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Dynamical modelling of pattern formation in synthetic biofilms

  • Full or part time

    Dr R Endres
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, May 01, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

We are looking for a candidate to take up an EPSRC-funded DTP PhD Studentship co-supervised by Prof. Mark Isalan ( and Dr. Robert Endres ( The project will develop computational approaches to guide engineering of synthetic biology gene circuits for spatial pattering.

Project details

The self-organisation of spatial patterns and structures in developmental biology is a fundamental problem that promises to underpin our future efforts in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Computational Systems Biologists and Synthetic Biologists can together provide a bridge from theory towards practical applications, by building working prototype systems. In our groups, we have already built simple synthetic patterns using cells, and are working towards our dream of engineering self-organising tissues and organs at will. Although several patterning mechanisms have been proposed in classical developmental biology, the Turing pattern mechanism is unique in terms of self-correction, and economy of design, and regular patterns have never been constructed ab initio using defined biological components. It is therefore a tantalising engineering and modelling target, and we have chosen to engineer these systems in bacterial 'lawns' or biofilms. In this theory project in the Endres group, we will implement a biophysical reaction-advection diffusion model for such a growing biofilm, considering gene expression, as well as fluid- and cell-mechanical aspects. Theoretical predictions will be tested in the nearby Isalan lab.

How to apply

Please email Mark Isalan () and Robert Endres () and include in your application:
• A cover letter
• Your CV
• Your transcript
• Three references sent directly from the referees

Qualifications/ Eligibility

Candidates must have (or expected to have by October 2019) at least a 2.1 BSc, or equivalent qualifications.

All students will participate in the MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology (at Imperial College London), starting 1 October 2019. The PhD position is funded at the UK level, providing fees and stipend for a period of three years starting on 1 October 2020.

The studentship is fully-funded, therefore, only UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements as governed by the Education (Fees and Awards) Regulations 2007 ( are eligible to apply.

As such, international students are not eligible to apply.

For detailed information on residential eligibility guidelines, please visit the RCUK Training Grant Guide, Annex 1 ( Please note that if you are not a UK or EU student with an established residency in the UK, your application will not be reviewed. The residence eligibility criteria are satisfied in full if all three of the following conditions are met:
1. (a) the candidate is settled in the UK i.e. is ordinarily resident in the UK without being subject under the immigration laws to any restriction on the period for which they may stay in the UK;
2. (b) the candidate has been ordinarily resident in the UK and Islands for three years immediately prior to the date of start of their course;
3. (c) not been residing in the UK wholly or mainly for the purpose of full-time education, which does not apply to UK or EU nation

Enquiries by email, please. Closing deadline 1st May 2019.

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