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Development of 3D models to study cardiac ageing in space

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After two decades of human presence in orbit around Earth on the International Space Station (ISS), human colonization of the Moon and Mars is currently the next challenge to address in deep space exploration. Indeed, without the protection of our atmosphere and our magnetosphere, health risks from prolonged exposure to space radiation and to microgravity could seriously jeopardize future space exploration missions. Space radiation is even regarded as the number ONE showstopper for long space exploration missions.

Cardiovascular dysfunction and in particular accelerated cardiac ageing is one of the concerns observed after the Apollo programme that needs to be resolved. The European Space Agency (ESA) is currently implementing the capability to perform research of 3D cell culture models on the ISS, which better mimic human body complexity. Consequently, to ensure better acclimatization and safety of astronauts on future enduring missions, this PhD envisions the development of different 3D heart models derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSc) (spheroids, organoids, 3D bioprinted and heart-on-chip) and their characterization in respect to cardiac ageing after exposure to the space environment (simulated microgravity and ionizing radiation). As on Earth cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide, the development and characterization of 3D heart models to study cardiac ageing in space has also the potential to be directly translated into the medical field.

The minimum diploma level of the candidate needs to be

  • Master of industrial sciences
  • Master of sciences in engineering
  • Master of sciences

The candidate needs to have a background in

  • Bio-engineering
  • Biology

Estimated duration

4 years

Expert group

Radiobiology

SCK CEN Mentor

Tabury Kevin
ktabury [at] sckcen.be
+32 (0)14 33 28 16

SCK CEN Co-mentor

Baselet Bjorn
bbaselet [at] sckcen.be
+32 (0)14 33 21 42

Promotor

Moroni Lorenzo
l.moroni [at] maastrichtuniversity.nl