This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the ‘GW4 BioMed MRC Doctoral Training Partnership’ which is offering up to 18 studentships for entry in September 2020.
The DTP brings together the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter to develop the next generation of biomedical researchers. Students will have access to the combined research strengths, training expertise and resources of the four research-intensive universities.
Lead supervisor: Dr Andrew Cookson, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bath email [email protected]
Co-supervisors: Prof Paolo Madeddu (Bristol), Dr Stephen Paisey (Cardiff) and Dr Katharine Fraser (Bath)
Heart attack, or myocardial infarction, is the cause of around 37% of heart failure cases. Current treatments post myocardial infarction include percutaneous coronary intervention, to restore myocardial tissue perfusion, and administration of thrombolytic and anti-platelet drugs, to breakdown and prevent clots. However, these are only partially effective; many patients’ hearts still undergo tissue remodelling, reducing pump function and ultimately leading to heart failure in the following months. New tools for optimising treatments are therefore needed to improve these outcomes. Numerical models have the potential to predict the interplay between complex biological systems and dynamic, mechanical tissue remodelling. The long-term goal is thus to develop computational models of heart failure, which can be used to aid treatment optimisation.
The specific aim of the project is to link perfusion with myocardial remodelling. To achieve we have identified three key objectives:
1. Develop a validated computational model of myocardial perfusion in the mouse heart, which will simulate both blood flow and cardiac mechanics
2. To derive a model of myocardial remodelling that can predict structural changes to the cardiac tissue
3. Use these models to predict the effect of varying treatment, such as ACE inhibitors.
To build these models, the student will process and analyse micro-PET-CT imaging data of a mouse experimental model of cardiac perfusion. This data is currently being gathered by another PhD student, and includes perfusion imaging using an N-13 ammonia tracer under both rest and stress, as well as CT images for cardiac anatomy. Mechanical contractile function will be assessed by echocardiography, providing another data source for model validation.
This project is an outstanding opportunity for the student to work in a challenging, multi-disciplinary area, developing their understanding of PET-CT imaging, cardiac physiology, and mechanical engineering. The student’s knowledge and skill development will be supported by a diverse supervisory team who are experts in their respective fields. In addition, each research group contains several PhD students, who will provide an invaluable source of peer learning and support. Both Dr. Cookson & Dr. Fraser are active members of the UK Fluids Network Special Interest Group for Cardiovascular Flow Modelling, which provides a relevant community through which the student can gain knowledge, network for career development, and disseminate their findings.
Finally, the supervisory team’s links with the Translational Biomedical Research Network and the Translational Biomedical Research Centre, Bristol, mean that the project has knowledge transfer and clinical translation at its core, and this research will link with an existing porcine experimental model of heart failure following myocardial infarction.
Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an area appropriate to the skills requirements of the project.
IMPORTANT: In order to apply for this project, you should apply using the DTP’s online application form: https://cardiff.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/gw4-biomed-mrc-doctoral-training-partnership-student-appl
You do NOT need to apply to the University of Bath at this stage – only those applicants who are successful in obtaining an offer of funding form the DTP will be required to submit an application to study at Bath.
More information on the application process may be found here: https://www.gw4biomed.ac.uk/doctoral-students/
APPLICATIONS CLOSE AT 17:00 ON 25 NOVEMBER 2019.