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DNA-nanotechnology tools for synthetic cell mimics (UK/EU students only)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Bottom-up synthetic biology aims at constructing artificial cells, micron-scale entities that replicate typical functionalities of biological cells, such as regulated metabolism, communication and adaptation to their environment. Artificial cells offer vast applicability as biosensing systems and nanomedical devices, while helping researchers to unravel the molecular mechanisms underlying biological complexity in a simplified setting. These microreactors are often constructed from a semi-permeable compartment playing the role of the cell membrane, supporting or encapsulating various active elements that enable sensing, communication and information processing.

DNA nanotechnology enables exquisite control over the structure and dynamic response of nanoscale objects constructed from synthetic DNA molecules, making it ideal for the production of nanomachines and structural elements that mimic biological ones, and can thus be applied in the context of artificial-cell research.

This PhD project aims a developing new DNA-nanotech tools that can enhance the capabilities of artificial cells. These include synthetic membrane receptors for sensing environmental cues, signalling and communication protocols to implement collective behaviours in artificial-cell consortia, and responsive structural elements that mimic the cytoskeleton and can alter the morphological and structural features of the artificial cells.

The student will design responsive DNA nanosystems (aided by computer tools), assemble and characterise them in the lab, and finally integrate them with synthetic cellular mimics. Depending on the student’s interests and skillset, experiments may be complemented by theoretical analysis and coarse-grained computer simulations.

To apply please email a CV and two references to Dr Di Michele - .

Funding Notes

Funding is available for 3.5 years, starting from 1 October 2019 for UK/EU students only.

The candidate should hold a master’s degree in physics, chemistry, materials or a closely related discipline, preferably with interest or experience on soft nanomaterials. Experience with computer programming would be highly beneficial. Most important, the candidate should share our curiosity and enthusiasm for research!

Note that Lorenzo’s group, currently based at the University of Cambridge, will move to Imperial College, Department of Chemistry in August 2019.

Related Subjects

How good is research at Imperial College London in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 54.90

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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