UCL School of Pharmacy

Dr James Phillips

Dr James Phillips

Reader in Regenerative Medicine


UCL School of Pharmacy

Joined UCL
1st Sep 2011

Research summary

Nervous system tissue engineering

The Phillips lab uses tissue engineering principles to model and to repair the nervous system.

The group specialises in building artificial neural tissues by growing nervous system cells in a 3-dimensional environment. These engineered neural tissues can be adapted using specific cells, extracellular matrix, chemical signals and biomechanical cues in order to provide laboratory models for neuroscience research, or implantable grafts for use in regenerative medicine.

1. Nervous system models

A range of models have been developed and can be tailored to mimic specific aspects of the central and peripheral nervous systems. The culture models tend to be made using 3D hydrogels, providing a more realistic spatial environment for neurons and glial cells than traditional 2D culture systems. They allow continuous observation and controlled manipulation, thereby facilitating analysis of cellular interactions. They complement in vivo models which generally allow only snapshot views and offer limited scope for controlling complex variables.

2. Nervous system repair

Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering provide opportunities to repair the damaged nervous system. This can involve the use of cell, drug and gene therapies and the construction of living artificial nervous system tissue to encourage growth of host neurons through an area of damage. The potential Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs) developed by the lab often include aligned materials and glial cells in order to guide and support regenerating neurons. They need to be made from materials and cells suitable for safe therapeutic use, and as well as promoting neuronal growth they must restore the biomechanical functionality of the tissue.

For more information please take a look at our publications or visit www.jamesphillips.org

Teaching summary

Contribution to the following UCL modules through lectures, assessment or supervision of research students:

Applied Tissue Engineering (SURGGN06)

Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering (MECHGB04)

Musculoskeletal Biology (ORTHG012)

Skeletal Tissue Biology, ORTH3003


MClinDent Orthodontics

Aspects of Bioengineering (MPHYGB21/MPHY3B21/MPHYMB21)

Cell Therapy Biology, Bioprocessing and Clinical Translation

Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine (CELL3001)

MBBS Student Selective Component (SSC) in Nanotechnology & Regenerative Medicine

MSci Neuroscience (NEURM901)

MSc Clinical Neurosciences

Other teaching activities have included contributions to Open University modules in Health Sciences, external examination of PhD and MPhil candidates in various UK universities, and Visiting Lecturer roles at the University of Bedfordshire and the UCL Department of Surgery.   



Dr James Phillips was appointed to the post of Senior Lecturer in Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering at UCL in November 2013, then became Reader in Regenerative Medicine in December 2017. Before that he was a Lecturer in Health Sciences at the Open University in Milton Keynes (2004-2013), leading a research group and taking part in a range of teaching and public engagement activities. His first degree was in Biochemistry at Imperial College London (awarded 1996), followed by a PhD in Pharmacology at the School of Pharmacy, University of London (awarded 2000). He was then a postdoctoral researcher on an EU project in the Tissue Repair and Engineering Centre at UCL, then worked as a Research Fellow in the Surgery Department at UCL.

James is currently involved in a range of research projects including collaborations with scientists, clinicians and engineers working in academia and industry. He is a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Biomaterials Applications, part of the Executive Committee of the Tissue and Cell Engineering Society and a Board Member for the European Society for the Study of Peripheral Nerve Repair and Regeneration