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Origami based design of ingestible medical instrumentation

   Department of Mechanical Engineering

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  Dr G Cummins  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The gut is an integral part of the body due to its absorption of nutrients and medicines. However, our understanding of it is limited. Several pill-sized, swallowable diagnostic devices have been produced in recent years to investigate the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract). These devices, while helpful, are mostly passively propelled through the GI tract by peristaltic forces, thereby providing a snapshot of the state of the GI tract at a single moment in time. These devices must have the ability to stop and analyse changes in the GI tract over an extended period to shed light on the metabolic and physiological conditions that contribute to GI disease.

This project will model, build and test an ingestible device that resides in the intestines for an extended period, enabling longitudinal analysis of the gut. The ingestible device will utilise origami design principles to design and make a small device that can be swallowed but can expand at a desired point along the gut, withstand the intestinal mechanical forces, and then collapse down again safely excrete the device.

This is an interdisciplinary project between the School of Engineering and the School of Mathematics at the University of Birmingham. The student will be hosted in the School of Engineering as a member of the Biomedical Engineering group, which are active in research areas such as biomaterials, orthopaedics, surface engineering, microsystems and medical device design. They will be supervised by Dr Gerard Cummins and Dr Rosemary Dyson. This research project builds upon Dr Cummins expertise in developing diagnostic and therapeutic technologies for gastrointestinal disease by applying electronics, mechanics and microengineering with the aim of clinical translation. The project also complements the research of Dr Rosemary Dyson in the utilisation of mathematical modelling to solve mechanical, clinical and industrial problems.

This project is a mix of mathematical modelling and the engineering to confirm these models via the design, construction and testing of proof of concept devices. Training will be provided to the successful applicant in the mathematics of topological design, mathematical modelling and biomedical engineering. If you wish to discuss any details of the project, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Gerard Cummins ([Email Address Removed]).

The project would be ideal for a student with a good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in mechanical engineering, applied mathematics, physics or biomedical engineering. An interest in medical device development and healthcare technology would also be beneficial.

Funding Notes

A studentship covering fees and stipend for Home (UK/IE) students can be awarded via the Centre for Doctoral Training in Topological Design ( for suitable candidates. A limited number of studentships are also available via the Centre for Doctoral Training for exceptional international students.
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