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Mechanical regulation of wound healing and tissue regeneration

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  • Full or part time
    Dr T Millard
    Dr S Woolner
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

A major goal of current medical research is to develop therapies that improve the abilities of our bodies to repair and regenerate following tissue damage. In order to achieve this goal we need to understand how tissues detect and response to damage. The overall aim of our research is to fully understand the process of tissue repair at the molecular and cellular level. One aspect of tissue repair that is poorly understood is how tensile (stretching) forces acting at sites of tissue damage influence the repair process. In this project we will use genetics and state-of-the-art imaging techniques to explore how tensile forces affect tissue repair. We will use two model systems for this research. Firstly, the Drosophila embryo, which has a simple skin, equivalent to the outer layer human skin. We have developed techniques for time-lapse imaging of tissue repair following laser wounding of the skin of live Drosophila embryos and will use sophisticated genetic techniques to explore the function of individual genes during the repair process. Secondly, we will use cultures of human skin cells, which we can stretch with precision and hence observe how stretching influences repair. Using these two systems we will first determine how mechanical forces alter the dynamics and mechanism of tissue repair. We will then investigate how mechanical forces alter the behaviour of cells at damage sites at the molecular level. In particular we will investigate how cells sense and respond to stretching forces. This project will bring together biology and mechanics to answer a topical and medically important question and provide training in a variety of useful research techniques including bioimaging, genetics and biomechanics.

Funding Notes

This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website. For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website. Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.


Pickering K, Alves-Silva J, Goberdhan D, Millard TH. Par3/Bazooka and phosphoinositides regulate actin protrusion formation during Drosophila dorsal closure and wound healing. Development (2013) 140 800-9

Millard TH, Martin P. Dynamic analysis of filopodial interactions during the zippering phase of Drosophila dorsal closure. Development (2008) 135 621-626.

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