Available PhD project in mechanics of neocortex development


  • Alice Davy
  • Caroline Badouel
  • Melanie Ane-mirouse


The neocortex is a mammalian-specific region of the brain which is the seat of complex behaviors and cognition. It is composed of different neuronal subtypes and glial cells that are generated from the sequential differentiation of neural stem/progenitor cells. The process of neocortex development is extremely controlled to ensure that each type of neurons is produced at the appropriate time and in appropriate numbers. Indeed, it is now believed that subtle changes in neocortex development could lead to psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia or autism. While a plethora of molecular cues have been shown to control the balance between self-renewal or differentiation of progenitors, the role of mechanical cues in this process remains largely unexplored. Yet, progenitors of the neocortex experience several mechanical stresses: lateral compression due to extremely high cell density, radial stretching due to tissue growth, apical pressure and sheer stress due to the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

The objective of the PhD project is to explore the relationship between Eph:ephrin signaling, mechanical forces, division of progenitors and neurogenesis in the developing neocortex.

The methodological approaches include mouse genetics, live and fixed microscope imaging, laser ablation, tissue micropatterning and data analyses. In addition to the mouse, some of the experiments will be done on human cerebral organoids.

We are looking for a motivated PhD student with interests in neurodevelopmental biology, tissue mechanics and computational image analyses. The candidate is expected to participate in the yearly competition for government funded fellowships at the Ecole Doctorale BSB in July 2020.

To apply send a cover letter and a CV to alice.davy@univ-tlse3.fr

Université Paul Sabatier
118 Route de Narbonne

31062 TOULOUSE Cedex

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