Dr Jennifer Paxton

Senior Lecturer in Anatomy

Dr Jennifer Paxton

Senior Lecturer in Anatomy

  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Old Medical School
Teviot Place

Post Code

Other affiliations


Jennifer began her studies at the University of Glasgow with a BSc (Hons) in Anatomy, graduating in 2004. Following this, she undertook an MSc in Bioengineering at the University of Strathclyde where she combined her anatomical knowledge with engineering principles to understand the ways in which engineering science can be applied to advances in healthcare. Here, Jennifer was introduced to the field of Tissue Engineering and so on completion of her MSc, she moved to the University of Dundee where she completed her PhD in Tissue Engineering in 2009. Jennifer then undertook a period of postdoctoral research in the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham from 2009-2013.

Jennifer joined the University of Edinburgh in early 2014 as a Lecturer in Anatomy and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2020. She was elected as Fellow of The Anatomical Society in 2021 and was named as New Fellow of the Year (2021).

Jennifer has published in a range of leading Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials journals. She is also regularly asked to act as a reviewer for numerous journals in this field and as a reviewer for several funding bodies.

Jennifer is an active member of several societies such as the Tissue and Cell Engineering Society (TCES), The Anatomical Society, Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) and UK Society of Biomaterials (UKSB).

Teaching overview

Jennifer is the Programme Director for the Anatomical Sciences postgraduate programme, an online anatomy qualification launched in 2015. Here, she oversees the whole academic programme as well as being course organiser for three courses. Jennifer also contributes to a range of undergraduate and postgraduate teaching in on campus anatomy teaching at the University of Edinburgh. This includes topics from the MBChB (years 1-5), the MSc in Human Anatomy programme, and contributions to the Anatomy & Pathology 2, Anatomy & Development 3&4 and Medical Sciences core courses.

Research Overview

Anatomically relevant tissue engineering

The Paxton Lab research is focussed on the Tissue Engineering of musculoskeletal tissues and tissue interfaces. Tissue engineering seeks to manufacture replacement tissues in the laboratory using a combination of biological and engineering principles. We are specifically interested in the generation of ligaments and tendons in the laboratory and the recreating the complex interfaces that exist between these tissues and bone.

The Paxton Lab uses a range of techniques in their research such as 3D cell culture, imaging, bioreactor development and mechanical evaluation as part of a highly multidisciplinary research environment. The following projects are underway within the lab.

  1. Understanding the mechanisms of musculoskeletal tissue interface formation in vitro

Using 2D and 3D culture systems, we are investigating cellular co-cultures to examine their behaviour, organisation and interaction.

  1. The manufacture of complete multiphasic tissue structures for implantation

Using a combination of scaffolds and cell populations, we are investigating the manufacture of complete bone-to-bone ligaments, osteochondral plugs and bone-tendon replacements for implantation following injury.

  1. Developing anatomically-relevant 3-dimentional in vitro models for understanding musculoskeletal disease and repair. Our 3D culture systems can be a useful model for the study of musculoskeletal disease or for the investigation into repair options following injury.

Students interested in studying these research areas are encouraged to contact Dr Paxton via email.

Recent projects have included:

  • Investigating materials for bone tissue engineering
  • Engineering the enthesis in vitro
  • Investigating the effect of nanokicking on musculoskeletal cells

3D Scanning and 3D Printing in Anatomical Sciences

Jennifer has recently established the ATLAS (Anatomy Teaching Lab Additive Manufacturing and Scanning) project and facility in Anatomy@Edinburgh where she and colleagues have been investigating the use of 3D scanning and printing to develop bespoke interactive teaching tools in both digital and physical form. We are aiming to use these new tools to teach anatomy and related subjects to students online, on-campus and also as novel tools to increase our opportunities for public engagement.

Recent projects have included

  • Investigating 3D scanning to produce interactive digital models for anatomy education
  • Combining 3D scanning and printing to produce physical teaching models

Public Engagement

Jennifer is a keen science communicator and as a STEM ambassador, regularly engages with school children about following a career in science. She has taken part in several science communication projects including ‘I’m a scientist…get me out of here!’ where she was voted the winner of the Health Zone in 2013 and the enquiry zone in 2018. Jennifer was also awarded funding from The Royal Society in 2018 to run a collaborative Anatomy and Tissue Engineering programme in a local primary school entitled 'Building Body Parts'.

Most recently, Jennifer has authored a series of public interest anatomy book called Anatomicum. Anatomicum has been published by Big Picture Press and in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection. 



  • Paxton J.Z. (2019) Anatomicum published by Big Picture Press in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection– a popular science book describing the anatomy of the human body (age 9-upwards). Co-editions published in 14 languages worldwide
  • Paxton J.Z. (2020) Anatomicum Activity Book published by Big Picture Press.
  • Paxton J.Z. (2020) Anatomicum Junior Edition published by Big Picture Press in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection.

Book chapters

  • Paxton J.Z. and Murray L.M. (2017) Prenatal development of the musculoskeletal system in the human. Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Child Development. Edited by Hopkins, Geangu and Linkenauger. Cambridge University Press.


