Scientific internship: Regulating the lifespan of the extracellular matrix
The interaction of cells with the extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a crucial role in regulating many physiological processes such as wound healing, cancer metastasis and fibrosis. The ECM is a complex hierarchical and fibrous material that provides dynamic and reciprocal mechanical cues to the cells: the cell shape and behavior are influenced by the stiffness and architecture of the matrix, which is in turn deformed and actively remodeled by the cells. While adult tissues are mainly composed of collagen, during wound healing a temporary ECM is made from the plasma protein fibrin. This matrix seals off the wound and provides a highly extensible scaffold that stiffens upon deformation, able to withstand the mechanical forces involved in blood flow and tissue remodeling. Once the wound has healed, the fibrin matrix needs to rapidly and completely disappear to ensure normal blood circulation. This all-or-nothing behavior is a unique property of fibrin, not found in any other biomaterial.
Within this project, you will use biochemical and biophysical techniques that integrate force measurements with fluorescence imaging to understand how cells tune their environment, by remodeling and degrading the surrounding fibrin matrix. Given the natural functions of fibrin, understanding the mechanism that regulates its lifespan is of particular relevance for the design of clinical products employed in wound healing and in tissue engineering, offering the possibility to design smart and fully biocompatible scaffolds.
About the group
The candidates should have a Bachelor’s degree in physics or in a related subject and participate in a Master study in a related field. A background in soft matter and biological physics is desirable, but not required. The internship must be a mandatory part of your curriculum. You have a nationality of an EU-member state or if not, you are a student at a Netherlands University. You must be available for at least 6 months.
Terms of employment
At the start of the traineeship your trainee plan will be set out, in consultation with your AMOLF supervisor.
Prof.dr. Gijsje Koenderink
Group leader Biological Soft Matter
Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100
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