Muscle-on-chip devices for monitoring fibrotic processes in muscular dystrophies

Area of Knowledge: LIFE SCIENCES

Group LeaderS

Juanma Fernández Costa, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) · 
Javier Ramón, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) ·


Muscular dystrophies are a heterogeneous group of severely debilitating diseases characterised by muscle weakness and atrophy. The skeletal muscles of affected patients suffer from a progressive loss of muscle fibres and their replacement by fibrotic tissue. Increased fibrotic tissue in muscles impairs muscle regeneration by limiting the response of injured muscles to treatments. The project proposes an innovative approach to studying muscle fibrosis in vitro. The main objective is to develop a muscle-on-chip platform integrating 3D co-cultures of myoblasts and FAPs, and optical nanoplasmic sensors. 3D muscle co-culture will be engineered using cells from patients with different muscular dystrophies to characterise the differences in the fibrosis process. The optical biosensor devices will allow the rapid, direct, real-time multiplexed monitoring of fibrosis markers related to muscular dystrophy diseases. Once developed, muscle-on-chip and fibrosis biosensors will be integrated into a drug screening platform to develop new treatments for muscular dystrophies.  

The Biosensors for Bioengineering research group at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), led by Prof. Javier Ramon, is focused on combining cutting-edge technologies in search of a better understanding of human physiology in an in vitro context. His multidisciplinary team fuses research in areas such as stem cells, biomaterials, microfluidics, organ-on-chip systems and biosensors to create advanced platforms for disease modeling and drug screening. His expertise extends to exploring the metabolic interaction between different organs and unraveling the pathogenic pathways of specific diseases. 

Job position description

The offered PhD position will focus on research within the field of organs-on-chip for neuromuscular diseases. We are seeking candidates with backgrounds in biomedical engineering, biomedicine, or biotechnology. The ideal candidate should have a strong foundation in biomedical engineering. Furthermore, experience in tissue engineering techniques, microfluidics, and plasmonic biosensors would be highly valuable. 

The selected PhD student will become an integral part of our multidisciplinary team, which includes biologists, chemists, and engineers. Their primary role will involve participating in the design, fabrication, and characterization of organ-on-chip devices that incorporate biosensors for monitoring the fibrotic processes associated with muscular dystrophies. Collaboration is a key aspect of our team, and the candidate will have the opportunity to work closely with their colleagues to achieve research goals.