Cardiff University President's Research Scholarship: Label-free multiphoton microscopy of lipids in oocytes, eggs and early embryos (PhD Studentship)
Reference Number: R733
Key Studentship Information
This is a Cardiff University President's Research Scholarship, part of a new £4M investment to coincide with the inauguration of Professor Sir Martin Evans (Nobel Prize for Medicine 2007) as Cardiff’s new President. All of the University Schools and Research Centres offering opportunities under the programme have demonstrated the real potential of the Scholarships to contribute to research excellence through significant, challenging and original PhD research projects and excellent PhD supervision and support. Other attractive features of the Scholarships include the presence of multiple President’s Scholars in each of the research areas and the guaranteed exposure of President’s Scholars to innovative technologies, theories, methodological approaches, and debates. More information on the President's Research Scholarships scheme is available here: www.cardiff.ac.uk/presidents
Project Title: Label-free multiphoton microscopy of lipids in oocytes, eggs and early embryos
Efficient metabolism is essential for early development of mammalian oocytes and embryos. The metabolic rate of an early embryo is also a key indicator of viability. Whilst most studies of metabolism in oocytes and embryos have looked at exogenous substrates (e.g. glucose) it is clear that endogenous lipid metabolism is also significant . In particular studies in mice and pigs have shown that the metabolism of lipids (beta-oxidation) is one of the critical cytoplasmic events occurring during oocyte maturation, and that it affects the success of pre-implantation development [1,2]. Pig oocytes are most often used for such studies since they contain very large lipid droplets . Mouse oocytes are a better model for human oocytes since both contain much smaller lipid droplets. However, the lipids droplets in mouse oocytes are poorly characterized. In addition, no continuous imaging studies of lipid droplets in oocytes have been made because fluorescent lipid labels are poorly retained in organelles and sustained fluorescent excitation light impairs development.
Coherent Antistokes Raman Scattering (CARS) microscopy has recently emerged as a new multiphoton microscopy technique which overcomes the need of fluorescent labelling and yet retains biomolecular specificity. This technique has proven to be very successful in imaging lipid droplets . In our Biophotonics group we have built a CARS microscope equipped with a heated stage and environmental control to enable long term imaging of mammalian cells.
This project will exploit CARS microscopy to visualise unstained lipid droplets in mouse oocytes and pre-implantation embryos. This will be done with living oocytes undergoing maturation or fertilization, as well as with early embryos. Lipid droplets will be studied alongside other important features of oocytes such as chromosomal configuration, redox state or intracellular calcium levels. Pig oocytes will be used for comparison since they contain the largest lipid droplets for an oocyte. We shall also investigate the metabolism in mouse oocytes and early embryos using deuterium labelled lipids . The work promises to establish new methods for non-invasive assessment of oocyte or embryo quality which could be used in clinical IVF or animal reproductive technologies.
 Sturney RG et al (2009) Role of fatty acids in energy provision during oocyte maturation and early embryo development. Reprod. Dom Anim 44, (Suppl 1) 50-58
 Dunning K.R., et al. (2010) Beta-oxidation is essential for mouse oocyte developmental competence and early embryo development. Biology of Reproduction 83, 909-918
 Israel Rocha-Mendoza, et al, “Differential coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy with linearly chirped femtosecond laser pulses” Optics Letters 34, 2258 (2009).
 Xie XS, et al. (2006). Living cells as test tubes. Science 312, 228–230.
Primary Supervisor: Dr Paola Borri (BorriP@cf.ac.uk),
Secondary Supervisors: Dr Karl Swann (SwannK1@cf.ac.uk) (School of Physics); Prof Wolfgang Langbein (LangbeinWW@cf.ac.uk) (School of Physics)
Start Date: 1 October 2012
The studentship is fully-funded for 3 years, i.e. includes the payment of tuition fees at the Home/EU rate and a tax free maintenance stipend. Non-EU applicants are welcomed but successful applicants would have to self-fund the difference between the Home/EU and International Fee.
Number of Awards Available: 1
Academic Criteria: Applicants must have a First Class Honours degree or a 2.1 plus a postgraduate Masters degree (or their equivalents) in a relevant subject
Residency: Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to all UK/EU nationals.
How to Apply
To fill an application form and for further information see: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/presidents/bioimaging/index.html
1. Select your school (Biosciences), Programme Name (PhD) and start date.
2. In the Research Proposal section, applicants should state the subject as 'Bioimaging,' indicating the title of the project.
3. In the 'Funding' section, at the item: ‘I will be applying for a scholarship/grant’ applicants should state that they are applying for the President's Research Scholarship in Bioimaging.
Application Deadline: 31 January 2012
For further details on project, please contact the supervisor:
Prof Paola Borri
Email: BorriP@cardiff.ac.uk, Telephone: +44 (0)29 208 79356
For administrative/application queries, please contact:
Mrs Swapna Khandavalli
Email: KhandavalliS@cardiff.ac.uk, Telephone: +44 (0)29208 75243
Read more about the Bioimaging President's Scholarships: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/presidents/bioimaging/index.html
Name: Dr Paola Borri
Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 9356