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Understanding the cytoskeletal and biophysical changes associated with fibroblast activation during scar formation

Project Description

A PhD studentship is available to work in the laboratory of Dr. Brian Stramer ( in the Randall Centre for Cell and Molecular Biophysics, King’s College London. The successful applicant will be joining a dynamic, interdisciplinary lab, within one of the world’s top research universities. Our laboratory is broadly focused on understanding the role and regulation of cell migration during development and disease, and has expertise in state-of-the-art imaging techniques and computational approaches to address problems in cell and developmental biology.

We are seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic candidate with a background in cell biology/biochemistry/biophysics to study the mechanisms controlling fibroblast activity during scar formation. This project is in close collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Tanya Shaw, in the Centre for Inflammation Biology and Cancer Immunology at King’s College London ( Our groups have been studying cellular changes associated with keloid scarring. Keloids are an extreme form of scar formation in which scars overgrow the boundary of the original wound site. We have isolated fibroblast samples from keloid and normal patient skin and discovered significant cytoskeletal and biochemical changes that we hypothesize are involved in scar progression. This exciting PhD position will investigate how these cellular alterations occur, and subsequently determine how this may affect the biophysical properties of the scar tissue. Furthermore, an overarching goal will be to screen for possible molecular targets that inhibit fibroblast changes associated with the disease with the hope of generating future treatments. The selected candidate will gain experience in cell and molecular biology, along with state-of-the-art imaging techniques. Additionally, the candidate will also get exposure to computational image analysis approaches, and if interested additional training in programming and data analysis.

The candidate will be joining an interdisciplinary team that is mostly based in the Randall Centre at the Guy’s Campus of King’s College London. Our group is part of a vibrant department with numerous researchers studying the cell biology and biophysics of the cytoskeleton, and the student will gain exposure to numerous techniques and model systems. Additionally, the student will spend time embedded in the laboratory of Dr. Tanya Shaw and gain wider clinically relevant knowledge in the tissue repair field. Importantly, the school will also provide opportunities for career development activities, such as presentation and writing skills.

Prospective candidates should have a 1st or 2:1 level qualification in cell biology/biophysics/biochemistry or a related programme. Applicants are also required to meet King’s English language requirements (Band D,

For more information about our laboratory see: Should potential candidates be interested in other projects in the laboratory please feel free to contact us for an informal chat.

To apply, please send a CV and transcript to Dr. Brian Stramer ()

Funding Notes

There is currently no funding attached to this PhD call and the successful applicant will be expected to provide their own funding. We prefer candidates that have secured, or wish to secure, their own competitive funding from overseas government agencies or employers. King’s College London provides a list of possible schemes on the following website:
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Representative publications from our group:
Matsubayashi Y, Louani A, Dragu A, Sanchez-Sanchez B, Serna-Morales E, Yolland L, Gyoergy A, Vizcay G, Fleck R, Heddleston J, Chew T, Siekhaus D, Stramer B. (2017) A Moving source of matrix components is essential for de novo basement membrane formation. Curr. Biol. 27(22):3526-3534

Stramer B, Mayor R. (2016) Mechanisms and in vivo functions of contact inhibition of locomotion.  Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. 

Shaw TJ, Martin P. (2016) Wound repair: a showcase for cell plasticity and migration. Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 42:29-37

Davis J, Luchici A, Mosis F, Thackery J, Salazar J, Mao M, Dunn G, Betz T, Miodownik M, Stramer B. (2015) Inter-cellular Forces Orchestrate Contact Inhibition of Locomotion.  Cell. 161:361-373. 

Davis J, Huang C, Zanet J, Harrison S, Rosten E, Cox S, Soong D, Dunn G, Stramer B.  (2012)  Emergence of embryonic pattern through contact inhibition of locomotion.  Development. 139: 4555-4560.

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