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Modelling the cardiovascular side-effects of anaesthesia

School of Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences

Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

"Propofol is currently the anaesthetic most commonly employed in surgical operations. However, it has a variety of cardiovascular side-effects that are potentially life-threatening, in particular for fragile patients. We will create a computational modelling pipeline that directly relates the effects of propofol on the cardiomyocytes to predictions of changes in the electrocardiogram (ECG), validated with ECG collected from patients undergoing sedation at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. We expect that our results will directly inform clinical practice, in particular concerning the administration of vasopressors with propofol.

The project will be headed by Prof Ingo Bojak, who has extensive experience with modelling the effect of anaesthetic agents on neurons. Dr Chris Edge, a Consultant Anaesthetist at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, will co-supervise and lead the experimental work at the hospital. A/Prof Thom Oostendorp of the Radboud University Medical Centre Nijmegen in the Netherlands will be a key collaborator, supplying knowledge and academic contacts in the domain of heart research in general, and access to his well-known software ECGSIM in particular.

We will develop a model of the sinoatrial node and the associated cardiac structures, likely extended to the ventricles, that predicts the effect of propofol (and in future other agents, like sevoflurane) on the ECG. The modelling pipeline consists of three parts: a cardiomyocyte “cell model” adapted for anaesthesia, a “biodomain model” of electrophysiological properties of heart tissue, and a “signal model” that expresses the resulting potentials on the thorax. We will focus particularly on developing the “cell model” here, while in part using prior work and integrating existing software for the “biodomain” and “signal” models. We will collect our own data in patients undergoing sedation for surgical procedures, such as caudal epidural injections."

Funding Notes

"Candidates should have a UK honours degree at 2.1 or above (or an equivalent international degree) in applied mathematics, biology, computer science, pharmacology, physics or related fields.

It is essential that the successful applicant has experience with mathematical modelling and numerics, including working with ordinary differential equations. Furthermore, the project requires basic programming skills to create and modify scientific software.

We welcome candidates with a biological background, as long as they have sufficient computational experience. Candidates from a technical background will be expected to build up detailed (though specific) biological knowledge during the project."


Dr Chris Edge, Consultant Anaesthetist, Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
A/Prof Thom Oostendorp, Radboud University Medical Centre Nijmegen, Netherlands

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