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PhD Position – Mechanobiological Regulation of Breast Epithelium Organization and Cell Invasion

Fr. 20.05.2022
Conducting research for a changing society: This is what drives us at Forschungs­zentrum Jülich. As a member of the Helmholtz Association, we aim to tackle the grand societal challenges of our time and conduct research into the possibilities of a digitized society, a climate-friendly energy system, and a resource-efficient economy. Work together with around 7,100 employees in one of Europe’s biggest research centres and help us to shape change! The Institute of Biological Information Processing – Mechanobiology (IBI-2) – is looking for a PhD student with a thesis project that aims at studying the mechanobiological signaling circuits between cells, the basement membrane and the extracellular matrix that regulate tissue development and homeostasis. We use and develop cutting-edge tools from molecular cell biology and biophysics to apply defined mechanical stimuli to cells and tissues cultured in mechanically defined environments and quantify the ensuing cell responses. To this end, we apply advanced live-cell microscopy and immunofluorescence imaging, cell force microscopy, and state-of-the-art techniques from molecular biology. We are an interdisciplinary group of biologists, physicists, and chemists who work hand in hand to accomplish the challenging scientific tasks in the fascinating field of mechanobiology. We greatly value teamwork and strive for excellent supervision. We are offering a PhD Position – Mechanobiological Regulation of Breast Epithelium Organization and Cell InvasionYour project concentrates on the cellular signal processing mechanisms between cells, the basement membrane (BM) migration barrier and the extracellular matrix (ECM). You will apply nature-like tissue strain on BM-covered 3D breast cell spheroids to investigate how mechanical ECM stresses regulate epithelial tissue homeostasis and BM invasion. Your tasks in detail will be: Employing in-house designed cell force microscopy and shear strain techniques to measure cell-derived forces and to exert mechanical stress on spheroids in hydrogels Analyzing the mechanoresponse of healthy and tumor breast cell spheroids to ECM stiffness and shear strain Studying proto-oncogene activity as a modulator of strain-induced cell invasion Using laser-assisted BM damage to analyze the related cellular response mechanisms Generating genetically modified cell variants to study the underlying signaling circuits that regulate cellular adaptation to mechanical stress Analyzing gene expression and protein activation in response to mechanical stress Applying high-resolution 3D confocal microscopy and 4D live-cell imaging Participating in national and international conferences to present your research results Interacting with local project partners as well as national and international collaborators Preparing scientific publications and project reports You have completed your biology, biotechnology, or biophysics studies very successfully with a M.Sc. degree, with an overall grade of at least “gut” (or equivalent, e.g., cum laude) Ideally you have expertise in the fields of biophysics or molecular cell biology You should have practical experience in standard techniques, such as light microscopy, live-cell imaging, and animal cell culture Very good command of written and spoken English Commitment to science and very reliable, conscientious style of working Excellent ability to cooperate and work in an interdisciplinary team We work on cutting-edge research in a highly relevant field of science. We offer ideal conditions for you to complete your doctoral degree: Significant expertise in state-of-the-art techniques and strategies in molecular cell biology and mechanobiology Excellent scientific mentoring by the scientific advisors and regular scientific discussions You will be part of the DFG-funded graduate school Mechanobiology in Epithelial 3D Tissue Constructs (ME3T; and work at the FZJ A highly motivated group in an international and interdisciplinary working environment at one of Europe’s most renowned research centers Developing your strengths through extensive training courses, a structured doctoral program of continuing education, and networking opportunities (JuDocS, the Jülich Center for Doctoral Researchers and Supervisors: Targeted services for international employees, e.g. through our International Advisory Service The position is initially for a fixed term of three years. Pay will be in line with 50% of pay group 13 of the Collective Agreement for the Public Service (TVöD-Bund) and additionally 60% of a monthly salary as special payment (“Christmas bonus”). It may be possible that the pay will be higher than the basic pay. Further information on doctoral degrees at Forschungszentrum Jülich including our other locations is available at
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