PhD Studentship: Investigation of Cardiomyocyte Rigidity Sensing with Engineered 2D and 3D Environments

Queen Mary University of London

Project Details:

The composition and the stiffness of the cardiac ECM are subject to change during development or in heart disease. Cardiomyocytes (CMs) can sense these changes, which influences CM differentiation, maintenance or de-differentiation. Previously we identified a novel rigidity sensing mechanism in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes, but molecular details are still lacking. Also differences in the regulation between developing, mature or diseased cardiomyocytes are still elusive. Based on our published and unpublished preliminary data, we hypothesize that forces and composition of the force-sensing structures (focal adhesions and costameres) are matched in healthy developing and adult cardiomyocytes, but mismatched in remodelling or diseased cardiomyocytes. This results in the activation of different signalling cascades and affects the cell phenotype.

This PhD project will investigate these crucial differences using techniques to measure forces (PDMS nanopillars), as well as micropatterning to analyze signalling pathways in a bottom up approach. Additionally, we will investigate force generation and sensing of differentiating (induced pluripotent stem cell cardiomyocytes) and adult cardiomyocytes in engineered 3D environments in order to gain novel insights into the regulation of cardiomyocyte mechanosensing. Exact knowledge about the regulation will lead to novel drug targets to improve cardiac function after infarction, or biomaterials with improved properties to enhance engraftment and differentiation of stem cells.

For more information, including recent publications, please visit our website www.iskratschlab.com

QMUL Research Studentship Details

  • Available to Home/EU Applicants only.
  • Full Time programme only
  • Applicant required to start in January 2018
  • The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (Currently set as £16,553 in 2017/18).
  • The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
  • If English is not your first language then you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum score of 6 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
  • Please note that this studentship is only available to Home/EU Applicants. (See: http://www.welfare.qmul.ac.uk/money/feestatus/ for details) 

Supervisor Contact Details:

For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr Thomas Iskratsch, E-mail: t.iskratsch@qmul.ac.uk

Application Method: 

To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Medical Engineering programme (Full Time, Semester 1 start) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/postgraduate/research/subjects/engineering.html

Further Guidance available via: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/postgraduate/applyresearchdegrees/index.html

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2017 SEMS TI’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity. 

Deadline for applications: 15th December 2017

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London