Research Fellow on Systems-Mechanobiology of Health and Disease

About SMB Forums Open Positions Research Fellow on Systems-Mechanobiology of Health and Disease

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    We are recruiting a Research Fellow with a background in mathematics, theoretical physics, bioengineering or related areas to work on a recently funded £1.3M UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship project ‘Systems-Mechanobiology of Health and Disease’, led by Dr Fabian Spill at the University of Birmingham. The goal of this project is to uncover how mechanical forces, cell shape or spatio-temporal organisation of molecules affect cell behaviour in health and disease, and how therapies can overcome the often-adverse effects of mechanics on disease progression. We will do this through an integrated approach with mathematical modelling and experiments, collaborating with Profs. Chris Bakal (Institute for Cancer Research, London), Michael Mak (Yale), Alicia El Haj (Healthcare Technologies Institute), Emad Moeendarbary (UCL) and industry partners AstraZeneca and MICA Biosystems.

    Systems biology underpins our success in integrating the wealth of quantitative biological data generated from basic research as well as from studying complex diseases, including the UK’s major killers: cancer, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Mathematical methodology is critical to achieve this integration, and to develop predictive models that can utilise patient specific data for precision medicine applications, improving diagnostics and optimising personalised treatments.

    Current systems-biology models focus on the integration of multi-omics data (e.g. genomic and proteomic data), but largely neglect signatures that recent research identified to be of critical importance in driving a large class of diseases: mechanical signatures.

    Mechanical signatures include stiffened and realigned extracellular matrix, alterations in intracellular forces and obstructions of blood flow. These occur in a broad range of conditions such as solid tumours, atherosclerosis, cardiac fibrosis or liver cirrhosis. Crucially, we now know that these mechanical signatures are sensed by cells and can activate intracellular pathways that may further drive disease development, progression and treatment responses.

    The research fellow will develop the urgently needed mathematical models, integrated closely with experimental disease models, that provide fundamental insights into the bi-directional interplay of mechanical and non-mechanical signatures of cells and tissues. The long-term goal of these models is to predict potential therapeutic targets to overcome adverse effects of mechanical signatures on disease progression.

    Informal enquiries can be made to Fabian Spill;

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