PhD Studentship: Mechanisms of Stem Cell Adhesion and Fate Decision to Nanostructured Biomaterials

Queen Mary University of London - School of Engineering and Materials Science

A PhD studentship in the understanding of mechanisms enabling stem cell adhesion and regulating fate decision in response to adhesion to nanostructured biomaterials is available in the group of Dr J. Gautrot. The project will focus on the study of the mechanisms via which integrin-mediated adhesions sense nanoscale mechanical and topographical properties of biomaterials and, in turn, the processes regulating stem cell phenotype.

Biomaterials design plays an essential role in the development of novel platforms and strategies supporting regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Importantly, stem cells used in such technologies not only respond to the biochemical properties of biomaterials but also their physical properties (e.g. mechanics, topography, geometry). We recently reported that the nanoscale physical properties of biomaterials and the extra-cellular environment may dominate over bulk properties. The proposed project will develop a deeper understanding of mechanisms regulating cell adhesion to nanomaterials and the sensing of their nanoscale physical properties. In particular the role of differential integrin expression and associated changes in the dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton will be studied.

The successful candidates will develop multidisciplinary skills in stem cell biology and associated characterisation techniques (confocal microscopy, FRAP, live imaging, protein expression analysis, qPCR) and will be trained in biomaterials self-assembly and characterisation (electron microscopy). This project will be integrated with other projects in our group focusing on the development of novel smart biomaterials and biointerfaces (, fields in which our research group has a strong track-record (see Biomaterials 2010, 2012, Nature Materials 2012, Nature Cell Biology 2010 and Integrative Biology 2013, Nano Letters 2014, Chem. Rev. 2014). Applicants must have (or be about to obtain) a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) in Bioengineering, Biomedical Sciences or similar related degrees.

QMUL Research Studentship Details
Available to Home/EU & International Applicants
Full Time programme only
Applicant required to start in Sept 2018
The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to four 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 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking)

International applicants should refer to the following website at

Supervisor Contact Details
Dr Julien Gautrot,

Application Method
To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the Medical Engineering programme please follow the link to the following webpage:

Further Guidance available via

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

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