Postdoctoral Training Fellow – Organ Morphodynamics Lab
Reports to: Rashmi Priya, Group Leader
Salary for this role: Competitive with benefits, subject to skills and experience.
This is a full-time, fixed term (4 years) position on Crick terms and conditions of employment.
We are looking for a postdoctoral fellow interested in combining interdisciplinary approaches to dissect organ morphogenesis using zebrafish heart as a model system. The suitable candidate will use interdisciplinary approaches from quantitative cell biology, developmental genetics and theoretical physics in collaboration to study how a developing heart transforms from a simple epithelium into a highly intricate functional organ.
The Research Group
The overarching goal of the Priya lab is to address how multicellular complexity (form, fate and function) emerge during embryonic development. We are an interdisciplinary lab focused on decoding the design principles of organ morphogenesis across length scales using a well-suited vertebrate model system – zebrafish heart, a system highly amenable to various genetic and optical manipulations.
Heart is the first functional organ in a developing embryo. One critical step during vertebrate heart development is trabeculation, which is crucial for heart function. During trabeculation, the myocardial wall of the heart transforms from a single-layered epithelium into a complex 3D architecture consisting of two distinct cell types: outer compact layer and inner trabecular layer cardiomyocytes (CMs). We have recently shown that local differences in the mechanical properties of CMs trigger this morphological symmetry breaking. CMs with higher mechanical tension delaminate stochastically to seed the trabecular layer and this spatial segregation is also sufficient to induce their differential fate program (Priya et al., 2020). Eventually, these single trabecular cells undergo complex morphological transformations to generate higher-order multicellular structures called trabecular ridges, which span the ventricular lumen (Priya et al., 2020, Fig. 3f).
How the simple myocardial epithelium acquires intricate topological complexity and diverse cell fate to support heart functions is not yet understood. Taking a systems biology approach, we aim to deconstruct this multiscale complexity by studying the developing heart, as a whole, in a growing zebrafish embryo. Some of the fundamental problems we seek to address are – a) How form (shape, mechanics, and polarity) control cell fate decisions? b) How tissue curvature and hydraulics orchestrate organ patterning? c) How local modulation of extracellular matrix dynamics contributes to trabecular morphogenesis? d) How macroscopic properties of the mature myocardial wall emerges to support heart functions?
The suitable candidate will address one of these fundamental questions by using cross-disciplinary approaches, for e.g., 4-D live-imaging, quantitative image analysis, optogenetics, biophysical manipulations, biosensors, knock-in technology and controlled genetic perturbations.
We have generous core-funding support and access to state-of-the-art facilities and technology platforms including Advanced light microscopy, High throughput sequencing, Bioinformatics and image analysis help desk. The Francis Crick and the participating organizations (UCL, Imperial College London and King's College London) offer a highly inclusive, collaborative and thriving research community. The Francis Crick runs an exceptional postdoc training program, designed to prepare the postdocs for their future career with many trainings and career development opportunities.
The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values – bold, imaginative, open, dynamic and collegial.
- Lead their own projects and contribute to other projects on a collaborative basis (both in the lab and with external collaborators)
- Providing specialist advice and share knowledge and expertise with the lab
- Develops new tools and techniques
- Guide and train PhD students in their research
Key experience and competencies
The interested candidate should be keen in pursuing collaborative research, should be a good team player and should convey clearly in their application why they are interested in the lab’s research program.
- PhD in cell biology or developmental biology or in the final stages of PhD submission
- Strong expertise in advanced confocal and/or light sheet imaging and quantitative image analysis
- Excellent molecular biology skills
- Strong interest and experience in using interdisciplinary approaches in their research program
- Excellent written and oral communication skills
- Track record of writing papers as evidenced by publications/preprints in the relevant field
- Track record of using interdisciplinary approaches in their research
- Experience in zebrafish embryological techniques and zebrafish gene editing techniques
- Good understanding of the mechanics of tissue morphogenesis and/or heart development
- Previous experience in using biophysical tools/approaches and optogenetics