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Creating 3D models of ARVC disease with light-induced tuneable severity in stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes

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Project Description

Applications are invited for a 3 year Non-Clinical BHF PhD studentship to work on the above project in Keele University, in the group of Dr. Vinoj George.

ARVC (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy) is a cardiac muscle disorder, caused mostly by an inherited genetic mutation that affects the structural integrity of heart muscle cells, leading to arrhythmia and in some cases, sudden cardiac death (SCD). The reason why some patients have a more severe manifestation of the disease, especially in early adulthood, is unknown. This project proposes a 3D model of ARVC disease progression in a dish by reproducing the ‘diseased’ cellular behaviour in genetically modified human iPSC stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes that is mutated for a desmosome protein. This utilizes advances in light-responsive CRISPR-based genetics (optogenetics) and biomaterials to create a range of response in ARVC-mutated cardiomyocytes, allowing identification of genetic triggers that make the disease more severe, as if they were in the heart. The project will be multidisciplinary and will complement research skills through training in hiPSC stem cell culture, cardiomyocyte differentiation, molecular and cell biology assays, genetics, basic electrophysiology, tissue engineering and advanced cellular imaging. This will be an exciting opportunity for the student to combine genetic engineering with tissue engineering to control cell fate and to produce innovative models of cardiovascular disease for translational applications.

Please quote PHaB2020_01 when applying online.

Funding Notes

The funding for this studentship will cover fees at the current UK/EU rate and a stipend at current BHF rates (starting from £19,919 pa in first year). Please note the difference for International tuition fees will not be covered. A travel fund of £1000 is also available for the Student, to present at or attend scientific meetings relevant to the grant.

UK/EU fees for three years.

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