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Molecular, Cellular and Tissue Dynamics


Four-year fully funded studentships available for 2021 entry

These studentships offer an exciting opportunity to investigate the principles and mechanisms of the dynamic spatial organisation of molecules, cells and tissues with a view to understanding the molecular basis of human disease. Jointly supervised by internationally leading experts from biomedicine, engineering and the physical sciences, this programme will enable you to integrate molecular, quantitative and analytical approaches to undertake exciting new discovery science projects in cutting edge cell and developmental biology research.

Project supervisors

  • Munehiro Asally (Life Sciences) l Collective dynamics of bacterial colonies (biofilms, swarming), bacterial electrophysiology, fluorescent time-lapse microscopy. / see: Asally et al, PNAS, 2012 l working with: Marco Polin (Physics), Vasily Kantsler (Physics), Sara Kalvala (Computer Science).
  • George Bassel (Life Sciences) l The lab is using 3D image analysis and network science to reveal how cells come together to create tissues and organs l For more information see Jackson et al. 2017 (
  • Claire Bastie (Medical School) l Defining the regulatory mechanisms segregating visceral vs. subcutaneous fat storage to alleviate obesity-associated disorders. l structural biology and protein interactions; genome editing; live cell imaging; image analysis. l See: Oncotarget. 2017 Sep 21;8(49); Diabetes. 2014 Nov;63(11)
  • Mohan Balasubramanian (Medical School) l Synthetic Cell Biology: Using biophysics and chemistry to understand molecular mechanisms of actomyosin ring dependent eukaryotic cell division. l see: Huang et al, eLife, 2016 l working with: Nigel Burroughs (Maths).
  • Andrew Blanks (Medical School) | Reproduction in mammals, parturition and preterm birth, drug discovery, computational biology of bioelectrical systems. | see: Jolene et al, PLOS Computational Biology, 2016 | working with: Hugo van den Berg, David Rand (Maths).
  • Andrew Bowman (Medical School) | Research utilises novel synthetic biology approaches and fluorescence microscopy to observe chromatin assembly in living cells. | see: Apta-smith et al, EMBO, 2018.
  • Till Bretschneider (Computer Science) | Cell motility and the cytoskeleton, image analysis, computational modelling. | see: Tyson et al, PNAS, 2014 | working with: Karuna Sampath (Medical School), Andrew McAinsh, Rob Cross (Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology), Rob Kay (Cambridge), Kees Weijer (Dundee).
  • Nigel Burroughs (Maths) | Understanding complex biological data sets, primarily through construction and fitting of appropriate mathematical/statistical models. | see: Burroughs et al, eLife 2015 | working with: Andrew McAinsh, Rob Cross (Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology), Christian Eggeling (Oxford).
  • Joanna Collingwood (Engineering) | Imaging and quantification of transition metal ion distribution in the human brain, application to identifying changes in neurodegenerative disorders. | see: Collingwood & Davidson, Front. Pharmacology, 2014.
  • Rob Cross (Medical School) | Research focuses on the force generating mechanisms of kinesins and microtubules. | working with: Gemma Davies (Chemistry), Mathew Turner (Physics)
  • Robert Dallmann (Medical School) | Circadian clocks in health, disease and pharmacotherapy. | working with: David Rand (Maths).
  • Barbel Finkenstadt Rand (Statistics) l Interested in statistics and mathematical biology. Inference for temporal or spatio-temporal data from biological systems (from single cells to meta-populations). Stochasticity in gene expression. l see: Featherstone et al, eLife 2016 (5) l working with chronotherapy group at WMS (Levi, Innominato, Dallman, Ballesta), Rand (Maths), Hebenstreit (Life Sciences).
  • Bruno Frenguelli (Life Sciences) | Interested in several aspects of the brain: its ability to learn and remember, its vulnerability to stroke, epilepsy and injury and the role that the purines ATP and adenosine play in these processes. | see: zur Nedden et al, Neurochemistry, 2014 l working with: Pat Unwin (Chemistry), Daniel Hebenstreit (Life Sciences).
  • Erin Greaves (Medical School) | Investigating the enigmatic inflammatory disorder endometriosis to pin down etiology, disease mechanisms and potential novel therapeutic targets. Using genetically modified mouse models, in vivo imaging, human tissue, single-cell discovery. See Greaves et al, Am J Pathol 2014.

