About the Project
This PhD will focus on the development of 3D in vitro models for two fibrotic renal pathologies: renal fibrosis and solid renal tumours. Fibrosis, the pathological accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, results in thickening of the tissue and directly interferes with both normal tissue function and the ability to deliver drugs to the tissue. The key cell populations in the connective tissue (stroma) involved in fibrosis are “activated” fibroblasts, which lay down ECM proteins, and the immune cells which release soluble factors to stimulate fibroblasts. The interplay between these two cell types, and further with tissue-resident epithelial cells, ultimately drive the fibrotic phenotype.
This PhD will utilise 3D in vitro renal models to define the interplay between the two key cell types, fibroblasts and immune cells, and map against stages of fibrosis. The project will deliver a sophisticated, well-defined model of fibrosis for kidney pathologies, which will be robust and reproducible at point of use. Unique features of the model we propose are (i) controlled collagen density in 3D; (ii) doping of additional extracellular matrix components to match tissue composition; (iii) compartmentalized nature to segregate cells whilst allowing cell crosstalk and migration; (iv) ability to quantify measures of cell migration and morphology changes. The optimised 3D models will be used as platforms to test existing and novel candidate anti-fibrotic compounds.
The candidate is required to have 1st or 2:1 class in any biological sciences or biomedical sciences bachelors programme. The candidate will be expected to be a critical thinker and have the ability to work independently. We also expect the candidate to demonstrate strong verbal and written communication skills, both in plain English and scientific language for communication with academic staff, publication in relevant journals and presentation at conferences.
Lab experience including; Tissue culture experience; Molecular biology experience, mainly quantitative PCR; 3D biology, pharmacodynamics.
Flexible, able to work collaboratively
A strong team player with good interpersonal skills able to build and sustain effective working relationships.
We particularly welcome applicants from underrepresented groups.
The studentship covers only the fees for UK/EU students. Additional fees may be required for students applying who do not fulfil the criteria for UCL home students. Please check the UCL website for full criteria at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/current-students/money/fees-support/fee_status_proc.
To make an application, please email your CV and a covering letter to: Professor Umber Cheema and/or Professor Marilena Loizidou explaining your interests, engineering and research experience (including examples of previous project work) to [Email Address Removed] or [Email Address Removed].
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