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Professor Stefan Przyborski

Dean of Infrastructure

Dean of Infrastructure in the Faculty of Science
Professor in the Department of Biosciences+44 (0) 191 33 43988


Advanced Tissue Technologies

I am Professor of Cell Technology and have been a principle investigator at Durham University since 2000. My training and background is in animal cell biology with specific interests in anatomy, tissue biology, cell differentiation and stem cells. My research is both basic and applied, and has generated significant impact.

Engineering human tissues in the laboratory creates multiple opportunities to advance basic research and discovery, develop new platforms for testing drugs and the safety assessment of chemicals, and importantly replacing the use of animals in research and development. My research group researches and develops innovative new strategies that enable the construction of human tissues in vitro. We specialise in enabling technologies that have multiple applications in academic and industrial research. We have created novel models of human skin, intestine, embryonic development, brain and liver. Much of our research is underpinned by basic principles in anatomy and physiology. Understanding how the micro-environment in which cells are cultured influences their structure and function is critical to generating models of human tissues that can be used as tools to improve our understanding of health and disease and enhance the predictive accuracy of drugs and use of cosmetics.

There are different strategies by which tissues by be constructed in vitro, many of which rely on three-dimensional (3D) cell culture technologies. In my group, we have pioneered the development of a novel membrane technology that can be used in multiple ways, including construction of layered structures that simulate the anatomy of tissues in the body, for example, skin, intestine, etc. This novel 3D technology has been fully commercialised via the Durham University spinout company, Reinnervate Ltd, and our product is known as Alvetex Scaffold. Alvetex is available to the academic and industrial community, it has become the market-leading scaffold technology for 3D cell culture, and has been used in a wide variety of applications. Reinnervate was acquired by Reprocell in 2014 who continue to promote Alvetex products and offer clients Alvetex-based in vitro assays for contract research. For further details concerning Alvetex technology and our commercial research visit  

To develop such technology, we research how cells are influenced by their surroundings and how we can control such factors in vitro to produce models of human tissue that mimic as close as possible their native counterparts. We examine carefully how the physical micro-environment influences cell shape and form through changes in its cytoskeleton reacting changes in the physical topography of their external surroundings. We study the effect of oxygen in vitro on cell and tissue growth, the impact of perfusion culture on generating 3D models. We develop and apply technology to control such factors, resulting in novel methods to generate tissue constructs as valuable research tools for the scientific community. Human stem cells play an important role in our work as a renewal source of material that can be used as the starting point to generate tissue models. Understanding their behaviour during differentiation and the application of the technologies we develop leads to enhanced in vitro systems to advance research and discovery.

As a consequence of our research at Durham University, our work has significant impact and application in the academic and industrial sectors and has been widely adopted. We work at the interface between the disciplines of bioscience, chemistry, and engineering and collaborate extensively with other researchers in academia, industry and the government sectors. We are funded by the research councils, industry, and learned societies, developing new research tools that are used to understand the structure and function of human cells and tissues. We publish our work in peer-reviewed scientific journals and have recently published a new text on enabling platform technologies to build 3D human tissue models.

Research interests

  • Advanced cell technologies
  • Tissue engineering
  • Stem cell biology
  • Cell and tissue differentiation

Esteem Indicators

  • 2017: Esteem Indicators: Recent Panel Membership:

    NC3Rs: Chair, Grant Panel Committee (2017-2019)

    BBSRC: Chair, Response Mode Grant Panel Committee C (2015-2018)

    HEFC: Research Excellence Framework (REF2014), member Sub-panel 5 (2012-14)

    BBSRC: Chair, Industrial CASE Studentship Assessment panel (2013, 2014)


    Holding Office for a Learned Society:

    President (2016-9) Anatomical Society (Est. 1887)

    Member of Council (2008-19) Anatomical Society

    Vice President (2006-7) Anatomical Society

    Treasurer (2005-9) British Neuroscience Association, Executive member



    Board of Directors National Centre for Reduction of Animals (NC3Rs) (2014-2018)

    Director (2014-). ReproCELL Europe (Registered SC231284)

    Director (2002-14). Reinnervate Limited (Registered 04468747)

    Director (2007-). Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland (Registered 01848115)



    Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC, 2012)

    Fellow of the Anatomical Society (FAS, 2012)

    Fellowship of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB, 2011)

    Royal Society of Edinburgh / BBSRC Enterprise Fellowship (2011)

    Numerous personal Postdoctoral Fellowships (MRC, Wellcome Trust, JG Graves)


Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Supervision students