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Max Planck Insti­tute of Col­loids and Inter­faces - Depart­ment of Bio­ma­ter­i­als

The Depart­ment of Bio­ma­ter­i­als focuses on inter­dis­cip­lin­ary research in the field of bio­lo­gical and bio­mi­metic mater­i­als. The emphasis is on under­stand­ing how the mech­an­ical or other phys­ical prop­er­ties are gov­erned by struc­ture and com­pos­i­tion and how they adopt to envir­on­men­tal con­di­tions.

Mas­ter thesis at the Max Planck Insti­tute (15h/week)

Topic: Extra­cel­lu­lar mat­rix bio­phys­ical cues in breast can­cer dormancy and bone meta­stasis

Work­ing field:

Bioen­gin­eered sys­tems allow inde­pend­ent con­trol of bio­phys­ical prop­er­ties and have con­trib­uted to the under­stand­ing of how cells sense extra­cel­lu­lar mat­rix (ECM) phys­ical cues in tis­sue regen­er­a­tion. Mater­i­als sci­ence approaches have also been used to invest­ig­ate dif­fer­ent steps in can­cer pro­gres­sion, such as tumor growth, hom­ing or meta­stasis. Breast can­cer is one of the lead­ing causes of can­cer-asso­ci­ated deaths among women world­wide. Breast can­cer often meta­stas­izes to bone, which can occur even after 10 years fol­low­ing tumor resec­tion. This implies that can­cer cells can undergo a dormancy phase. However, the mech­an­isms under­ly­ing can­cer dormancy and react­iv­a­tion, and in par­tic­u­lar the role of ECM bio­phys­ical cues, are poorly under­stood.

Amongst vari­ous phys­ical cues, osmotic pres­sure has been asso­ci­ated with qui­es­cence of pro­state can­cer cells (Hav­ard, JBC, 2011) and with changes in cell volume, stiff­ness and cell fate (Guo, PNAS, 2017). We hypo­thes­ize that changes in osmotic pres­sure and fluid flow, char­ac­ter­istic of the tran­sca­pil­lary driv­ing forces in the bone mar­row, have an effect in cell volume and cell cycle state. Micro­fluidic sys­tems will be used to trap single cells and pre­cisely con­trol changes in osmotic pres­sure and fluid flow. Genet­ic­ally mod­i­fied cells with FUCCI cell cycle reporter will allow detect and quantify the state and dur­a­tion of the G0-G1 qui­es­cent cell cycle phase (red) or S-G2-M pro­lif­er­at­ive phase (green). A spe­cial emphasis is laid on inter­dis­cip­lin­ary research so that a close col­lab­or­a­tion with sci­ent­ists work­ing on the syn­thesis of organ­o­typic cell microen­vir­on­ments will be expec­ted.

For more inform­a­tion: http://www.mpikg.mpg.de/5930314/master-thesis-student.

Require­ments:

We are look­ing for a stu­dent with a back­ground in mater­i­als sci­ence, bio­chem­istry, bio­tech­no­logy, bio­phys­ics or sim­ilar. Prac­tical exper­i­ence with cell cul­ture and fluor­es­cence micro­scopy is appre­ci­ated. Skills in sci­entific image ana­lysis (such as Fiji) and basic know­ledge of qPCR and micro­fluidics would be a plus. Good know­ledge in Eng­lish and self-motiv­a­tion are required.

What we of­fer:

Pro­ject start: April-June 2018, 6-8 months. Pos­sib­il­ity to apply for an exten­sion into a PhD pro­gram.
Pay­ment: 60 hours/month at the stand­ard MPI stu­dent rate.

How to ap­ply:

Please send a motiv­a­tion let­ter explain­ing why you would like to join the pro­ject, your CV, a tran­script of your uni­versity record and two ref­er­ences per email to Amaia Cipitria (amaia.cipitria@mpikg.mpg.de), indic­at­ing “Dormat­rix – Mas­ter thesis applic­a­tion” in the sub­ject line.