MSc/PhD in single-cell systems biology

Laval University
Quebec, QC, Canada
Job Type:
  • Graduate Position
Degree Level Required:
Bachelor's, Masters
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MSc/PhD in single-cell systems biology

Project description:

Most organisms living on our planet have internal circadian clocks that allow them to anticipate variations in their environment. In mammals, the majority of cells have transcriptional clocks that allow them to stay in tune with the environment through systemic signals such as hormones, food cycles and temperature. At the molecular level, the circadian clock is encoded by transcription-translation feedback loops of a dozen essential genes, producing oscillations lasting nearly 24 hours. Numerous studies have demonstrated the importance of these circadian oscillations for multiple physiological processes, including sleep cycles, hormone secretion and body temperature.

In parallel, the cell cycle is another important cellular process sharing similarities with the circadian clock. Indeed, in many cells, the cell cycle also lasts 24 hours and the cycle itself can be seen as a recurring oscillatory process, passing from one phase to another and repeating with each cell division.

This research project is the follow-up of a series of high-impact publications made by our group where we have demonstrated a strong interaction between the cell cycle and the circadian clock. We have, for the first time, shown that this interaction is conserved from mice to humans and that it is mainly driven by the action of the cell cycle on the circadian clock. Our results suggest a mode of interaction between the cell cycle and the circadian clock, but we do not exactly know the underlying mechanisms or the physiological role of this interaction.

The aim of this PhD project is to use systems biology and chronobiology approaches in combination with genomics and bioinformatics approaches to answer these questions. The diverse environment offered as part of this PhD, along with the various innovative approaches taken to answer our questions, provide the ideal environment to train a future generation of students with the skills to answer the most important questions.

Publications from the lab that led to this project :

Low-dimensional dynamics of two coupled biological oscillators, Nature Physics, 2019 Lien :

Single Live Cell Monitoring of Protein Turnover Reveals Intercellular Variability and Cell-Cycle Dependence of Degradation Rates, Molecular cell, 2019 Lien :

Engineered signaling centers for the spatially controlled patterning of human pluripotent stem cells, Nature Methods, 2019 Lien :

Fields associated to the research:

• Chronobiology • Single-cell systems biology • Genomic • Bioinformatics • Mathematical modeling • Live-cell fluorescent imaging


• The student will set up a system using fluorescence and real-time microscopy to follow the joint evolution of the circadian clock and the cell cycle in individual cells. • The student will use this system to determine the molecular link between the two cycles. • The student will use this systems biology approaches and genomic to investigate the importance of interaction during wound healing. • The student will use genomics and smFISH approaches to study the evolution of the circadian transcriptional program during the cell cycle.


• Hold a MSc degree in cellular and molecular biology, molecular medicine, genetics / genomics, biochemistry, biotechnology, bioinformatics, computational biology, microbiology, pharmacy or any other related discipline. • Have a good academic record. • Master the basic techniques in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology (cell culture, cloning, PCR, sequencing, western blot, etc.). • Important qualities: autonomy, motivation, dynamism, rigor and work ethic. • Have the ability to work in a team. • Have oral and written communication skills. • Functional in english. Note that we usually speak French in Quebec • Demonstrated experience in fluorescence microscopy an asset. • Experience in image analysis with ImageJ / Fiji / CellProfiler / Matlab an asset. • Aptitude in data analysis or bioinformatics (python or R) an asset.

  • How to Apply

    To apply for this position, please email your 1) your CV, 2) a letter of motivation and 3) your transrcipt.

Additional Information

Info about the lab :

The lab is interested in understanding how individual cells behave in realtime. We like to use cutting edge approaches in live-cell imaging, genomics and bioinformatics to answer important questions in chronobiology, molecular and cellular biology.

More info :