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Optimizing drug schedules using control theory

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Seeking a Ph.D. candidate with background engineering to work on control of a cellular process known as autophagy


The effects of molecularly targeted drug perturbations on cellular activities and fates are difficult to predict using intuition alone because of the complex behaviors of cellular regulatory networks. An approach to overcoming this problem is to develop mathematical models for predicting drug effects. Such an approach beckons for co-development of computational methods for extracting insights useful for guiding therapy selection and optimizing drug scheduling. Here, we present and evaluate a generalizable strategy for identifying drug dosing schedules that minimize the amount of drug needed to achieve sustained suppression or elevation of an important cellular activity/process, the recycling of cytoplasmic contents through (macro)autophagy. Therapeutic targeting of autophagy is currently being evaluated in diverse clinical trials but without the benefit of a control engineering perspective.

The ideal candidate has a strong theoretical background in the fields of control systems and optimal control and an interest in working in an interdisciplinary team including mechanical engineers, chemical-biological engineers. Preferred qualifications are a master degree in either engineering or mathematics or physics, familiarity with computer programming (C, MATLAB, Python) and previous work in the area of control systems, either theoretical or experimental.

The funding for this position comes from an NIH grant of which I am the PI for the duration of 3 years and the monthly salary is 1500 US$ per month. Tuition is also covered by the grant. Albuquerque is a relatively inexpensive American city (eg it is possible to rent around the University for about 500 US$ per month.)

The University of New Mexico will provide assistance to obtain a VISA to study in the US to non-US Citizens. Information about my group and me can be found at this link:

The University of New Mexico is the premier research university in the state of New Mexico. UNM is a Carnegie R1 Highest Research Activity Institution and a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, with approximately 27,000 students on the main and branch campuses with nearly 2,900 students in the School of Engineering. In addition to the traditional areas of thermodynamics, heat transfer, materials science, engineering design, dynamic systems/controls, fluid mechanics, and computational mechanics, the Mechanical Engineering faculty and students are engaged in several thrust areas such as Nanotechnology, Energy, Space Systems Engineering, and Bioengineering. Funding agencies for the ME department included, NSF, NIH, DARPA, DTRA, DOE, NASA, local industry, LANL, AFRL, and SNL. The close proximity of AFRL, SNL and LANL is an important catalyst for the department research. Mechanical Engineering faculty members are associated with a number of UNM Research Centers including: Center for Emerging Energy Technologies, Center for Advanced Research Computing, Manufacturing Training and Technology Center, Center for High Technology Materials, the Center for Biomedical Engineering, Center for Micro-Engineered Materials, and the Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies.

Albuquerque is an ethnically diverse city and has been listed among the smartest U.S. cities and best places to relocate in America. The city has a rich culture and a location offering unparalleled opportunities for outdoor adventure. The University is located within one hour of Santa Fe, and within minutes of the Sandia and Manzano mountain ranges, which offer great opportunities for hiking, biking, rock climbing and skiing.

Funding Notes

The funding for this position comes from an NIH grant of which I am the PI for the duration of 3 years and the monthly salary is 1500 US$ per month. Tuition is also covered by the grant.

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