Marie Curie Network PhD Student Position in Bone Biology and Repair
We are looking for a motivated PhD student to join the Laboratory of Skeletal Cell Biology and Physiology (SCEBP Lab) in the Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Center (SBE) at KU Leuven, Belgium, and participate in the “CarBon” project. The CarBon consortium focuses on controlling cartilage to bone transitions for improved treatment of bone defects and osteoarthritis in the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme of the European Union. In total, 14 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) function in the international CarBon network. ESR-12 at the SCEBP Lab will focus on cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating cartilage neovascularization, osteoprogenitor recruitment, and ossification during endochondral bone development, homeostasis and repair. Many people suffer from diseases of the locomotor system, such as bone defects or osteoarthritis, for which current treatments are insufficient. Understanding and controlling the dual character of cartilage is pivotal: insufficient transition impairs bone healing, and undesired transition to bone leads to osteoarthritis. In the CarBon project, state of the art in vitro, in silico and in vivo models will be uniquely combined to elucidate how this transition is orchestrated and how it can be modulated. In a multifactorial approach, a network of 14 young scientists will aim to identify the biological and physical factors that determine the fate of cartilage. Knowledge from the fields of tissue engineering, cartilage and bone developmental biology and pathobiology will be combined with skills from disciplines of cell biology, computational modelling, biotechnology and drug discovery.
ESR-12 in the Laboratory of Skeletal Cell Biology and Physiology (SCEBP) at KU Leuven will focus on the recruitment of mesenchymal stem and progenitor cells during endochondral ossification and the interplay between these cells and their local microenvironment in bone, especially the skeletal vasculature. These studies will lead to new insights into how healthy bones are built during embryogenesis and maintained in adult life, and how endogenous processes are (re-)activated and may be pivotal during the repair of bone defects. This knowledge is key to the future development of new osteo-anabolic therapies for bone diseases such as osteoporosis and for improvement of tissue-engineered applications to treat non-healing fractures.
Techniques: In this PhD project, the student will explore the role of specific signaling molecules in the context of bone development, homeostasis and repair by using genetically modified mice. The analysis involves a variety of state-of-the-art techniques, including nano-CT, molecular biology (qRT-PCR, Western blot, RNA-Seq), histology and immunohistochemistry, light and fluorescent microscopy, FACS, and in vitro culture systems (cell lines, primary cells, co-culture models, and tissue explants).
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