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Nanotechnology approaches for the investigation of cardiac mechanosensing

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 03, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Applications are invited for a full-time PhD studentship in the Iskratsch (, first supervisor) and Palma labs (http://research.sbcs., second supervisor) at Queen Mary University of London to investigate mechanical sensing in cardiomyocytes.
The composition and the stiffness of the cardiac extracellular matrix change during development or in heart disease. Cardiomyocytes and their progenitors sense these changes, which decide over the cell fate and behaviour. Using nanopillar arrays, we recently discovered a cardiomyocyte specific rigidity sensing mechanism (Pandey et al, Dev Cell 2018). Importantly however, not only the stiffness but also the molecular composition of the adhesion changes in pathological conditions. Especially the different integrin isoform expression is expected to have a major impact on the regulation of mechanical sensing - owing to the differences in their bond strength, clustering behaviour or intracellular binding partners (Ward et al, BBAMCR, 2019).
To study integrin clustering and mechanosensing in detail, we recently developed a bio-nanoarray using DNA origami with conjugated receptor ligands (mono- or multivalent) that are placed onto nanopatterns fabricated with focused ion beam or electron beam lithography (Huang et al. ACS Nano 2019). The initial data using this platform indeed confirmed major differences between the clustering behaviour of different cardiomyocyte integrins (Hawkes et al, Faraday Discuss, manuscript in press). Here we want to follow up on these results and study in detail the dependency of cardiomyocyte mechanosensing and signalling on integrin nanoscale organisation via the use of DNA nanotechnology and nanopillars.

QMUL Research Studentship Details
• Available to Home/EU Applicants only.
• Full Time programme only.
• Applicant required to start in 2019.
• The studentship arrangement will cover tuition fees and provide an annual stipend for up to three years (set as £17,009 in 2019/20).
• The minimum requirement for this studentship opportunity is a good Honours degree (minimum 2(i) honours or equivalent) or
MSc/MRes in a relevant discipline.
• If English is not your first language then you will require a valid English certificate equivalent to IELTS 6.5+ overall with a minimum
score of 6 in Writing and 5.5 in all sections (Reading, Listening, Speaking).
• Please note that this studentship is only available to Home/EU Applicants. (See: for

Supervisor Contact Details:
For informal enquiries about this position, please contact Dr Thomas Iskratsch
Tel: 020 7882 3674
E-mail: or
Application Method:
To apply for this studentship and for entry on to the PhD Medical Engineering programme (Full Time) please follow the instructions detailed on the following webpage:

Research degrees in Engineering:

Further Guidance:

Please be sure to include a reference to ‘2019 SEMS QMRS TI’ to associate your application with this studentship opportunity.

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