PhD Position: Calcium Signaling in Arrhythmias - A Study in Cardiac Slices University of Leuven, Experimental Cardiology Belgium

PHD POSITION: CALCIUM SIGNALING IN ARRHYTHMIAS - A STUDY IN CARDIAC SLICES

 

The lab of Experimental Cardiology, embedded in the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, is recruiting a PhD student to study calcium signaling in cardiac myocytes in relation to arrhythmias and heart failure. The lab has a long-standing expertise in cardiac cellular electrophysiology, Ca2+ homeostasis and remodeling with disease (ischemic cardiomyopathy). Previous research has focused on the identification of different subsets of ryanodine receptor channels (RyRs) and how these are regulated in their microdomains after myocardial infarction (Dries et al., 2018), as well as on the phenotype of myofibroblasts and their interaction with myocytes (Nagaraju et al., 2019). In a next step, the observations in single cardiac myocytes will be studied in the more complex environment in the heart and thereby gain insight in their role in arrhythmia susceptibility. This research line is a collaborative project with the clinical electrophysiology division led by Prof. Rik Willems.

 

Project

In the PhD project,the underlying mechanisms in arrhythmia onset will be investigated in the native environment of myocytes embedded in matrix and interacting with fibroblasts, by using ex vivo organotypic cardiac slices (Watson et al., 2019). Fresh living cardiac slices will be prepared for optical mapping experiments to study Ca2+ releases and membrane potential. The experiments in slices will be complemented with single cell studies, including phenotyping of fibroblasts and of fibroblast-myocytes interactions, using patch-clamping.

The aims for the project are to explore the role of abnormal calcium release in feedback on membrane potential and arrhythmogenesis after myocardial infarction and to investigate the role of cardiac fibroblasts in the onset of arrhythmias using tissue slicesand in vitro culture systems.

External funding supports the position and the research. The lab has extensive facilities for functional confocal imaging, electrophysiology and access to relevant large animal models and human tissue samples. The research group has several postdoctoral and doctoral students. The candidate will acquire skills in multicellular tissue preparations, calcium and voltage optical mapping and imaging techniques, as well as single cell patch-clamp and electrophysiology.The candidate will enroll in the Doctoral School offering further training and complementary skills’ development.

http://gbiomed.kuleuven.be/english/phd/PhD_Researchers/doctoral_school_programmes/cardiovascular_medicine.html

 

Selected references

Dries E, et al. 2018. Hyperactive ryanodine receptors in human heart failure and ischemic cardiomyopathy reside outside of couplons. Cardiovasc Res, 2018;114(11):1512-1524.

Nagaraju CK, et al. 2019. Myofibroblast modulation of cardiac myocyte structure and function. Sci Rep, 2019; 9(1):8879.

Watson SA, Terracciano CM, Perbellini F. 2019. Myocardial Slices: an Intermediate Complexity Platform for Translational Cardiovascular Research. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2019 Apr;33(2):239-244.

 
Profile

- You hold a Master degree or equivalent in Biomedical or Life Sciences. In depth knowledge of relevant areas, in particular of the cardiovascular system and cell physiology is expected.

- You are flexible, able to work independently and have a problem-solving attitude.

- You are highly motivated to work in a multidisciplinary research team, and have excellent communication skills in English.

- You are expected to write a doctoral thesis after 4 years.

Offer

- The Laboratory of Experimental Cardiology offers a fully funded doctoral fellowship in an enthusiastic, multinational research group.

- KU Leuven offers a stimulating environment for international students and support for junior scientists.

Interested?
For more information please contact Mrs. Eef Dries, tel.: +32 16 37 94 54, mail: eef.dries@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. Karin Sipido, tel.: +32 16 33 08 15, mail: karin.sipido@kuleuven.be.

You can apply for this job no later than September 15, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.


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