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10 February 2023

Physics alumnus wins King's Outstanding Thesis Prize for ground-breaking collagen research

Dr Emilie Gachon received the award for her research which further understanding of conditions such as heart attacks and diabetes.

Emilie Gachon
Dr Emilie Gachon

Dr Emilie Gachon, a former PhD student from the Department of Physics at King's College London, was awarded a 2022 King's Outstanding Thesis Prize. Her PhD thesis examined the physics of collagen and could further our understanding of conditions affected by malfunctions in collagen fibrils, such as heart attacks and diabetes.

Collagen is one of the most important proteins in the human body—and is found in our skin, tendons, bones, and cartilage. It plays a key role in blood clotting and the natural healing of our body. Collagen fibrils (fibres) are so small that they can only be studied using sophisticated techniques like Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM).

In certain diseases, such as diabetes, collagen fibrils undergo unwanted, mechanical and chemical changes, which can lead to heart attacks, poor wound healing, and other debilitating effects for patients.

By using these advanced techniques such as SPM to study the nano-mechanics and electro-mechanical properties of collagen fibrils, Dr Gachon found that collagen fibrils change under different conditions. Her research could help deepen our understanding of the physics of collagen and could provide clues on how to treat these diseases.

Dr Gachon, who was part of the Biophysics & Soft Materials (BPSM) Group in Physics, was funded by the Leverhulme Trust to undertake this PhD research.

The King’s Outstanding Thesis Award celebrates outstanding research completed by King's doctoral students. Every year, the prize is awarded to twenty PhD candidates across all faculties.

“I am delighted and honoured to receive such a prestigious award from King’s. It is a satisfying recognition of my work. I immensely enjoyed my time in the Department of Physics at King’s, and I am very happy that I could contribute to tackling some of the most pressing health challenges in our society.”

Dr Gachon

Dr Gachon now works as a postdoctoral researcher at the CEA Cadarache one of the leading research scientific centres in France, where she studies bacterial motion. 

For further information about Emilie’s research please contact Dr Patrick Mesquida, Department of Physics,

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Dr Patrick Mesquida

Senior Lecturer