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PhD position (M/F): Electromechanical scaffolds for cardiac tissue engineering

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

Date Limite Candidature : vendredi 4 décembre 2020

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General information

Reference : UPR8001-CHRBER-002
Workplace : TOULOUSE
Date of publication : Friday, November 13, 2020
Scientific Responsible name : Christian Bergaud
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 11 January 2021
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Project description

The objective of this project is to produce a platform for growth and maturation of cardiac microtissues for realistic organotypic models in healthy and diseased states. To that end, biomimetic microenvironment that provides all the needed stimuli during the human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) differentiation and maturation to cardiomyocytes (CMs) will be developed. In particular, electromechanoactive polymer-based scaffolds (EMAPS) will be made and combined with bioactive membranes to optimize the differentiation of the hiPSC to adult-like CMs. The scaffolds will then be combined with the 3D printed device and/or bioreactor to enable continuous monitoring of the cardiac function (contractility). EMAPS based platform will be used to simulate healthy and diseased (cardiomyopathy and arrhythmia) cardiac tissues, as well as healthy tissues in adverse environments (under mechanical stress). EMAPS will enable the most realistic heart models that will help advance the understanding of the heart diseases and will significantly improve the development of the treatment methods.

Key responsibilities

Your main task will consist in the development and characterization of electromechanical scaffolds made of ionic electroactive polymers. These scaffolds will provide electrical and mechanical stimulation during the differentiation of cardiomyocytes. Cyclic strains will be generated by expansion and contraction of an electroactive conductive polymer in ionic cell growth media upon cyclic electrical field. The electrochemical performance of the electroactive polymer scaffold with respect to the material properties will be investigated, including fiber core material, the conducting polymer thickness and material formulations. Actuation parameters to be investigated are stress, strain and cycle lifetime. Biocompatibility testing of the electroactive scaffolds will be done before their integration into a functional 3D printed transwell insert with contractility sensors and bioactive scaffolds to study the maturation of CMs.
All the work will be done in a strong interaction and collaboration with the other partners of the project.

Selection criteria

You have a Master degree in Electrochemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Biomaterials, Materials Science or similar with knowledge in mechanical actuation and sensing (soft actuators, artificial muscles). Experience in cell culture and organ-on-a-chip applications will be a plus. Fluent English communication skills, both in speaking and writing, are mandatory.

Work Context

The applicant will be part in the H2020-funded project “EMAPS-Cardio” with a multidisciplinary consortium of academic research institutes (LAAS, CSEM, IMC) and industrial (SME) partners from France, Switzerland, Lithuania, Portugal, Czech Republic, Spain and Germany (OSPIN, BIOFABICS, INOCURE, VERTECH, EURICE, BIOTALENTUM, EURECAT).

The PhD position is at the Laboratory of Analysis and Architecture of Systems (LAAS) in Toulouse, with regular interactions with the other partners. The candidate will be a member of the MEMS team of the MNBT department of LAAS ( https://www.laas.fr/public/en/MEMS).

LAAS is divided into 6 departments covering computer sciences, robotics, automation, microwave and photonics, energy management, and micro-nano-bio-technologies (MNBT). The laboratory is equipped with technical and experimental facilities in particular in the field of microsystems and electron devices, ranging from the development of materials and the micro-fabrication of devices to the characterization of circuits and systems.

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