Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Chondrocyte clock genes and osteoarthritis
Exercise and clocks in the musculoskeletal system (cartilage and intervertebral disc)
Clocks and skin ageing
Clocks and breast cancer

Personal profile


We study biological clocks in ageing and age-related diseases

We use transgenic animal models, clinical samples, circadian time series -omics, quantitative live imaging and machine learning algorithms to investigate the roles of circadian clocks in ageing and age-related diseases. Underpinning mechanisms identified will be targeted by pharmacological and other non-invasive approaches to slow down tissue degeneration and promote repair. We are also interested in a "circadian medicine" approach to tailor existing therapies according to the internal body clocks for better clinical outcomes.


Qing-Jun Meng is a Professor of Chronobiology and a Versus Arthritis Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, the University of Manchester. He is the Theme Leader of the Chrono-Matrix research theme within the Wellcome Centre for Cell-Matrix Research, the Co-director of the Wellcome Trust Immuno-Matrix in Complex Diseases PhD programme. He is also the Director of Internationalisation in the School of Biological Sciences, and the co-founder of the Biosciences International Summer School (BIO-SISS).  He is the Secretary of the British Society for Matrix Biology (BSMB), a Council Member of the International Society for Matrix Biology (ISMB), and the Chair of the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) Cartilage Biology and Pathology 2027 (Vice Chair 2025). 

In 2009, Qing-Jun (MD and PhD) was awarded a MRC Career Development Award Fellowship on clocks, ageing and age-related diseases. In 2015, he was awarded an ARUK (Versus Arthritis) Senior Research Fellowship to continue his work into the roles of circadian clocks in health and disease of the musculoskeletal system.  In 2017, he was promoted to a Professor of Chronobiology. 

Research interests

Circadian clocks, ageing and age-related diseases: molecular links and therapeutic intervention potentials

Age is the single biggest risk factor for a wide spectrum of diseases. The rapid population ageing calls for better understanding of the various biological processes underlying age-related pathologies. Among these are circadian rhythms, the endogenous 24 hour cycles governing nearly all aspects of our physiology and behaviour. In mammals (including humans), this rhythm is generated by the master clock (suprachiasmatic nucleus, SCN) in the brain, which entrains to the light/dark environment and co-ordinates the various peripheral clocks in most major body organs and cells. Circadian clocks are the internal timing mechanism that drives endogenous circadian (near 24 hour) rhythms in sleep/wake cycle, hormone release and behaviour. Circadian clocks control ~10% of our transcriptome in a tissue-specific manner.   During ageing, our body clocks gradually lose precision. Consequently, this loss of synchrony both with the 24 hour light/dark environment (external misalignment) and with the other organs (internal misalignment) imposes significant risks of developing human conditions and diseases, including skin ageing, musculoskeletal degeneration and cancer. Research in this laboratory aims to 1) Identify mechanisms underlying age-related changes in circadian rhythms in the brain and peripheral organs. 2) Establish functional significance of various tissue clocks in coordinating physiology to local demands. 3) Explore the hypothesis of utilizing body clock mechanisms in order to ameliorate disease progression and improve patient responses to therapies.

Previously, our research has contributed to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of circadian clock regulation (Neuron 2008; Curr Bio 2010; Nucleic Acids Res 2014; PLoS Genetics 2020; eLife 2022) as well as the pharmacological resetting potentials of clock-acting compounds (J Cell Sci 2008; J Pharmacol Exp Ther 2009; PNAS 2010). Our more recent interest is the interface between circadian biology and extracellular matrix homeostasis in the context of ageing and age-related disease, including osteoarthritis (Arthritis & Rheum 2013; Osteoarthritis & Cartilage 2015/2021/2023; J Clin Invest 2016; Nat Rev Rheum 2016; Sci Advances 2022; Nature Comms 2023; Nature 2023), intervertebral disc degeneration and back pain (Annals Rheum Dis 2017/2021; Matrix Biology 2023a), collagen secretion, fibrosis and tendinopathies (Sci Rep 2014; Genes & Dev 2014; Nature Cell Biology 2020; Matrix Biology 2023b) and breast cancer (Nature Comms 2017; J Cell Sci 2018, Breast Cancer Res 2018; J Cell Sci 2019; PNAS in press).

My group

Qing-Jun Meng

Professor of Chronobiology

Versus Arthritis Senior Research Fellow

+44 (0)161 306 8912
qing-jun.meng {at}

Michal Dudek

Post-doctoral Research Associate

Dharshika Pathiranage

Lab manager

Ruby Chrisp

Post-doctoral Research Associate

Shiyang Li

Post-doctoral Research Associate

Zeyad El-Houni

PhD student

Laura Campbell

Post-doctoral Research Associate

Rebecca Preston

Kidney Research UK Clinical PhD Studentship

Natalie Rogers

PhD student

Megan Lian

PhD student

Dingwei Wang

PhD student

Charles Gyasi

PhD student


Past lab members

Anna Paszekk - Post-doctoral Research Associate
Bethany Bridge - MSc Life Sciences

Markella Petropoulou - MSc Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

Cátia F. Gonçalves - PhD (Wellcome Trust Molecular and Cell Biology)

Honor Morris - PhD (MRC DTP studentship)

Hussain Jaffery - Post-doc Research Associate

Venkatesh Mallikarjun - Post-doc Research Associate

Nan Yang - Post-doc Research Associate

Mark Naven - PhD (EPSRC/MRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Regenerative Medicine)

Lauren O’Brien – MSc Life Sciences

Luke Macgregor -  MSc Precision Medicine

Jack Williams - PhD (BBSRC DTP Studentship)

Baoqiang Guo - Post-doc Research Associate

Pilar Vazquez - Post-doc Research Associate

Eleanor Broadberry - MRes student

Yifan Yu - MSc Neuroscience student

Rebecca Stanford - Nuffield Foundation student

Joseph Timothy - MRes student

Laura Whiteley - MSc student

Ding Jin - Research Technician

Nicole Gossan - PhD MRC Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience

Indrayani Ghangrekar - Research Assistant

Vanja Pekovic-Vaughan - Post-doc Research Associate




Biosciences International Summer School, BIO-SISS

Final Year Course: Clocks, Sleep and Rhythms of Life

Wellcome Trust Immuno-Matrix in Complex Disease (ICD) PhD course:  Introduction to the Extracellular Matrix

2nd Year Biomedical Science Tutorial

2nd Year Dissertation Students

Final Year Project Students

Placement Student

Erasmus Exchange Students

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Areas of expertise

  • QP Physiology
  • R Medicine (General)

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Regenerative Medicine Network


  • Circadian biology
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Back pain
  • Breast cancer
  • Skin ageing
  • Cell-matrix


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