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Investigating cell division and contractility in animal cells

Cytokinesis, the division of one cell into two, is a cellular process critical to life. It is also an extreme example of dynamic and robust cellular shape change. Division failure and the resulting chromosome damage is a driver of oncogenesis, while also being targeted by many chemotherapeutics.

Similarities in the structural and molecular organization of the division apparatus give the impression that there is a standard mechanism underlying division, including formation and constriction of an actomyosin contractile ring, which does not vary between cells of different identities and fates. However, recent studies indicate the situation is more complex, with some proteins that have previously been thought of as essential not being required in all cases. 

The Davies lab is interested in investigating examples where cytokinesis can vary from this standard mechanism, to more fully understand the complexity of cell division. Our key experimental approaches include mammalian and invertebrate (C. elegans) cell models, live-imaging microscopy, genetic tools and small molecule inhibitors.

There are a range of projects available investigating 1) myosin-independent contractility during division 2) the role of intrinsic factors and signaling in C. elegans division, 3) Src kinase in mammalian cell division 4) developing novel tools to modify actomyosin contractility. The actual project will be decided after discussion between the student and Tim Davies, to ensure alignment with both the student’s and lab’s interests. 


Specific of training will depend on the project but will likely include cell biology and molecular biology techniques, as well as C. elegans/mammalian cell culture, genetics/transgenics and fluorescence microscopy. Training will also include will include writing/using ImageJ plugins and/or macros and the use of statistical software. 


We are looking for enthusiastic students who have a strong interest in cell biology, and want to develop their project and move it forward.

Further information: 

Informal enquiries are strongly encouraged to discuss project specifics, application process and timeline.  Dr Tim Davies:

There is no formal deadline, but review of application for the October 2023 entry will begin at the end of June 2023.