molecular cell biology | Scholarship for Nigerians and Africans - Part 2

Fully Funded PhD Studentship in Cell Biology, UK

The ability to migrate is an essential feature of most animal cells. During development, motion of cells is required for morphogenesis (e.g. gastrulation, organogenesis). In adult animals, cell motilityplays an important role in normal physiology (e.g. to combat infection) and disease (e.g. cancer metastasis). Although cell motility has been intensely studied, the overwhelming majority of the research effort has so far focused on just one mechanism of locomotion, prevalent when cells are cultured on glass substrates: lamellipodial-based migration. However, when migrating in 3D environments, cells can utilise other modes of motility in addition to lamellipodial motility. An increasing number of studies point to the importance of blebbing motility which is based on the formation of blebs at the leading edge. Blebs are quasi-spherical membrane protrusions that grow and disappear in minutes. They are initially devoid of F-actin but after bleb growth stops, an actin-rich cortex regrows under the membrane. Blebbing motility is essential for some embryonic cells during development. White blood cells can migrate using bleb-like protrusions when placed in 3D matrices. Some metastatic cancer cells can use blebbing motility to escape anti-tumour treatments, which block lamellipodial motility by targeting protease activity. Other tumour cells use blebs to cross the endothelium to invade tissues.

For blebbing to be translated into movement, cells need to exert forces on the extracellular environment and translocate their mass. During lamellipodial motility, cell-body translocation is achieved by contraction of the cell rear coupled to adhesion of the lamellipodium
to the substrate and forward protrusion.. In contrast, hardly anything is known about the sequence of events leading to motion in blebbing motility. Whether or not blebs actually adhere to the substrate is unknown. However, since blebbing motility is much more efficient when
cells are sandwiched between two surfaces, this suggests that pushing forces against the substrate, in addition to pulling on adhesions, could be involved. Little is known about F-actin cortex dynamics and its regulation during blebbing motility.

In summary, our understanding of blebbing motility lags far behindthat of lamellipodial motility. This proposal aims to explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying bleb-based migration, an important yet understudied mode of cellular motility. Using a cell line that uses bleb to locomote (Walker carcinosarcoma cells), we will focus on two main objectives:
1) Understanding cell body translocation during blebbing motility in confined environments
2) Investigating the molecular mechanisms of movement in blebbing motility

Candidates should have a strong academic record: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in Molecular Cell Biology with a first or an upper class second. This project involves a significant experimental component and previous experimental research experience is desirable. Research
experience in cell culture, molecular biology, and fluorescence microscopy is a plus. The stipend is of the order of £15k per year and
tuition fees will be covered. Funding is available to UK and EEA candidates. Interviews will occur on a rolling basis until the
position is filled.

Suitably qualified candidates interested in performing cutting edge research in a multidisciplinary scientific environment in order to understand blebbing motility should send their CV to Dr Guillaume Charras (,

Scholarship Application Deadline:Contact Employer

Further Scholarship Information and Application

Research Assistant Position, The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Germany

We are currently seeking a research assistant (MTA or BTA) in the laboratory of Dr. Jochen Rink at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden. The lab studies planarian flatworms, which are an exciting new model system for regeneration research.

The successful applicant will take an active part in the research, requiring a genuine interest in biology, precise and reliable working habits and excellent communication skills for synergizing with the highly interactive work environment at the MPI-CBG. Experience with molecular biology (plasmid isolation, cloning, PCR, recombinant protein expression) and antibody production would be advantageous. The applicant will further take over lab maintenance responsibilities, including ordering and organizing/maintaining reagent collections, for which computer skills would be helpful. The working language of the MPI-CBG is English.

The position is initially for 2 years and will be compensated according to the TVÖD scale.

The Max Planck Society is committed to employing more handicapped individuals and especially encourages them to apply. The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Scholarship Application Deadline: 28 January 2011

Further Scholarship Information and Application

PhD Scholarship at University of Groningen, Netherlands

A better understanding of complex or polygenic diseases has become a major research topic in the field of human genetics. A common hypothesis in this field is “common disease, common variant”, which suggests that complex diseases are caused by a large set of common but weak disease-associated variants. To find these common variants, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are being undertaken to detect the genomic loci (and the genes therein) in many common, complex diseases. However, the identified loci usually only account for a fraction of the total genetic risk. This project is based on a complementary hypothesis, namely that besides many common weak mutations, complex diseases also need several rare, but probably stronger, mutations. To test this hypothesis we will work on a highly heritable, complex disorder called Hirschsprung disease (HSCR).

The two PhD students will combine next generation sequencing with expression data generated from enteric nervous system progenitors (in both man and mouse) and functionally analyse potential candidate disease genes in vitro and in vivo to test our hypothesis. Not only will we be able to unravel the genetic background of HSCR, but we will also gain a better insight into how the enteric nervous system develops. These findings may also serve as a model for other complex diseases and establish the importance of combinations of rare, coding and non-coding variants in complex disease.

What do we need?
We are looking for candidates with an MSc in molecular cell biology. They should be highly ambitious, have strong social skills, and the ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment. In addition, the candidates should have a strong interest in bioinformatics/biostatistics.
Scholarship Application Deadline: 11 January 2011
Further scholarship Information and Application