The shape of our joints is critical to their function and control, but there are significant gaps in our understanding of how joint shapes develop and form. However, there is significant evidence from clinical conditions in babies that fetal movements are critical to normal morphogenesis of the joints. Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), where the hip joint is unstable or even dislocated, is more common when fetal movements are restricted or reduced. Arthrogryposis, where multiple joints are abnormally shaped and oriented, is a syndrome with abnormal fetal movements as the key feature. In this project, we are investigating how mechanical forces due to fetal movement mould synovial joints to gain a better understanding of musculoskeletal conditions affecting newborns and children.


Sotiriou V, Huang Y, Ahmed S, Isaksson H, Nowlan NC. Prenatal murine skeletogenesis partially recovers from absent skeletal muscle as development progresses. European Cells & Materials. 2022 Nov;44:115-132. DOI: 10.22203/ecm.v044a08. PMID: 36345651. Link: open access.

Godivier, J., Lawrence, E.A., Wang, M., Hammond, C.L. and Nowlan, N.C., 2022. Growth orientations, rather than heterogeneous growth rates, dominate jaw joint morphogenesis in the larval zebrafish. Journal of Anatomy, 241(2):358-371. Link: open access.

Bridglal, D., Boyle, C.J., Rolfe, R.A., Nowlan, N.C., 2021. Quantifying the tolerance of chick hip joint development to temporary paralysis and the potential for recovery. Developmental Dynamics 250 (3), pp. 450–464. Link: open access

Ahmed, S., and Nowlan N.C., 2020. Initiation and emerging complexity of the collagen network during prenatal skeletal development. European Cells and Materials 39, pp. 136-155. (link- open access)

Sotiriou, V., Rolfe R.A., Murphy, P. and Nowlan, N.C., 2019Effects of abnormal muscle forces on prenatal joint morphogenesis in miceJournal of Orthopaedic Research 37 (11), pp. 2287-2296. (JOR link) (BioRxiv link to original submission)

Ford CA, Nowlan NC, Thomopoulos S, Killian M. “Impaired muscular loading during post-natal growth leads to altered structure of the developing murine hip”, in press (Early View). Journal of Orthopaedic Research (link)

Chandaria VV, McGinty J, Nowlan NC, “Characterising the Effects of in Vitro Mechanical Stimulation on Morphogenesis of Developing Limb Explants”, 2016. Journal of Biomechanics 49 (15), pp. 3635–3642. (link) (pdf)

Giorgi M, Carriero A, Shefelbine SJ, Nowlan NC, “Effects of normal and abnormal loading conditions on morphogenesis of the prenatal hip joint: application to hip dysplasia”, 2015. Journal of Biomechanics 48 (12), pp. 3390–3397(link) (pdf)

Giorgi M, Carriero A, Shefelbine SJ, Nowlan NC, “Mechanobiological simulations of prenatal joint morphogenesis”, 2014. Journal of Biomechanics. 47 (5), pp. 989–995. (link) (pdf)