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Quantitative Fluorescence Microscopy

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Dirk-Peter Herten
    Dr I Styles
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Inflammation plays an important role in the development and progression of cardiovascular diseases. The modulation of inflammation and immunity by CD4+ regulatory T-cells has therefore received increasing attention. [1] The advent of advanced and single-molecule sensitive fluorescence microscopy methods now enables quantitative assessment of involved protein complexes and their interaction kinetics to further improve existing models of cell signalling. [2] In this context, we seek to establish robust methods for counting copy numbers of proteins participating in T-cell signalling using single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy. [3] Important questions involve a comparison of the opportunities and limitations of existing methods (bleach-step analysis, cluster analysis, and photon-statistics based approaches) as well as the development of robust analytical tools. Here, we also plan to explore the potentials of machine learning for single-molecule data analysis.

Applications are invited for a 3-year PhD fellowship funded by COMPARE (The Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors) in the laboratory of Prof. Dirk-Peter Herten. The appointed student will utilise different analytical tools, like machine learning, in combination with single-molecule fluorescence microscopy to compare existing methods, like bleach-step analysis, super-resolution cluster analysis and counting on photon-statistics (CoPS). Initially, the studies will focus on the theoretical exploration of methods aiming at analytical tools to investigate single-molecule data from in vitro and live-cell experiments.

All equipment required for the proposed study will be available in the Herten lab and the appointee will be trained in different techniques, ranging from single-molecule (super-resolution) fluorescence microscopy, basic molecular and cell biology, to different tools for data analysis (Python, MatLab etc.). Opportunities for presenting the research findings on national and international conferences will be provided. The proposed studies are part of the research consortium COMPARE and will also be presented on joint workshops of Uni Birmingham and Uni Nottingham.

Experience in mathematics, programming and optics will be helpful. We expect excellent oral and written communication skills; strong team working skills; an ability to take initiative to solve problems; strong motivation in driving projects forward; and a significant critical thinking capability. Candidates with previous experience in fluorescence microscopy, for example during lab rotations, are particularly encouraged to apply.

Funding Notes

This is a 3-year PhD fellowship funded by COMPARE (The Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors). Interested students should contact Prof Herten ([Email Address Removed]). Applicants should have a commitment to cross-disciplinary research in the field of biophysics and hold, or realistically expect to obtain, at least an Upper Second-Class Honours Degree in a relevant subject. Please send a covering letter highlighting your research experience and interests and also include a detailed CV (including nationality and country of birth), names and addresses of two referees, copies of your degree certificates with transcripts, evidence of your proficiency in the English language, if applicable.


[1] Meng et al. Nature Reviews Cardiovascular 2016 (10.1038/nrcardio.2015.169).
[2] Grussmayer et al. Meth. Appl. Fluoresc. 2019 (10.1088/2050-6120/aaf2eb).
[3] Grussmayer et al. PCCP 2017 (10.1039/C7CP00363C).

More information:

The Herten lab (currently transitioning to the University of Birmingham):

The Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE):

The Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences:

The School of Chemistry:

Postgraduate studies at the University of Birmingham:

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