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PhD position in the mechanics of neuronal development


A 3-year funded PhD position is available at the Institut de Biologie Paris Seine to investigate the role of mechanical forces in the construction of a neuronal circuit in vivo.

During neuronal circuit formation, neurons move towards their final location while growing axons towards their target. While the biochemical guidance cues involved in neuronal migration and axon elongation are extensively studied, the contribution of mechanical forces in these processes remains largely unexplored in vivo

In the lab we address this question using the zebrafish olfactory circuit as a model system. Its location underneath the skin of the embryo makes it amenable to live imaging and mechanical perturbation. We already obtained imaging and functional data suggesting an important function for mechanical cues in the formation of the circuit: olfactory axons extend through the effect of extrinsic mechanical forces that drive the passive displacement of neuronal cell bodies away from their axon tips (Breau et al., Nat Comm, in press).  

The purpose of the PhD project is to further identify the origin and contribution of mechanical forces in the construction of the circuit, and the molecular mechanisms involved in force propagation and sensing. To achieve this goal, the student will use a pluridisciplinary strategy combining multiscale live imaging, genetic/optogenetic tools and physical approaches to measure and perturb forces in vivo. 

We are looking for a highly motivated student willing to join an interdisciplinary environment involving strong interactions between biologists and physicists.



- Master degree in cell/developmental biology or in biophysics 

- Strong interest towards interdisciplinary work


Additional beneficial skills:

- Experience with zebrafish 

- Skills in confocal, biphoton or light sheet microscopy

- Experience in image analysis (Image J, Matlab)


Starting date: between October 2017 and January 2018. To apply, please send your CV and references to Marie Breau, Institut de Biologie Paris Seine:

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