Self-funded PhD opportunities

Mechanobiology of cardiac interstitial cells.

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences
  • PhD Supervisor: Dr. Sassan Hafizi (Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences) and Dr. Afshin Anssari-Benam (Engineering)

Apart from myocytes and vascular cells, the heart is also composed in large part of fibroblasts or interstitial cells (ICs); these are dynamic cells, with the ability to sense and respond to the environment profoundly in a variety of ways, e.g. differentiation, proliferation, matrix secretion and contraction. In this PhD project, we will study the genotypic and phenotypic differences between ICs from human hearts with different pathologies where IC remodelling features highly, e.g. myocardial infarction, cardiomyopathies, aortic valvular disease. This knowledge about the properties of those different IC populations could lead to novel and more effective therapies for those distinct cardiac diseases.

This project will be most suitable for a student with an interest in biomedical research, further enhanced by an interest in cellular biomechanics. The student will join a vibrant research environment within the university’s Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Science (IBBS), with close links to the School of Engineering. The project will employ in vitro cultures of human heart ICs from a variety of pathologies, which the student will study using various cell and molecular assays to determine the cells’ phenotypes in response to both humoral and mechanical stimulation, to reproduce the conditions within the heart wall. To this end, the student shall be trained in a range of biochemical and cell biological techniques, including cell culture, molecular expression analyses, immunohistochemical techniques, confocal microscopy, and biomechanical models.

In addition you will have access to a skills development program run by the university’s Graduate School. The experimental and analytical skills developed during this project will prepare the student well for a future career in academia or industry.

Research Group Web Site (link to UoP research web pages)

Funding Status: Self funded - University fees (currently, £13,100 for International Students and £4,052 for Home and EU students) + (plus additional bench fees of £6,000 per annum).

Search terms: Fibroblasts, biomechanical, extracellular matrix, heart disease, cardiovascular, cardiac, fibrosis, cardiomyopathy, myocardial infarction, tissue engineering, wound repair, cell biology, in vitro culture.

Click here to apply.