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How does hip shape lead to cartilage damage in young people? A multi-disciplinary investigation


Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

About the Project

This project will use a combination of computational modelling and experimental testing to investigate how damage can accumulate the human hip joint. The PhD student would join a friendly and dynamic research group including engineers with expertise in mechanical testing of natural tissues and in computational biomechanics methodologies, as well as collaborating biologists and clinicians.  

Hip pain in younger people can be caused by impingement in the joint. In certain positions the shape of the joint can cause increased pressure and tissue deformation, which in turn can initiate damage. In addition to the pain experienced, which can affect both work and lifestyle, impingement has been strongly linked to the initiation and progression of osteoarthritis, which is the largest cause of disability in the UK and an indication for hip replacement surgery.  

Current surgical treatments aim to relieve pain and preserve the natural joint by repairing damaged tissues and creating more space for motion. However, it is unclear whether these surgical interventions reduce the lifetime risk of osteoarthritis development.  Biomechanical testing methodologies, which will help to understand the impingement damage mechanisms, are in their infancy. This project will use these state-of-the-art methods and develop some new ones, to addresses scientific questions around the initiation of tissue damage under impingement conditions. 

The aim of the project is to establish which features of hip joint shape have a critical effect on the initiation and progression of tissue damage.

The core methodologies relevant to this work are mathematical programming, finite element analysis, three-dimensional image analysis, including micro Computed Tomography imaging, tissue dissection, and mechanical tissue testing. Completion of a PhD in this area will develop a wide range of skills from practical laboratory work to analytical and programming skills.

The successful candidate should have experience in mechanical engineering methods including finite element analysis and ideally have some laboratory experience. During the project, you will be expected to prepare and test human cadaveric tissue specimens; previous experience in handling human or animal tissue would be beneficial but is not essential. Full training will be provided on all laboratory methods and the associated health and safety requirements. 

There will be opportunities to be involved in wider activities organised by the research group, including public and patient engagement events. You will be encouraged to develop wider skills through training provided by the University and through opportunities to participate in international conferences or laboratory visits. 


Funding Notes

A highly competitive School of Mechanical Engineering Studentship consisting of the award of fees with a maintenance grant of £15,609 in session 2021/22 for 3.5 years.
This opportunity is open to UK applicants only. All candidates will be placed into the School of Mechanical Engineering Studentship Competition and selection is based on academic merit.

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