PhD Studentship: Does Blood Vessel Stiffness Influence Smooth Muscle Cell Migrational Capacity during Vascular Disease and Ageing? (WARREND_U18SCI)

University of East Anglia - Pharmacy

Start Date: October 2018

Supervisor: Dr Derek Warren

Project description:

Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) are the most abundant cell type in the blood vessel wall and normally exist in a differentiated, contractile phenotype, to maintain vascular tone and assist blood flow. However, during vascular injury, VSMCs dedifferentiate and revert to a migratory phenotype to enable blood vessel repair.

Enhanced VSMC migration is observed during ageing and vascular disease, including atherosclerosis, aneurysm, and hypertension. Blood vessel stiffness also increases during vascular ageing and disease. Although much research has focussed on how soluble factors influence VSMC migration, our understanding of the impact of vessel stiffness remains limited. Therefore studying how changes in blood vessel stiffness influence VSMC migration will increase our understanding of vascular disease progression and potentially yield new therapeutic targets to manipulate VSMC migration.

During the PhD, it will be investigated how matrix stiffness influences VSMC migration. The successful candidate will gain extensive experience in a wide range of state-of-the-art biophysical, cell biological, and imaging techniques including video time-lapse microscopy, fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP), fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), and traction force microscopy (TFM). In addition, you will gain hands on experience in fabricating hydrogels of defined stiffness and atomic force microscopy.

Interviews will be held w/c 22 January 2018.

Person specification:

Acceptable first degree: Biological/Medical Sciences

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding notes:

This PhD project is in a Faculty of Science competition for funded studentships. These studentships are funded for 3 years and comprise home/EU fees, an annual stipend of £14,553, and £1,000 per annum to support research training. Overseas applicants may apply but they are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (in 2017/18 the difference is £13,805 for the Schools of CHE, PHA, & MTH (Engineering) and £10,605 for CMP & MTH, but fees are subject to an annual increase).

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