Elastin is a key extracellular matrix (ECM) protein in the lung and is expressed by numerous cell types including airway and vascular smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells, and fibroblasts. Elastin fibres govern elastic recoil and are therefore essential for the changes in lung size and shape the occur during normal ventilation. The elasticity of an organ depends not just on the amount of elastin, but also on the spatial arrangement and type of elastin network. Damage to or aberrations within elastin fibres is detrimental to lung mechanics and function, and contributes to pathogenesis within the lung.
Adult chronic lung diseases such as emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis are characterised by increased elastin breakdown, and elastin loses its functionality due to fragmentation/ thinning of elastin networks with age. A combination of the long half-life of elastin and the fact that it is barely produced in the adult tissues mean that conditions that alter elastin or cause increased degradation can have greatly detrimental effects on the lung. How processes that contribute to elastin breakdown contribute to chronic lung diseases are unclear and is the focus of this research.
This project aims to investigate the underlying mechanisms that contribute to aberrant elastin structures in chronic lung diseases that affect both babies and older aged adults. Primarily this project will study how cyclical mechanical stretch of lung tissue drives elastin production and assembly, and how altered mechanical signals, such as during mechanical ventilation, affect elastin degradation to drive lung disease. The successful student will use state of the art molecular and imaging techniques together with a novel method of modelling breathing in precision cut lung slices to address the project aims.
The project will be hosted in the £23.3m Nottingham NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, with the student working within the University of Nottingham’s flagship £100m research facility, the Biodiscovery Institute, home to almost 1000 leading researchers from medicine, pharmacy, tissue engineering and chemistry.
The three year studentship covers tuition fees, a tax-free stipend and a generous research budget.
1st October 2023
How to apply
Please email a CV including details of two referees together with a covering letter stating why you are interested in the project to [Email Address Removed]. Informal inquiries can also be made here.
31st July 2023