PhD Scholarship Position in Computer Simulation of Biophysics of Phospholipid Membranes

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PhD Scholarship Position in Computer Simulation of Biophysics of Phospholipid Membranes

The aim of this project is to model the interactions of lipid membranes with nano-objects including functional biomimetic polymers, peptides, polymeric micelles and polymer therapeutic complexes/conjugates in order to enable the intelligent design of new materials with improved bilayer modifying properties. This study may provide the molecular basis for the cytotoxicity of nano-objects and indicate the ways to reduce it. The Single Chain Mean Field theory can test the inferred mechanisms for the interaction of nano-objects with phospholipid bilayers allowing to distinguish between different possible pathways to penetrate the living cells.

Background and State of the Art:

Membrane bilayers are readily formed by self-organization of lipid molecules. Membrane lipids can form different structures such as micelles, liposomes or vesicles. Fluid membranes display a surface tension and bending stiffness which depends on the order and mobility of the lipids. Their properties can be addressed using concepts of statistical physics and computer simulations and, in particular, principles of polymer and soft matter physics. There are several nano-objects that can preferentially interact with the membranes or easily penetrate the living cells, although the exact mechanism of interactions with membranes remains an open question.

Project Contribution and Methodology:

Our theoretical method, the Single Chain Mean Field Theory, see Official Website. can describe phospholipid membranes and their interactions with different nano-objects at the molecular level. This method allows to examine the interaction of block copolymers with membranes in order to get insight into physical mechanisms of the possibility for nano-objects of different architectures to disrupt the membranes, form different aggregates and structures.

Ideal candidate: Ideal candidate will have MSc in theoretical physics with strong background in computer simulations, computational soft matter physics and numerical methods.

Place:

The work will be done partially in Universitat Rovira I Virgili, Tarragona, Spain and Chemical Engineering Department, Cambridge University, Cambridge, UK

References:

S. Pogodin, V.A. Baulin, Coarse-Grained Models of Phospholipid Membranes within the Single Chain Mean Field Theory, Soft Matter 6, 2216–2226 (2010).

S. Pogodin and V.A. Baulin, Can a carbon nanotube pierce through a phospholipid bilayer? ACS Nano, 4 (9), pp 5293–5300 (2010) S. Pogodin, N.K.H. Slater and V.A. Baulin, Surface Patterning of Carbon Nanotubes Can Enhance Their Penetration through a Phospholipid Bilayer, ACS Nano, ASAP (2011)

Main contact:

Official Website .

Dr. Vladimir Baulin vladimir.baulin@urv.cat ICREA researcher Barcelona and Universitat Rovira i Virgili Av. dels Països Catalans,

26 Tarragona 43007 (Spain)

Application Deadline : 31 March 2011

Visit Official Website .

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