Dr Mark Morgan and Professor Trish Murray
I am a second year PhD student at the Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool under the supervision of Dr Mark Morgan and Professor Trish Murray. I undertook my undergraduate degree in Liverpool and enrolled in MBiolSci (BSc Biochemistry with Year in Industry) and was always intent on developing my knowledge and research capabilities within the stem cell/cancer field. During my undergraduate dissertation I became fascinated in integrin biology: a receptor-mediated signalling hub regulating cell behaviour. A year in industry at GSK working within the iPSC capability development team provided a way for me into the ever-evolving stem cell field. Now as a part of my PhD, I am able to work closely with both integrins and stem cells. During my PhD, I hope to contribute crucial insights, expanding current knowledge on the effect of integrins in regulating stem cell pluripotency.
Stem cell pluripotency: Impact of bio-inspired substrates on integrin-dependent signalling and force transmission
The purpose of my project is to determine how cell-matrix interactions regulate stem cell pluripotency. I aim to define the integrins and integrin-dependent signalling networks recruited using proteomics analysis: when pluripotent stem cells (induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) engage defined substrates (vitronectin, fibronectin, ZTFN and ZTX) that promote pluripotency and self-renewal. In addition, I aim to determine what effect modulation of substrate stiffness has on specific integrins engaged in the defined substrates and how this regulates stem cell behaviour. Furthermore, I aim to assess the impact of integrin signalling on mechanical force transduction and transmission by analysing the biophysical and signalling properties of integrins recruited by iPSCs and ESCs on vitronectin, fibronectin, ZTFN and ZTX using quantitative traction force microscopy.
I am also a CASE student and will be working closely alongside industrial Partners: Cell Guidance Systems and NovioCell.