Defining the roles of endothelial integrins during mammary gland development, functional differentiation, and involution (ROBINSON_U16HDTP) Defining the roles of endothelial integrins during mammary gland development, functional differentiation, and involution (ROBINSON_U16HDTP)

Primary Supervisor: Dr Stephen Robinson (,

Project Description

Blood vessel formation (angiogenesis) and re-organisation play essential roles in embryonic development and are critical for maintaining healthy physiological processes such as wound healing and the restructuring of the uterine wall during the menstrual cycle. These process works less effectively as we age and mis-regulation of angiogenesis contributes to a multitude of malignant, inflammatory, ischaemic, infectious and immune disorder. Thus increasing our understanding of angiogenesis regulation will allow us to manipulate it to maintain health and repair disease throughout life. 

Our lab is interested in the role of the endothelial fibronectin binding integrins, α5 and β3, because of their up-regulation in angiogenic vasculature.  Recent evidence from us, and others, indicates these two integrins play instrumental roles in the formation of the vasculature of a number of embryonic organs. Using conditional knockout mouse models, this project will explore how their endothelial expression influences mammary gland development and functional differentiation. The mammary gland is one of the few organs to undergo cycles of epithelial/stromal growth & morphogenesis (during pregnancy), differentiation & functional activity (during lactation), and involution (after weaning) in post-natal life. Using endothelial cells isolated from the mammary glands of the same mouse models, the project will also how these two integrins co-operate to regulate endothelial cell behaviour in vitro.

During this project, you will develop expertise in a wide range of cross-disciplinary techniques, including working with knockout mice, manipulating the developing/differentiating mammary gland, endothelial cell isolation, cell imaging, tissue culture, immunohistochemistry, and biochemical assays.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Applicants shortlisted for the Second Round of Selection (deadline for applications 26th February 2016) will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition on either the 16th or 17th March 2016.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

Start date: October 2016
Programme: PhD
Mode of Study: Full Time
Entry Requirements: Acceptable First Degree: Minimum Entry Standard: 2:1

For further information and to apply, please visit our website: