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This position is part of an interdisciplinary collaborative project between the Francis Crick Institute, the University of Warwick, & UCL. The aim of the project is to understand the principles that underlie the acquisition & organisation of tissue shape. Self-organisation necessitates a symmetry-breaking event that causes gene expression changes in a subpopulation of cells, resulting in changes in molecular & mechanical properties that shape the form & function of tissues. This process is iterative. As new contacts form between cells of different lineages, as some cells lose contact with the extracellular matrix, and as new secreted molecules are produced, further rounds of organisation take place. Thus, predicting the outcome of morphogenesis lies at the interface between physics and biology as it involves cycles of changes in mechanics & gene expression that feedback across multiple spatiotemporal scales. Our team will integrate physics and biological perspectives to understand and to predict how cycles of gene expression and mechanical changes give rise to complex morphogenesis of tissues and organs over a duration of several days.

In this project, we propose to determine how cell differentiation & cellular-scale mechanical changes combine to control shape acquisition using organoids generated in vitro from embryonic stem cells (neuruloids). This is an attractive system to reverse engineer as neuruloids reproducibly acquire complex tissue shapes & comprise multiple cell-types but remain sufficiently simple to allow spatiotemporal characterisation of cell morphology, mechanics, differentiation &  gene expression. We will determine how mechanics, adhesion, & gene expression interplay at the cell-scale to guide shape acquisition at the tissue-scale. The role holder will be responsible for carrying out experimental research on the project using techniques including, but not limited to, live cell microscopy, optogenetics, molecular cell biology, atomic force microscopy, image & data analysis. The candidate will also be required to analyse experimental data, and design new experimental approaches.

This research position is funded for 3 years in the first instance & the preferred start date for this position is 01/08/2022.

The successful candidate will have a PhD in a relevant area of Life or Physical Sciences (or at least have submitted their thesis) with an outstanding track record of research & publications. Extensive experience in cell biology, biophysics, & optical microscopy is essential. Additional experience with organoids, optogenetics, programming, micropatterning, & AFM is desirable.

The person must have demonstrated ability for creative, original independent research. The person must be adept at multi-tasking & organizing their work to meet deadlines. He/She must have a proven track record of working in multi-disciplinary teams.

Appointment at Grade 7 is dependent upon having been awarded a PhD; if this is not the case then the initial appointment will be at Research Assistant Grade 6B. Payment at Grade 7 would be backdated to the date of final submission of the PhD thesis.

If you have any queries regarding the vacancy or the application process, please contact Denise Ottley, d.ottley@ucl.ac.uk, at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, for advice.

Applicants should apply online. To access further details about the position and how to apply please click on the ‘Apply’ button.

Informal enquiries regarding the vacancy can be made to Professor Guillaume Charras, g.charras@ucl.ac.uk.

Latest time for the submission of applications: 23:59.

UCL Taking Action for Equality

We will consider applications to work on a part-time, flexible & job-share basis wherever possible.

Our department holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award, in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality.

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