Microfluidic flow of biomimetic tissues

The University of Montpellier offers three PhD grants to carry on a PhD in Physics in the Laboratory of Charles Coulomb (L2C), starting on October 2018 and for a duration of three years.

Project description: 
During embryogenesis, tissues and organs develop through cell differentiation and reorganization. Individual and collective motion of cells leads to a flow tissue, which can be observed during embryo development.
Mechanical factors, such as the intercellular adhesion or interactions of cells with their environment are key elements governing this process. Even though a large amount of studies based on animal models have enabled
to make great progress on the comprehension of development, they do not offer the possibility to easily decouple the role of different mechanisms. The goal of this project is to develop a simplified model tissue
(but which still preserves some of the essential features of physiological tissues) with the aim of identifying the key physical mechanisms regulating the flow of tissues, and in particular of understanding the role of cell-cell adhesion.
PhD objectives:
The PhD student will first work on the design of the artificial tissue by the controlled assembly of unilamelar giant vesicles (GUV), which represent a good biomimetic model for the study of the mechanical properties of cells.
GUV can be fabricated using a microencapsulation technique based on the continuous passage of droplets through an interface (cDICE) developed recently in our laboratory, which allows us to obtain monodisperse vesicles at high throughput.
Next, he/she will focus on the realization of flow experiments of the developed tissues in microfluidic chips of different geometries, which mimic the physiological flows of living tissues. Image velocimetry methods will be used to analyze
the spatio-temporal dynamics of the flow, which will enable to validate the theoretical constitutive equation describing the flow behavior of artificial tissues. Eventually, this study will contribute to get a full comprehension of the role
of intercellular adhesion on the flow of living tissues, which is a crucial biophysical mechanism in embryogenesis.
PhD Candidate:
We are looking for a highly motivated candidate to join our team, willing to carry on experimental research in a multi-disciplinary framework.
Candidates should hold a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Physics, Biophysics or Physical Chemistry.
Previous knowledge on microfluidics, microscopy, and/or image analysis will be appreciated. An intermediate English level is required.