Mechanosensation in human erythrocytes: NMR and microscopy studies


We/you will explore the mechanistic basis of the autonomous movement of the plasma membrane of red blood cells, so called membrane flickering. Also, the molecular processes that underlie the dehydrating effect of centrifugally distorting these cells will be studied. Preliminary studies (published in 2017) have identified the key involvement of the mechanosensitive ion channel PIEZO1 in these phenomena. In these studies you will become an expert in NMR spectroscopy of cellular systems and develop skills in differential interference contrast and fluorescence microscopy. Concepts and methods developed will be applicable to many cell types including cancer cells.


Emeritus Professor Philip Kuchel

Research Location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program Type



Initial experiments will be directed at measuring 133Cs+ and Ca2+ transport into red blood cells with several unique (ingenious) NMR methods. These findings will be correlated with methods that use light microscopy to make measurements of Ca2+ flux using fluorescent dyes. The initial membrane flickering experiments will use advanced light microscopy coupled with digital image capture and mathematical post processing of the video images.

Additional Information

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

Want to find out more?

Contact us to find out what’s involved in applying for a PhD. Domestic students and International students

Contact Research Expert to find out more about participating in this opportunity.

Browse for other opportunities within the School of Life and Environmental Sciences .


NMR spectroscopy of cells, Red blood cells, Membrane flickering, Calcium cycling hypothesis, Cation transport measured by NMR

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2530

Other opportunities with Emeritus Professor Philip Kuchel