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Computational Fluid Dynamics Evaluation of Mixing Zones in Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation Circuits to Prevent Brain Injury

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The Critical Care Research Group (CCRG), based at the The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH) in Brisbane, Australia, is seeking highly motivated, skilled and committed PhD candidates to join our multidisciplinary and international research team to commence a PhD project.

The project will be primarily based within the Innovative Cardiovascular Engineering and Technology Laboratory (ICETLAB); the biomedical engineering arm of the CCRG at The Prince Charles Hospital.

BACKGROUND
Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a life-saving treatment used to provide temporary cardiopulmonary support. It can be used in a veno-venous (VV) configuration for respiratory failure, providing time for lung recovery or in a veno-arterial (VA) configuration, where support is necessary for patients whose hearts are not adequately supporting their circulation. In patients suffering from differential hypoxia, heart function recovers however pulmonary function is still weak and thus the heart will pump out more or less deoxygenated blood. Depending on the mixing zones of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood, this may cause brain injury due to hypoxic blood supplying the brain.

AIM
The present research project aims to utilise computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling to assess mixing zones in ECMO circuits and their effect on brain injury. Especially the effect of introducing pulsatility to the ECMO circuits and the subsequent effect on mixing zones will be investigated.

SPECIFIC TASKS
- Development of a suitable CFD model of a pulsatile ECMO circuit.
- CFD model validation through particle image velocimetry (PIV) and ex-vivo ECMO circuits.
- Evaluation of the effect of pulsatility on mixing zones and subsequent brain injury potential.
- Validation of finding in large animal models.

SIGNIFICANCE
The present research project will result in an improved understanding of differential hypoxia and effect of mixing zones on brain injury. Furthermore, this research will support projects towards improving ECMO technology for improved patient outcomes.

RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT
The CCRG is the largest acute care multi-disciplinary research group of its kind in Australia. It is a collaborative group of multi-disciplinary researchers committed to finding world-first innovative solutions that will lead to healthier living, improved quality of life, fewer hospitalisations and more efficient clinical treatment. Our team of researchers includes physicians, surgeons, intensivists, nurses, scientists and engineers, as well as an array of university Honours, Masters and PhD candidates.

The PhD candidate will be based in the ICETLAB, which is located within TPCH (Australia’s largest cardiac hospital) and only a two minute walk to the operating theatres and intensive care units where clinical and patient feedback can be obtained, and only a five minute walk from Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT’s) Medical Engineering and Research Facility (MERF). ICETLAB research projects centre on cardiovascular engineering, with the primary aim of improving outcomes for heart and lung failure patients receiving mechanical circulatory and respiratory support.

The ICETLAB was founded in 2007 and has since produced over 50 peer-reviewed publications and been awarded over 7 million AUD of competitive grant funding. The ICETLAB has grown continuously and now houses approximately 15 full- or part-time researchers of postdoctoral, PhD, Masters, or undergraduate levels with expertise including medical, mechanical and electrical engineering, biological and health sciences and manufacturing. Furthermore, the ICETLAB closely collaborates with CCRG’s Scientific and Translational Research Laboratory (STARLAB) to form a silo-free research environment amongst engineers, scientists, clinicians and patients. This research environment allows for rapid translation from bench-top testing through to clinical implementation.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS
To be eligible, applicants must meet the specific eligibility requirements for entrance to a PhD program at any of: The University of Queensland (UQ), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) or Griffith University.

Please refer to the relevant university webpages for specific entrance requirements into Higher Degree by Research programs:
- UQ website: https://graduate-school.uq.edu.au/uq-research-degrees
- QUT website: https://www.qut.edu.au/research/study-with-us
- Griffith University website: https://www.griffith.edu.au/research-study/what-is-a-hdr/phds-research-degrees

ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
- Demonstrated ability in mechanical or biomedical engineering
- Experience in 3D design (Solidworks), Computational Fluid Design (ANSYS, Fluent/CFX)
- Demonstrated ability to work in a team
- Strong work ethic
- Good oral and written communication skills

CONTACT
Prospective candidates should contact Dr Jo Pauls (Technical Director ICETLAB) by email:

Funding Notes

Both Australian and international applicants may apply and a competitive scholarship will be available for successful candidates (approximately $28,000/year up to three years). Successful international candidates will need to secure a scholarship to cover tuition fees from UQ, QUT or Griffith University. International scholarships are competitive and only applicants with a strong academic performance (First Class Honours/Masters) will be considered. Demonstrated research excellence indicators (e.g. peer-reviewed publications) are desirable but not essential. Selected candidates will be assisted to apply for a scholarship.

Please refer to the relevant university links:
- UQ View Website
- QUT View Website
- Griffith University View Website

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