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Dopamine-regulated mechanotransduction pathways in eye growth and myopia

   Institute of Ophthalmology

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  Prof M Bailly  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

London United Kingdom Cell Biology Microbiology Molecular Biology

About the Project

Institute of Ophthalmology PhD Studentship

UCL Department / Division: UCL Institute of Ophthalmology

Duration of Studentship: 3.5 years, available to start December 2021/January 2022

PhD Title: Dopamine-regulated mechanotransduction pathways in eye growth and myopia

Primary supervisor: Prof Maryse Bailly

Secondary supervisor: Dr Annegret Dahlmann-Noor

We are offering a fulltime, fully funded 3.5 year PhD studentship to investigate the molecular mechanisms regulating eye growth.

The Bailly lab studies the role of fibroblasts in tissue homeostasis and disease, with a specific focus on ocular diseases and fibrosis. We have recently begun investigating how fibroblasts from the sclera, the stiff white outer coat of the eye, regulate eye growth, and how their behaviour may be altered in myopia. Post natal eye growth and myopia progression are thought to be modulated by light-mediated dopamine release, but the molecular mechanisms involved are unknown. Using donor cells and 3D culture models, we found that fibroblasts from pediatric/adolescent donor sclera are sensitive to dopamine and display different mechanical properties compared to adult ones, suggesting that the young sclera might be a critical dopamine target for post-natal eye growth and myopia development, through the modulation of scleral fibroblast biomechanics. The successful candidate will use a broad range of cell and molecular biology techniques to further explore the pathways involved, integrating a dynamic team working on different aspects of the regulation of fibroblasts biomechanics and scleral growth.

Applicants should hold, or expect to receive, a minimum upper-second degree or equivalent in an associated subject such as cell and molecular biology, biomedical engineering, neuroscience or life science with a strong cell biology background. A Master’s degree and/or previous lab-based research experience is desirable.

Duties and Responsibilities

The successful candidate is expected to:

• Proactively learn all manners of techniques necessary to the successful completion of the PhD.

• Acquire a deep background knowledge of the project field and maintain up to date literature search and knowledge

• Design and perform experiments to publication standards, under the guidance of the supervisors initially, developing independent skills and thinking during the course of the PhD

• Work in collaboration with other researchers

• Prepare regular progress reports and presentations as requested and complete research log and training as required per UCL and supervisors as part of the UCL graduate training and/or necessary to project progress

• Attend relevant meetings, conferences and collaborative meetings

• Prepare manuscripts for submission to international peer-reviewed journals

• Contribute to the overall activities of the research team, department and be aware of UCL policies

Person Specification

• A good degree (2.1 or above; or equivalent EU/overseas degree) and/or relevant MSc (Molecular cell biology and signalling, Mechanobiology, Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering or Physiology)

• Lab experience, particularly in molecular cell biology and microscopy techniques

• Experience with statistical methods and software packages

• Knowledge of mechanoregulation pathways, cytoskeleton, signalling and/or dopamine pathways desirable

• Excellent methodological skills

• High proficiency in written and spoken English is required

• Very strong work ethic, with the ability to think creatively and work both individually and within a team

Informal enquiries should be made to Prof Maryse Bailly ([Email Address Removed]).

How to apply

Applicants should submit an application via [Email Address Removed] by Sunday 10th or 17th October 2021. You will be required to submit a CV, a covering letter outlining motivation, interest, and suitability for this project, and contact details for two academic referees.

Enquiries relating to the application process should be sent to Kristina Labanauskaite, Research Degrees Administrator ([Email Address Removed]).

Shortlisted candidates will be contacted directly for interview.

The successful candidate is expected to start in December 2021/January 2022.


The full studentship (tuition fees and salary stipend) is eligible to all UK nationals, EU nationals and international candidates.

Application deadline: Sunday 10th October 2021

Proposed interview date: Week of the 25th October 2021

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded for 3.5 years by UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and includes UK/EU/International UCL PhD tuition fees, laboratory costs and an annual salary stipend of year 1 - 24,093.00, year 2 - 26,057.00, year 3 - 26,839.00, year 3.5 13,419.50
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