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Name of scholarship/program

New photonics tools unravel the mysteries and mechanics of biological cells



Important description
Biologists have compelling evidence that in addition to biochemical signals, mechanical forces have a major impact on a wide range of processes in cell biology, with examples ranging from cell migration and cell growth to the spreading of cancer and the differentiation of stem cells. However, there is at present a shortage of suitable tools to measure the force exerted by a cell which often is well below 1nN (i.e., < 10-6 N (!)).

By developing a novel optical micro-cavity-based sensor technology, the Gather Lab seeks to overcome current limitations in measuring cellular forces and ヨ for instance ヨ investigate the mechanics involved in the formation and the growth and repair of nerve cells.

The basic working principle of our sensors is to detect shifts in the resonance frequency of a micro-cavity due to mechanical forces applied by cells cultured on the sensor. These shifts can be detected with high spatial and temporal resolution and the forces at play are then computed from this by a finite element method.

A PhD in the field of cellular mechanics provides you with a broad, interdisciplinary skill set: You will learn and apply a range of micro- and nano-fabrication methods and work in a state-of-the-art cleanroom. You will use different types of optical spectroscopy and work with atomic force microcopy. You will receive hands-on training in cell culturing techniques and perform studies of e.g. stem cell differentiation.


Eligibility and other criteria


Application deadline
* Applications accepted all year round


Additional information, and important URL
http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/physics/PHP_Global/Staff_Info.php?id=664

The project is part of an international collaboration with leading scientists at Harvard Medical School and University of Cambridge which is funded by the Human Frontier Science Program, the leading funding institution for interdisciplinary and international collaborative research into complex biological systems.

http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/physics/PHP_Global/Staff_Info.php?id=664


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