A joint postdoc position between the labs of Wallace Marshall (UCSF) and Sindy Tang (Stanford) is immediately available in the area of single-cell wound healing. We are looking for a candidate with background in cell biology or related fields. This position will allow ample opportunities to learn new techniques including microfluidics for single-cell manipulation and mathematical modeling.
Uncovering the Biophysical Mechanisms of Single-cell Wound-healing
The overall goal of this NSF-funded project is to understand at a physical and molecular level how the giant single-celled organism Stentor coeruleus can heal robustly from large mechanical wounds that cause an opening in the plasma membrane. The key biological questions probed include: What sets the limit of the biggest wound the cell can recover from? Does the large size of the cell facilitate its wound healing, or has wound healing evolved to be particularly rapid in this cell? The rationales to focus on Stentor are: 1) its wound healing capacity is more robust than most other cells, capable of recovering from drastic wounds and regenerating from cell fragments as small as 1/27th of original cell size in 24 hours. 2) The ability to perform high-throughput gene knockdown and wounding experiments.
The research objectives are to: 1) Identify contributions to the healing process from membrane patching, purse-string constriction, or other mechanisms as identified by phosphoproteomics. 2) Develop a minimalistic whole-cell mathematical model of single-cell wound healing. 3) Test predictions of the model by measuring the kinetics of healing in cells as a function of wound size and cell size.
The intellectual merit of this research lies in the identification of the principles for repairing large mechanical wounds in a single cell, and the conditions under which the healing process will succeed or fail. Fundamentally, the ability to heal is one of the key features that distinguish living matter from non-living matter. This study will shed light into the problem of how some biological systems can heal more robustly than others. Practically, the work will lay the foundation for engineering a new function—self-repair—in synthetic cells, and will make the technology more robust for potential scale-up for practical industrial applications.
Skills useful for this project include:
• Cell biology
• Sample preparation and bioinformatics for phosphoproteomics
• Mathematical modelling of cellular processes
• RNAi and genetic transformation
• Past experience with Stentor, other ciliates, or manipulation (e.g., microinjection) of large cells or embryos such as Drosophila
- A PhD in biological sciences, bioengineering, or related fields.
- Ideally a background in cell biology.
For questions or applications (see below), please feel free to reach out to Prof. Wallace Marshall (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Prof. Sindy Tang (email@example.com).
Please email in a single PDF including:
- CV with publication list
- A 1/2 to 1-page summary of research accomplishment, why you are interested in this project, and your expected contributions
- Contact information of at least 3 references
- Links to 3 representative papers