PhD Position: Directional 3D nanofiber network to mimic in-vivo myocardial syncytium towards guiding contraction patterns in in-vitro heart models (P1902)

100% positions for 4 years, earliest starting date: 1. January 2020

The Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI) at the University of Basel invites highly motivated scientists to apply for the SNI PhD program in Nanoscience.

Your position

Current in-vitro cardiac tissue-models lack a temporal electrocoupling of the cardiomyocytes through a network of highly conductive fibers. This so-called syncytium, consisting of Purkinjie fibers, is however the fundamental tissue property enabling the typical contraction pattern of the myocardium. In particular, those fibers are specialized cells with a high conductivity function capable to propagate timely the electrical signal throughout the whole myocardium (Ideker RE, et al., Purkinje Fibers and Arrhythmias, Pacing Clin Electrophysiol. 2009). In contrast to in-vivo cultures, the neonatal or fetal phenotype cells used for in-vitro cultures are not capable to fully mature and form branched cardiomyocytes with a syncytium. Therefore, an artificial syncytium needs to be implemented in cardiac tissue models.
This multidisciplinary PhD project in nano science with a focus on cardiac tissue bioengineering aims to mimic the Purkinjie fibers by implementing an electrically conductive and organized nanotube network into the engineered myocardial tissue in order to (1) promote the electrical coupling among neighboring cardiomyocytes, (2) form a functional syncytium and (3) potentially stimulate the maturation towards a branched myocardial tissue.

Your tasks
• development and 3D bioprinting of cell laden hydrogels for cardiac tissue engineering
• hydrogel functionalization with nanotubes
• use of electromagnetic fields to orient the nanotubes in 3D
• nanofabrication and nanoimaging
• cell culture and tissue engineering
• bioreactor technology development and implementation for physical conditioning (electrical,
mechanical) of bioengineered cardiac tissues;
• 3D morphometric analysis and functional assessment of cardiac tissue contractility;
• histological, biochemical, molecular assays.

Your profile

We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic PhD student interested in working on the generation of engineered patches for cardiac tissue repair. MSc in engineering, physics or biotechnology is preferred.
Fluency in English (speaking and writing) is mandatory.
You will also need to show:
• excellent oral communication skills in order to work effectively in an international environment
• the ability to learn specific, practical techniques and apply this knowledge to solve technical
problems
• scientific curiosity
• critical thinking ability
• teamwork skills and patience
• attention to detail
• self-motivated and proactive attitude

We offer you

A dynamic, multidisciplinary and young work-environment with top notch infrastructure. Career boost into the emerging fields of cardiac tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting. Collaborative involvement in different research projects. One-year-contract basis, which will be extended for the following 4 years.

The successful candidate will join an attractive interdisciplinary PhD programme together with the ~30 currently supported scientists. The SNI covers a wide variety of topics, including cutting edge quantum physics and chemistry, material science, nanotechnology, biochemistry, cell biology, or medical research.

Application / Contact

More information and the online application platform can be found at www.phd.nanoscience.ch. For questions please contact the head of the SNI PhD programme, Dr. Andreas Baumgartner (andreas.baumgartner@unibas.ch), or directly the respective project leaders. The complete application has to be submitted before 31 December 2019. Please note that the decision to fill a given vacancy can be taken at any time from now.