Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences
PhD studentship in skeletal muscle stem cell biology (4 years)
Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences
​​​​​​​The Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences does fundamental research for the understanding of health and disease and for developing science-based targeted nutritional solutions for the maintenance of health.
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Published: 20 days ago
Application deadline: Nov 01
Location: Lausanne, Switzerland
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PhD studentship in skeletal muscle stem cell biology (4 years)

The Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS) is a world class biomedical research institute located on the EPFL campus. NIHS aims to better understand health and disease as influenced by genetics, metabolism and environment with the goal of translating this knowledge into personalized science based nutrition. The Institute combines latest technologies and biomedical knowledge to study the molecular mechanisms of chronic diseases. Large-scale omics capabilities including genomics, proteomics, lipidomics, metabolomics and nutritional phenotyping are integrated with bioinformatics and systems biology to generate holistic molecular insights into nutritionally actionable conditions. In this context, we are offering the following PhD project housed experimentally at NIHS and academically at EPFL:

PhD studentship in skeletal muscle stem cell biology (4 years)

Deciphering the heterogeneity of skeletal muscle stem cell fate and metabolism during regeneration and aging

Skeletal muscle is a highly plastic tissue in health and disease where the ability to regenerate is conferred by muscle resident stem cells (MuSCs) also called satellite cells. MuSC function declines in various pathological settings such as dystrophies or aging and leads to altered regeneration for which therapeutic interventions are starting to emerge. MuSCs represent a heterogenous population and converging evidence suggest that sub-populations of MuSC differentially influence stemness vs repair by regulating self-renewal and myogenic commitment. However, the markers and a fortiori the mechanisms that coordinate this functional heterogeneity of MuSCs in health and disease remains largely unknown.

This project aims at discovering novel subpopulations of MuSCs using single cell transcriptomics and novel in vivo models that track stemness and commitment of MuSCs. The student will identify new markers allowing to isolate muscle stem cells, and will characterize the molecular and cellular fate of the newly identified populations in vitro and in vivo. The functional role of these subpopulations will also be investigated in the context of aging to derive therapeutic interventions on their metabolic and signaling pathways, with the long-term goal to prevent muscle wasting and restore the regenerative capacity of aged skeletal muscle.

Key responsibilities

  • Lead the experimental activities of the project
  • Integrate the literature in the field
  • Analyze, interpret and present results
  • Interface with team members and coordinate with other projects in the lab
  • Present results at scientific conferences and publish in high impact journals

Required profile

  • Master Degree in biology or equivalent
  • Training and laboratory experience in molecular/cellular biology and/or stem cell biology
  • Experience with primary cell cultures, flow cytometry, and in-vivo experimentation will be considered a plus
  • Enthusiasm, curiosity and a pro-active attitude are essential

We offer a truly international and innovative working environment and foster an academic research atmosphere where the candidate will interact with other PhD students and post-docs. Applicants should apply on AND through the EPFL Biotechnologies & Bioengineering program ( before November 01, 2017.

Host labs:

The project will be primarily based at the NIHS (Muscle Aging Group) and will involve direct collaboration with the Laboratory of Systems Biology and Genetics at EPFL. The project will be co-supervised by Jerome Feige (NIHS/EPFL) and Bart Deplancke (EPFL).

Recent publications from the host labs:

Lukjanenko L, Jung MJ, Hegde N, ..., Rudnicki MA, Fan CM, von Maltzahn J, Bentzinger CF*, Feige JN*. Loss of fibronectin from the aged stem cell niche affects the regenerative capacity of skeletal muscle in mice. Nature Medicine (2016) 22(8):897-905.

Pannérec A, Springer M, Migliavacca E, ..., McPhee JS, Feige JN. A robust neuromuscular system protects rat and human skeletal muscle from sarcopenia. Aging (2016) 8(4):712-29.

Pradhan RN, Bues JJ, Gardeux V, …, Russeil J, Raghav SK, Deplancke B. Dissecting the brown adipogenic regulatory network using integrative genomics. Sci Rep. (2017) 7:42130.

Isakova A, Groux R, Imbeault M, …, Trono D, Bucher P, Deplancke B. SMiLE-seq identifies binding motifs of single and dimeric transcription factors. Nature Methods (2017) 14(3):316-322.

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