Reverse engineering morphogenesis

We seek to hire a postdoctoral research associate (PDRAs) to work on an interdisciplinary collaborative project between the Francis Crick Institute, the University of Warwick, and UCL. The aim of the project is to understand the biological and physical principles that underlie the acquisition and 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 and mechanical properties that shape the form and 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 and 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.

The project is a collaboration between the Francis Crick Institute, the University of Warwick, and University College London in the research groups of Dr James Briscoe (FCI), Assoc Prof Timothy Saunders (Warwick), and Prof Guillaume Charras (UCL).

The PDRA will be based at the UCL in the group of Prof Charras. They will examine the interplay between gene expression and cell mechanics using experimental biophysics approaches. Informal enquiries should be sent to Prof Guillaume Charras (g.charras@ucl.ac.uk). Click here to apply.

All positions – Application deadline: 06/06/2022.

All positions – preferred starting date: 1 August 2022 (or soon after).

All positions – Duration: Until 31 March 2025.

The posts are funded by a “Building collaborations at the Physics of Life interface” grant co-funded by EPSRC, BBSRC, MRC, and the Wellcome Trust.

We encourage applications from those who are underrepresented in the sector.