Single Cell Deformation for Understanding Progression


Contact Professor Stephen Evans to discuss this project further informally.

Project description

The deformability of a cell is the direct result of a complex interplay between the different constituent elements at the subcellular level, coupling a wide range of mechanical responses at different length-scales. Changes to the structure of these components can also alter cell phenotype, thus the critical importance of cell mechano-response for diagnostic applications.

The response to mechanical stress depends strongly on the forces experienced by the cell. Here we are interested in how cell deformability in both shear-dominant and inertia-dominant microfluidic flow regimes can be used to probe different aspects of the cell structure. In the inertial regime we follow cellular response from (visco-)elastic through plastic deformation to cell structural failure and show a significant drop in cell viability for shear stresses above > 11.8 kN/m2.

The shear dominant regime provides high strains for lower applied shear stress and deformation traces as a function of time contain a rich source of information including; maximum strain, elastic modulus and cell relaxation times and thus provide a number of markers for distinguishing cell types and disease stage. Our early results for leukemia cells (HL60) as a model circulatory cell and for a colorectal cancer cell line SW480 derived from primary adenocarcinoma (Dukes stage B) show that the relaxation dynamics can distinguish cell types.

In this project we are seeking to establish whether this methodology can be extended to look at either 1) the role of switching mechnosensitive ion channel on /off and the relationship to cancer signalling or 2) control of pore formation for the uptake of biologicals and gene therapy.

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from candidates with or expecting a minimum of a UK upper second class honours degree (2:1), and/or a Master's degree in Physics or relevant subject such as (but not limited to) chemistry and biophysics.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English Language requirements.

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the university's website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the PhD you wish to be considered for is 'Single Cell Deformation for Understanding Progression' as well as Professor Stephen Evans as your proposed supervisor.

We welcome scholarship applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

If you require any further information please contact the Graduate School Office, e: