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Mathematical modelling of the human hair cycle

Department of Bioengineering

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Dr C Higgins No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The Higgins and Tanaka labs in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London invite applications for a PhD studentship on systems biology of hair follicle growth and cycling. The position is open to UK and EU students who fulfil the eligibility criteria, and is funded for 4 years through an EPSRC iCASE award with Procter and Gamble.

Hair follicles undergo periods of growth (anagen), regression (catagen) and rest (telogen) throughout an individual’s lifetime, with hair fibres being actively produced during anagen only. Interactions between the mesenchymal niche cells at the base of the follicle and the stem cells located in the follicle bulge enable transition between these follicular cycle stages. To date, little is known about the molecular regulators which enable these transitions in human follicles. In this PhD project, the successful applicant will use single cell RNA-seq to decipher the molecular signatures of niche and stem cells at all stages of the follicle cycle. They will then use a systems biology approach to establish a mathematical model of the hair cycle which can be perturbed to investigate the effect of specific genes on cyclic transitions.

The successful applicant will work in a supportive team, and have the opportunity to present their results at national and international conferences. In the Higgins group they will learn cell culture and molecular analysis, while in the Tanaka group they will learn mathematical modelling and model analysis.


For this position, we are seeking enthusiastic, kind, open, and curious candidates with a background in bioengineering, systems biology, mathematics, control engineering or biomedical sciences. We expect the successful applicant to have excellent interpersonal, written and oral communication skills and enthusiasm for exposure to a diverse, interdisciplinary scientific project such as the one described above. The ideal candidate should have an excellent academic track record and have obtained an undergraduate degree at 2:1 level or higher AND have a Master’s degree at Merit level by the start date of 1st October 2020 (or have equivalent research experience). MEng students obtaining their degrees in July 2020, or MSc students finishing in September 2020 are eligible to apply with their predicted grades.

Application Process

To apply, please send an up-to-date CV, cover letter, and details of 2 academic references to Dr Claire Higgins ([Email Address Removed]) Please note that this position may be filled before this date if there is a suitable applicant. The start date for this position is October 1st 2020.

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London will cover 4 years of tuition fees and provide a 4-year, tax-free stipend (home and EU candidates) at the standard Research Council rate.

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