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From molecular dynamics to intracellular calcium waves

Project Description

Intracellular calcium waves are at the centre of a multitude of cellular processes. Examples include the generation of a heartbeat or the beginning of life when egg cells are fertilised. A key driver of intracellular calcium waves are ion channels, which are large molecules that control the passage of calcium ions across a cell. Importantly, these ion channels display stochastic behaviour such as random opening and closing. A key challenge in mathematical physiology and computational biology is to link this molecular stochasticity to travelling calcium waves.

In this project, we will use a fire-diffuse-fire (FDF) model of intracellular calcium waves and couple it to Markov chains of ion channels. Traditionally, simulating large numbers of Markov chains is computationally expensive. Our goal is to derive an effective description for the stochastic ion channel dynamics. This will allow us to incorporate the molecular fluctuations from the ion channels into the FDF model without having to evolve Markov chains. This will put us in an ideal position to answer current questions in cardiac dynamics (How does an irregular heart beat emerge, leading to a potentially life-threatening condition?) as well as to elucidate fundamental concepts in cell signalling.

Apply: This studentship is open now and will be available until it is filled. To apply please visit the University Of Nottingham application page: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/pgstudy/apply/apply-online.aspx

Funding Notes

Summary: UK/EU students - Tuition Fees paid, and full Stipend of £14,057 (2015/16 rate). There will also be some support available for you to claim for limited conference attendance.

Eligibility/Entry Requirements: We require an enthusiastic graduate with a 1st class degree in Mathematics (other highly mathematical field), preferably of the MMath/MSc level, or an equivalent overseas degree (in exceptional circumstances a 2:1 class degree, or equivalent, can be considered).

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