BioBrillouin

Topic: Investigating the mechanical properties of oesophageal cancer tissue using novel Brillouin imaging, University of Exeter, UK

Position type: PhD studentship

Institution / Department / Laboratory: Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, UK; Palombo lab

Description: Oesophageal cancer is the eight most common cancer worldwide and one with dismal prognosis – when detected at a late stage, the chance of survival is only one in two. Hence, there is a critical
need to detect early changes in the lining of the oesophagus (epithelium) to inform intervention / treatment and increase the survival rate.

We hypothesise that a novel approach based on detecting micromechanical changes within epithelial tissue in Barrett’s oesophagus may provide the contrast and hence have diagnostic potential for oesophageal cancer. Brillouin imaging is a new biophotonic technique for non-invasive contact-free analysis of biomedical samples at optical resolution. The obtained micromechanical information is indicative of structure, function, and any alteration e.g. due to disease, providing diagnostic capability to this method. We have previously demonstrated that confocal Brillouin microscopy combined with Raman scattering provides mechanical properties of matter with molecular specificity, hence opening the way to a new multimodal method (Scarponi et al. Phys. Rev. X 2017, 7: 031015). When applied to ex vivo histological sections of epithelial tissue in Barrett’s oesophagus, this method gives stiffness maps showing inhomogeneities between areas of higher rigidity (epithelial cells) and lower rigidity (extracellular matrix; Palombo et al. Analyst 2014; 139: 729). We intend to pursue further this study to include fresh tissue biopsies from adenocarcinoma, Barrett’s and normal tissue groups.

Required/Desired Qualifications: This PhD studentship is ideally suited for candidates with a Master Physics (Biophysics) or Master Sciences (Natural Sciences or Chemistry or Biosciences) with a background in vibrational spectroscopy and imaging, optics and microscopy. The student is expected to conduct research in our BioSpec labs and to report and present their results, including draft papers for publications. Experience with the use of software packages such as Matlab, Python or LabView would be beneficial. The student may be required to travel to our collaborators at Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals for sample collection and to attend meetings between centres. Our PhD students do normally attend one or two national/international conferences per year to present their results. Funding from current projects within the research team is available to cover expenses related to these activities.

Contact: For further information please send an email to: F.Palombo@exeter.ac.uk

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Topic: Joint positions available in the Prevedel/Diz-Muñoz groups at the EMBL Heidelberg, Germany

Position type: Any

Institution / Department / Laboratory: European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Heidelberg, Germany, Prevedel & Diz-Muñoz labs

Description: The Prevedel and Diz-Muñoz groups are offering a position in the area of Brillouin microscopy and cell biology. The position is open to candidates at all levels and will be situated at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, situated in Heidelberg, Germany (www.embl.de).

We aim to establish Brillouin microscopy as a new, non-invasive imaging tool in the life sciences in order to measure mechanical properties of living cells with high-resolution and in a non-contact fashion. We are further interested in correlating the measured Brillouin signal to other, more widely known elasticity moduli, and on the technical side aim to improve the temporal resolution, signal-to-noise and imaging depths of our Brillouin microscope. Our applications range from isolated cells to more complex multi-cellular organisms with internal structure, such as the zebrafish embryos.

Required/Desired Qualifications: The candidate should ideally have previous expertise in developing advanced optics, imaging/spectroscopy or light microscopy, including programming, and should be able to work in an interdisciplinary environment. A keen interest in biological applications of Brillouin microscopy as well as experience in wet lab techniques would be an advantage.

Contact: For further information please send an email to: prevedel@embl.de or diz@embl.de

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Topic: Establishment of a Brillouin microscopy setup at Heidelberg University for the comparison of different elastic moduli determined in a specific set of biological samples

Position type: Master student

Description: The group of Thomas Greb (University of Heidelberg) is looking for a talented Master student in physics or engineering who is interested in the establishment/implementation of Brillouin Microscopy for studying extracellular matrices of cells. Brillouin microscopy has recently been introduced into biological sciences as a contact-free imaging technique for determining mechanical properties of living sub-cellular structures.

Embedded in the international research consortium ‘BioBrillouin’, the student will focus on the establishment of a Brillouin microscopy setup at Heidelberg University for the comparison of different elastic moduli determined in a specific set of biological samples. During the project, the student will have the possibility to visit other labs within the consortium and get exposed to distinct expertise around this emerging technology. Especially, the labs of Kareem Elsayad (VBC, Vienna) and Robert Prevedel (EMBL, Heidelberg) will provide teaching and hands-on experience on the technology.

Successful applicants will have outstanding communication skills, and be capable of working independently in a goal-oriented manner. Experience in working with open optical setups and programming in Lab Matlab is a plus. Candidates should send their personal details including a motivation letter and a CV to thomas.greb@cos.uni-heidelberg.de. Reviewing of applications will be continued until a suitable candidate is found.

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Topic: Development of a spectrometer for quantitative imaging of live cancer tissues with Brillouin light scattering

Position Type: Postdoctoral Scientist

Institution / Department / Laboratory: Institut Lumière Matière Lyon, FR

Description: Micro-Brillouin spectroscopy allows characterizing the viscoelastic properties by measuring the hypersonic waves propagating within the tissue. This non-invasive optical method has been recently used to study osmotic shocks in single cells, or to map mouse cornea.1,2 These results have been obtained using a new type of spectrometer called virtual image phased array (VIPA), allowing the acquisition of a single spectrum in a few seconds.

With our team in Lyon, we have performed studies using a Fabry-Pérot Tandem spectrometer, enabling a very high spectral resolution that provides essential information on the viscoelasticity of the tissue or cell. We have in particular demonstrated that such measurements can reveal the in-depth efficacy of a clinical therapy on live tumours. However, this spectral quality is obtained at the expense of the acquisition time (> 100sec per spectrum), thus limiting the production of large images, which are essential for the statistical analysis of biological samples.
The objective of this postdoc will be to design, build and characterize a VIPA spectrometer that will complement the existing Fabry-Pérot spectrometer.

The postdoc will have to carry out the optical assembly and implement the acquisition on biological tissues models. This work will be supported by the expertise in photonics and biophysics of the host teams. Finally, she/he will couple the two spectrometers on the same microscope in order to compare their respective potentials (spectral resolution, rapidity, etc.) on real biological systems (tumour models and xenografts) designed in the laboratory by our collaborators.

The candidate will also support the other projects of the team on optoacoustics, and supervise the PhD students involved. These approaches use pulsed lasers to generate ultrasound in the same biologicals used for Brillouin imaging and are thus complementary.
The postdoc will work at ILM in the Biophysics and SOPRANO teams. She/he will be supervised by Thomas Dehoux and Jérémie Margueritat. The biomedical part (sample preparation and data interpretation) will be developed in collaboration with Hichem Mertani from the team Nuclear Domains and Pathologies at the Cancer research Center of Lyon.

The position is initially available for 12 months (extendable to 24 months) and funded by ANR POROTUME (€2300 per month net salary).

Required/Desired Qualifications: The candidate will have a PhD in Physics/Engineering with an emphasis on the development of optical instruments. We expect academic achievement in terms of publication in this domain. Skills in spectroscopy, optoacoustics or microscopy will be greatly appreciated. Also, experience at the interface between physics and biology will be an advantage.

Contact: Candidates should send their personal details including a motivation letter and a CV to thomas.dehoux@univ-lyon1.fr.