an EPSRC fellowship is an ideal launchpad for taking the idea forward.