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High-throughput mechanobiology

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Cancer research has traditionally focused upon extra- or intra-cellular biochemical signals, and their relation to cancer development and metastasis. Recently it has become clearer that mechanic forces are key regulators of cellular behaviour. Mechanobiology exists at the interface between biology and engineering and aims to address this question. The diverse field has focused on understanding how physical forces modulate protein, cell and tissue dynamics and organization through mechanotransduction. For example, the tumour stroma is a mechanically stiff environment which specifically perturbs mechanically sensitive proteins. Single molecule force measurements, such as magnetic tweezers have been advancing rapidly over the past two decades. These approaches have revealed, in explicit detail, how force is used in biological systems, and are beginning to address how mechanical stimuli are converted into biochemical signals. However, these experiments are challenging due to the specialised equipment and novel technical aspects, and as such, access to these techniques is limited. Overall it is currently not possible to carry out biochemical and cellular screening assays in the presence of mechanical force. Therefore, the design and screening of mechanically sensitive targets is limited.
To this end, we have developed a novel tool, which can apply force to samples through the use of magnets attached on to a microplate lid. This tool provides a unique opportunity to merge high-throughput screening with mechanics. Forces have large impact upon the activity of many proteins therefore it may be possible to specifically “drug” a protein only when it is mechanically activated. This project is focused upon optimising and applying this tool to mechanically sensitive cellular proteins.

Funding Notes

Entry Requirements:
Candidates must have a first or upper second-class honors degree or equivalent overseas qualification in a relevant subject.

Enquiries:
Interested candidates should in the first instance contact Dr Chris Toseland

How to apply:
Please complete a University Postgraduate Research Application form available here: View Website

Please clearly state the prospective main supervisor in the respective box and select ‘Department of Oncology and Metabolism’ as the department.

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