PhD: Nanoscopy of granule secretion in platelets

The aim of this PhD project is to decipher the unclear role of the platelet’s cytoskeleton in granule secretion.

Project description

Platelets are the smallest cells in our blood. They aggregate at injury sites to stop bleeding. As an important part of their function, platelets secrete prothrombotic and proinflammatory substances in response to external signals. Recent data implied that the exocytosis of granules requires a functional actin cytoskeleton, but essential details remained elusive.

Structural investigations of this process are difficult because of the small size of platelets and the even smaller size of granules. The dedicated super-resolution microscopy expertise in the SchoenLab enables us to investigate the spatial arrangement of specific molecules during this fundamental process with a resolution of better than 20-nm. Moreover, new instrumentation available within the newly established Super-Resolution Imaging Consortium (SRIC) will enable the visualisation of secretion in real-time, as well as the correlation with electron microscopy images.

The successful candidate will learn how to work with human platelets, develop labelling strategies of the secretion machinery, perform super-resolution microscopy of platelet ultrastructure and dynamics, and utilise advanced data analysis and particle averaging strategies to derive structural models of exocytic intermediate states. The final goal is to link specific pharmacological perturbations and malignancies of the platelet cytoskeleton to changes in the assembly of the exocytic machinery.

Tenure: 3-4 years (depending on Fellowship programme)


The successful candidate should have a strong background in bioengineering, biophysics, or a natural sciences degree (at least upper second class honours).

You should also be highly motivated to engage in interdisciplinary work. Previous experience with fluorescence microscopy, programming, or practical lab work are desirable, but not strictly required.

Application process

Please apply with an up-to-date CV, a 500-word statement outlining your interest in and suitability for the position, and contact details of two referees to

Interested candidates who consider to apply for a postgraduate scholarship from the Irish Research Council are very welcome to contact the supervisor directly.

Successful candidates will be able to attend a virtual interview if they wish.

Important dates

  • Applications will open on 1 August 2020.
  • Closing date for applications is 21 September 2020.
  • Shortlisting will take place on 22 September 2020.
  • Interviews take place from 23-30 September 2020.
  • The position will begin in October 2021.