  • Geraldine Hartshorne (Medical School) | Human oocyte formation, selection, maturation and ageing; pre-implantation embryo development. | see: Patel et al, Biology Open, 2015 | working with: Andrew McAinsh (Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology).
  • Daniel Hebenstreit (Life Sciences) l Stochastic variation in biology | Next generation sequencing |Single molecule/cell studies |see: Archer N et al, Cell systems, 2016 l working with: Louise Dyson (Life Sciences, Mathematics); Keith Leppard (Life Sciences); Bruno Frenguelli (Life Sciences); Barbel Finkenstadt (Statistics); Andrew Nelson (Life Sciences).
  • Robert Huckstepp (Life Sciences) l Uses in vivo models to functionally dissect autonomic microcircuits in the brain and to study systems physiology, with a main focus on the cardiorespiratory system.
  • John James (Medical School) l My group uses optogenetic and chemical biological methods to understand how our immune cells are capable of discriminating between healthy and infected cells at the molecular level.l see: James et al (2017), Nat Struct Mol Biol. 24(12).
  • Alex Jones (Life Sciences) | Focused on the mechanisms regulating vesicle trafficking in development. Also leads the Proteomics Research Technology Platform with a particular interest in post translational modifications. | see: Wilhelm & Jones, J. Proteomics Res., 2014.
  • Vasily Kantsler (Physics) l Biophysics and physiology of micro-swimming, widely using microfluidics and optical microscopy methods. l see: Bukatin et all, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2015 l working with: Munehiro Asally, Andre Pires da Silva (Life Sciences).
  • Darius V. Koester (Medical School) | Understanding mechanisms of cellular mechano-sensing and membrane tension regulation based on cell cortex activity and its interaction with the plasma membrane using a combination of reconstituted, minimal systems, live cell experiments and controlled, mechanical micro-manipulations. | see : Köster et al. (2016), PNAS (USA), doi: 10.1073/pnas.1514030113. Sinha, Köster et al. (2011), Cell, doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.12.031
  • Józef Lewandowski (Chemistry) l Structural biology of protein complexes, membrane proteins and aggregates with a focus on solid-state and solution NMR. l see: Lamley et al, American Chemical Society, 2014.
  • Andrew McAinsh (Medical School) | Origins of chromosome mis-segregation in human disease early human development, live-cell imaging, in vitro reconsitution, genome editing, image analysis. | see: Smith et al, eLife 2016 | working with: Nigel Burroughs (Maths), Pete Scott (Chemistry), Till Bretchneider (Computer Science), Rob Cross (CMCB)
  • Fayyaz Minhas (Computer Science) l I work on the development of bespoke machine learning models in computational biology and pathology l see: Eitzinger, Simon, Amina Asif, Kyle E. Watters, Anthony T. Iavarone, Gavin J. Knott, Jennifer A. Doudna, and Fayyaz ul Amir Afsar Minhas. “Machine Learning Predicts New Anti-CRISPR Proteins.” Nucleic Acids Research. April 16, 2020. l working with: Nasir Rajpoot (Computer Science)
  • Masanori Mishima (Medical School) | Molecular mechanisms of animal cytokinesis. | see: Lee et al, Nat. Comms 6:7290, 2015 l working with: Irina Golovleva (Umea).
  • Andrew Nelson (Life Sciences) l Gene regulatory networks controlling lineage commitment and differentiation of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts using single-cell transcriptomics and functional genomics. | see Nelson et al, Nat Commun 2016 | working with: Karuna Sampath (Medical School), Daniel Hebenstreit (Life Sciences), Sascha Ott (Computer Science).
  • Adam Noel (Engineering) l Mathematical and statistical modelling of biophysical signal propagation, cellular signal processing, and molecular communication engineering l working with: Christophe Corre (SLS/Chemistry)
  • Kristen Panfilio (Life Sciences) l Genetics and fluorescent live imaging of cell behaviors and tissue integrity during epithelial morphogenesis (live cell imaging, image analysis, genome editing, gene expression, RNAi, animal embryos) | see Hilbrant et al, 2016 eLife 5: e13834 | working with: Karuna Sampath (Medical School), Andrew Nelson (Life Sciences), Till Bretschneider (Computer Science).
