Tumours naturally require the generation of mechanical forces to progress and to increase their malignancy. For instance, actin and myosin generated forces drive tumour cell migration during metastasis, and forces ultimately drive individual cells to divide. However, recent evidence highlights that mechanical properties of tumours are also sensed by cells through activation of mechano-sensing pathways. For instance, stiffening of the extracellular environment of cancer cells may lead to the activation of the intracellular YAP/TAZ signalling pathway, which, in turn, can lead to cancer cell proliferation, migration or treatment resistance. On longer timescales, such cellular events will lead to tissue level alterations, such as the built-up of solid or fluid stresses, or further stiffening. Such complex feedbacks between molecular, cellular and tissue-level scales involving both chemical and mechanical information remain poorly understood.
In this project, the successful candidate will develop novel mathematical models and methods to gain unprecedented insights into the system-mechanobiology of cancer. You will join an exciting new project, funded through a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship where you will work closely with innovative experimental groups (e.g. Profs. Chris Bakal (Institute of Cancer Research, London), Alicia El Haj (Healthcare Technologies Institute) Michael Mak (Yale), Emad Moeendarbary (UCL)), that have devised new technologies to probe the mechanics of cancer, and with industrial partners (AstraZeneca, MICA Biosystems) to ensure that our work will contribute towards the urgent need devise therapies that can overcome the adverse effects of the physical tumour microenvironment.
Official applications have to be submitted through this webpage, selecting a PhD in Applied Mathematics