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Building organs under pressure – tissue-dependent mechanisms of mechanotransduction in embryonic morphogenesis.

Department of Biomedical Science

About the Project

"During development, cells and tissues experience different forces in their biological setting and must be able to both maintain and remodel cell contacts under their native force environment to undergo morphogenesis. This suggests that tissues must have mechanisms in place for withstanding and integrating differing levels of force during development.
Cadherins are major components of cell-cell contacts, and in addition to mediating cell-cell adhesion they also act as mechanosensors, relaying force across the cell-cell junction to the actin cytoskeleton via the mechanotransducer Vinculin. There are many different cadherin family members with tissue-specific expression, suggesting they may represent a good candidate for tissue-specific force mediation.
This project seeks to understand how tissue-specific cadherin expression influences force sensing and integration to support the development of tissues in high-force environments. The experimental approach will combine state-of-the-art genetic models, in vivo force measurements, high resolution imaging and computational image analysis. Furthermore, it will integrate comparative analyses in both Drosophila and zebrafish, to address whether tissue context-specific mechanotransduction mechanisms are an evolutionarily conserved phenomenon. The successful candidate will therefore receive training in genetic, imaging and computational techniques across a variety of model organisms."

Science Graduate School
As a PhD student in one of the science departments at the University of Sheffield, you’ll be part of the Science Graduate School. You’ll get access to training opportunities designed to support your career development by helping you gain professional skills that are essential in all areas of science. You’ll be able to learn how to recognise good research and research behaviour, improve your communication abilities and experience the breadth of technologies that are used in academia, industry and many related careers. Visit to learn more.

Funding Notes

Entry Requirements
First class or upper second 2(i) in a relevant subject. To formally apply for a PhD, you must complete the University’s application form using the following link:
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*All applicants should ensure that both references are uploaded onto their application as a decision will be unable to be made without this information.*


Bulgakova lab:
Noël lab:

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