  • Sebastien Perrier (Chemistry) The development of novel materials for medical application; we engineer nanomaterials, which structure is controlled at the nm scale, to probe the function of cells and the various mechanism involved in living organisms, and then employ this knowledge to develop therapeutic systems. l see: Cobo et al, Nature Materials, 2015.
  • Marco Polin (Physics) l Uses experimental and theoretical tools from physics to advance our understanding of the biology of microorganisms. l see: Jeanneret et al, Nature Communications, 2016 l working with: Anne Straube (Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology), Meera Unnikrishnan (Medical School) and John McCarthy (Life Sciences).
  • Aparna Ratheesh (Medical School) l Mechanical and biochemical control of macrophage migration through tissue barriers during embryogenesis using quantitative live cell imaging, Drosophila genetics, biochemical and biophysical tools l see Ratheesh, al. Drosophila TNF modulates tissue tension in the embryo to facilitate macrophage invasive migration. Developmental Cell. 2018 May 7;45(3).
  • Stephen Royle (Medical School) l Cell biology at the molecular level. Mitotic spindle structure. Endocytosis and membrane trafficking. New genetically-encoded tools for cell biology. l see Clarke et al. Nature Communications (2018), Wood et al. J Cell Biol (2017) l working with Richard Bayliss (Leeds), Julia Brettschneider (Statistics) and Corinne Smith (Life Sciences).
  • Karuna Sampath (Medical School) | Mechanisms controlling development and differentiation in embryonic progenitors; live-imaging, proteomics, genome editing, quantitative approaches, zebrafish developmental genetics. | see: Yin et al, eLife 5:e13879 2016; Zaucker et al., NAR/gkx938, 2018 | working with: Till Bretschneider, Sascha Ott (Computer Science), Andrew Nelson (Life Sciences), Vatsala Thirumalai (India), Jan Gorodkin (Denmark), Yue Wan (Singapore).
  • Tim Saunders (Medical School) l The Saunders lab investigates the biochemical and biomechanical processes that lead to the emergence of complex organ shape during development. We utilise Drosophila and zebrafish along with advanced imaging and image analysis tools to bring a quantitative approach to understanding organogenesis. l see and
  • Corinne Smith (Life Sciences) | Structure and mechanism of macromolecular assemblies involved in clathrin-mediated endocytosis using high resolution cryo-electron microscopy, fluorescence and biophysical analysis. | see: Rothnie et al, PNAS 108, 2011 | working with: Matthew Turner (Physics), Nikola Chmel (Chemistry).
  • Michael Smutny (Medical School) | Interplay between mechanical forces and biochemical signaling in tissue morphogenesis, cell specification and cell migration during embryonic zebrafish development, using quantitative live cell imaging, biophysical measurements, transcriptomics and mathematical modeling. | see: Smutny et al. Nat Cell Biol 2017 | working with: Till Bretschneider (Computer Science), Verena Ruprecht (CRG Barcelona), Sanjeev Galande (Iiser Pune), Guillaume Salbreux (Crick, London)
  • Anne Straube (Medical School) | Mechanisms of microtubule organisation and dynamics regulation; microtubule functions in cell differentiation and migration; intracellular transport and molecular motors dynein and kinesin. | see: Mogessie et al, eLife 2015 | working with: Marco Polin (Physics), Tim Saunders (Singapore), Francois Nedelec (EMBL).
  • Matthew Turner (Physics) Builds predictive models of biological systems, primarily using pen-and-paper theory. Systems of interest include the cytoskeleton, membranes, molecular motors and organelle genesis and structures. l see: Morris and Turner, Phys. Rev. Lett, 2015 l working with: Nick Carter, Rob Cross (Centre for Mechanochemical Cell Biology), Patricia Bassereau, Pierre Sens (Institute Curie).

Key Facts

Four-year MSc + PhD fully funded programme

Contact: Sally Blakeman

Email: mrcdtp at warwick dot ac dot uk

Telephone: 024 7652 3913

Apply here