  • Loukopoulou C, Mortimer JW, Paxton JZ. Making connections: using anatomy to guide tissue engineering approaches at the enthesis. Eur Cell Mater. 2022 May 5;43:162-178. doi: 10.22203/eCM.v043a14. PMID: 35510558.
  • Mortimer JW, Alsaykhan H, Vadibeler S, Rust PA, Paxton JZ. Anatomy and histomorphology of the flexor digitorum profundus enthesis: functional implications for tissue engineering and surgery. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2021 Dec 10;22(1):1032. doi: 10.1186/s12891-021-04922-1. PMID: 34893040;
  • Liew, M. Y., Mortimer, J., Paxton, J. Z., Tham, S., & Rust, P. (2021) Histomorphology of the subregions of the scapholunate ligament and its enthesis Journal of Wrist Surgery DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1723792
  • Alsaykhan H. and Paxton J.Z. (2020) Investigating materials and orientation parameters for the creation of a 3-D musculoskeletal interface co-culture model. Regenerative Biomaterials 7(4) 413-425
  • Kelsey A., McCulloch V. Gillingwater TG., Findlater G., Paxton JZ (2019) Anatomical Sciences at Edinburgh: Initial experiences of teaching anatomy online. Translational Research in Anatomy 19, 100065.
  • Wang A., Williams R.L., Jumbu N., Paxton J.Z., Davis E.T., Snow M.A., Ritchie A.C., Johansson C.B., Sammons R.L. Grover L.M. (2016) Development of tissue engineered ligaments with titanium spring reinforcement. RSC Advances 100
  • Smith A.M., Paxton J.Z., Hung Y.P., Hadley M.J., Bowen J., Williams R.L., Grover L.M. (2015). Nanoscale crystallinity modulates cell proliferation on plasma sprayed surfaces. Materials Science & Engineering C. 48(5-10).
  • Wudebwe U.N.G., Bannerman A., Goldberg-Oppenheimer P., Paxton J.Z., Williams R.L., Grover L.M. (2015). Exploiting cell-mediated contraction and adhesion to structure tissues in vitro. Philosophical transactions B. 370(1661).
  • Lebled C., Grover L.M, Paxton J.Z. (2014) Combined decellularisation and dehydration improves the mechanical properties of tissue-engineered sinews. Journal of Tissue Engineering. 23;5.
  • Tan Y., Liu Y., Zhao Z., Paxton J.Z., Grover L.M (2014) Synthesis and in vitro degradation of a novel magnesium oxychloride cement. J Biomed Mater Res A. 103(1):194-202
  • Jordan R, Saithna A, Paxton JZ, Grover L, Krikler SJ, Thompson P. (2014) Early loosening of tantalum patellar augments in the post-patellectomy knee. Current Orthopaedic Practice.25(5) 472-477.
  • Koburger S.K., Bannerman A., Grover L.M., Mueller F., Bowen J., Paxton J.Z. (2014) A novel method for monitoring mineralisation in hydrogels at the engineered hard/soft tissue interface. Biomaterials Science. 2(1) 41-51. Selected for front cover.
  • Bannerman A., Paxton J.Z., Grover L.M. (2013) Imaging the hard/soft tissue interface. Biotechnology Letters. Epub. PMID:24129952.
  • Paxton J.Z., Baar K., Grover L.M. (2012) Current progress in enthesis repair: strategies for interfacial tissue engineering. Orthopaedic and Muscular system special issue. 2012 S1.
  • Paxton J.Z., Wudebwe U., Wang A., Woods D., Grover L.M. (2012) Monitoring sinew contraction during formation of tissue-engineered fibrin-based ligament constructs. Tissue Eng Part A 18(15-16):1596-607
  • Paxton J.Z., Hagerty P., Andrick J.J., Baar K. (2012) Optimizing an intermittent stretch paradigm using ERK1/2 phosphorylation results in increased collagen synthesis in engineered ligaments. Tissue Eng Part A 18(3-4) 277-84.
  • Mehrban N, Paxton J.Z., Bowen J., Bolarinwa A., Vorndran E., Gbureck U., Grover L.M. (2011) Comparing physicochemical properties of printed and hand cast biocements designed for ligament replacement Advances in Applied Ceramics 110  3 162-167.  
  • Jahromi S.H., Grover L.M., Paxton J.Z., Smith A.M. (2011) Degradation of polysaccharide hydrogels seeded with bone marrow stromal cells. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 4(7):1157-66. 
  • Paxton J.Z., Grover L.M. and Baar K.(2010) Engineering an in vitro model of a functional ligament from bone to bone. Tissue Eng Part A 16(11):3515-25
  • Paxton J.Z., Donnelly K, Keatch RP, Baar K, Grover LM. (2010)  Factors affecting the longevity and strength in an in vitro model of the bone-ligament interface. Ann Biomed Eng. 38(6):2155-66.
  • Maher P.S., Keatch R.P., Donnelly K., Mackay R. Paxton J.Z.  (2009) Construction of 3D Biological Matrices using Rapid Prototyping Technology. Rapid Prototyping Journal. 15(3) 204-210.
  • Paxton J.Z., Donnelly K., Keatch R.P., Baar K. (2009) Engineering the bone-ligament Interface using Polyethyene glycol diacrylate incorporated with hydroxyapatite. Tissue Eng Part A.15(6):1201-9.
  • Khodabukas A.K., Paxton J.Z., Donnelly K., Baar K. (2007) Engineered muscle: a tool for studying muscle physiology and function. Exerc. Sport Sci.Rev. 35(4):186-91.
  • Paxton J.Z. and Baar K. (2007) Tendon Mechanics: the argument heats up. J. Appl. Physiol.103(2) 423-4 .