PhD in cell biophysics/mechanobiology

Updated: 26 days ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 31 May 2021

Project summary

The Mechanobiology and Soft Matter group led by Prof Sylvain Gabriele at the University of Mons (Belgium) has an opening for a PhD student in the area of cell biophysics1-3 . The project falls with the group’s focus on understanding how mechanical cues from the matrix influence the structure and function of epithelial cells. In collaboration with the Hannezo’s group (IST, Austria), we have recently shown that the substrate curvature leads to thickness modulation of the epithelial monolayer and affects significantly nuclear shape and function4 . We believe that these findings open new avenues for studying how mechanical and chemical signaling at the cellular and multicellular level can be modulated by the physico-chemical properties of the matrix (i.e. stiffness, curvature, etc.). The goal of this research project is to study how the long-distance transmission of signal-regulated kinase (ERK) waves can be regulated by the matrix curvature by combining our recent findings4 and the collaborative works of Hannezo and Hirashima (Kyoto University, Japan)5,6 groups.

This project will be conducted in a highly interdisciplinary environment and will involved extensive collaborations with the Hirashima’s group (experimental aspects) and Hannezo’s group (theoretical aspects).


1- D. Mohammed et al. Innovative tools for mechanobiology: unraveling outside-in and inside-out mechanotransduction Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 7, 162 (2019)

2- D. Mohammed et al. Substrate area confinement is a key determinant of cell velocity in collective migration Nature Physics 15, 858-866 (2019)

3- M. Versaevel et al. Collective migration during a gap closure in a two-dimensional haptotactic model Scientific Reports 11, 1-11 (2021)

4- M. Luciano et al. Large-scale curvature sensing by epithelial monolayers depends on active cell mechanics and nuclear mechanoadaptation BioRxiv

5- D. Boocok et al. Theory of mechanochemical patterning and optimal migration in cell monolayers Nature Physics 17, 267-274 (2021)

6- N. Hino et al. ERK-mediated mechanochemical waves direct collective cell polarization Developmental Cell 53, 646-660 (2020)

Desired skills

We are looking for a motivated, curious and autonomous candidate, eager to work in an interdisciplinary environment to perform a PhD in physico-chemistry for life sciences and cell biophysics. The ideal candidate would have an experimental training in cell biophysics and/or bioengineering, with experience in microfabrication techniques and cell culture. Experience in soft matter physics, image and data analysis is also desirable.

Further information

- The position is secured for 4 years and granted by the EPIFORCE project of the National Fund for Fundamental Research (F.R.S-FNRS)

- The salary is approximately 2000 €/month (must be defined based on the candidate’s CV)

- Preferred start date: 1st July 2021

- For inquiries, please contact Sylvain Gabriele:

- Lab website:

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