ESR 11: Role of innervation on prevascularisation and regeneration in bioengineered human skin – Switzerland

This vacancy is closed

Host institution: University of Zurich (UZH), Switzerland


  • Main supervisor: Dr. Thomas Biedermann (UZH, Tissue Biology Research Unit))
  • Co-supervisor: Dr. Agnes Klar (UZH, Tissue Biology Research Unit)

Enrolment PhD training program: UZH

Planned secondments:

Brief description:

The skin is a highly sensitive organ, perceiving temperature, touch and pain as it is densely innervated by (un-)myelinated nerve types and free nerve endings. After deep skin injury, cutaneous nerve regeneration occurs by sprouting of nerve fibres from the adjacent uninjured area, but it is often compromised. Importantly, the phenomenon of crosstalk between blood vessels and nerves (neurovascular link) was observed in wound healing processes. Thus, the main objective is to study the interaction between a newly formed vascular plexus and nerve cells.

The project is divided into three specific objectives:

  • Studying the interaction between newly formed vascular plexus and nerve cells. Human prevascularised skin substitutes containing nerve cells will be bioengineered to investigate the neurovascular link influence on the vascular plexus development in vitro and in vivo on athymic rats by using whole mount staining and confocal microscopy.
  • Investigating the effect of skin appendages on vascular plexus and neuronal guiding. Hair proto-follicles will be incorporated into skin grafts to study their instructive potential for vascular plexus formation and nerve fibre regeneration both in vitro and in vivo employing e.g. light sheet fluorescence microscopy.
  • Studying the effect of dermal scaffolds onto vascular plexus and nerve regeneration. Prevascularised skin substitutes including nerve cells will be prepared using various scaffolds to investigate the role of extracellular matrix components on nerve cell guiding and vascularisation both in vitro and in vivo. Neurometer measurements will be performed to analyse which ECM components facilitate the sensory nerve conduction threshold in vivo.

Project specific requirements:

  • MSc in Life Science/Biology/Biomedical sciences/(Bio-)chemistry/or similar
  • Expertise in the following areas is highly recommendable: cell culture (primary cells/cell lines), immunofluorescence assays, (immune)histology, (confocal) microscopy, and animal research
  • Permission to work with animals is a benefit
  • Note that this ESR position requires additional application for the Life Science Zurich Graduate School of UZH: