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Self-assembly and phase separation in biological systems

School of Biological Sciences

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Prof Andrew Goryachev No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A PhD project is available in the Andrew Goryachev’s group to model protein self-assembly and phase separation in biological cells using particle-based methods and reactive Brownian dynamics simulations. The student will use ESPResSo and/or HOOMD-Blue open-source community-developed packages for Brownian dynamics to develop methods for modelling of protein-protein interactions, chemical reactions between proteins, and, ultimately, self-assembly of large spatially complex cellular structures, such as centrosomes. Particular focus of the project is in developing novel approaches for modelling phase separation based on the protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions. The project is suitable for graduates with skills in mathematics, physics, and chemical engineering and interests in biology as well as biological and soft matter physics. Interested candidates are strongly advised to directly contact the supervisor ([Email Address Removed]) before applying.

The Goryachev group works on the interface of mathematical modelling, soft matter physics, and cell biology. The student will have an opportunity to learn science and methods of the above disciplines and acquire practical skills in the design of biological models, analytical analysis and numerical solution of reaction-diffusion equations. The student will receive training in nonlinear dynamical systems, bifurcation theory and stability analysis. With continuing coaching and guidance, the student is expected to read and interpret biological literature, construct models and perform their numerical simulation and analysis. The project offers an excellent opportunity to enter modern cutting-edge research on the interface of biological and physical sciences while contributing to publications in the high-profile journals.

The research focus in the Goryachev group ( is on understanding biophysical mechanisms of symmetry breaking in biological systems. Symmetry breaking manifests itself in a variety of dazzling biological phenomena and our aim is to improve their understanding via construction of predictive mechanistic models. We are looking for motivated, enthusiastic young people with the background in physical, life, computational sciences and engineering who are passionate about research. Depending on the student’s interests and specific project details, there exists an opportunity to learn laboratory skills in the labs of our collaborators.

Several types of competitive scholarships are available for the prospective PhD students at the University of Edinburgh. Depending on the topic, allied faculty from physics, mathematics and informatics departments are available as co-supervisors.

The School of Biological Sciences is committed to Equality & Diversity:

Funding Notes

The “Institution Website” button on this page will take you to our Online Application checklist. Please complete each step and download the checklist which will provide a list of funding options and guide you through the application process.

If you would like us to consider you for one of our scholarships you must apply by 6 January 2021 at the latest.


1. J. Anderson et al., HOOMD-blue: A Python package for high-performance molecular dynamics and hard particle Monte Carlo simulations, Comp Mat Sci 173, 109363 (2020).
2. F. Weik et al., ESPResSo 4.0 – an extensible software package for simulating soft matter systems, Eur. Physical J. Special Topics, 227(14), 1789 – 1816, (2019).
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