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Replacement of animal models of cardiac arrest and resuscitation strategies using a computer simulation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, February 28, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Cardiac arrest may be caused by a variety of pathologies and events, causing the heart to stop pumping blood around the body and to the brain, causing loss of consciousness and cessation of breathing. Outcome may be improved significantly by the early use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). However, the optimal combination of chest compressions and ventilation of the lungs and post-resuscitation care have not been established.

Due to the difficulty of conducting clinical trials in cardiac arrest and due to the lack of homogeneity and applicability of animal studies, the scientific evidence supporting CPR and post-resuscitation treatment still suffers from important gaps. Computational modelling offers a novel and powerful approach to research into such inaccessible issues. In contrast to trials on animal models and humans, in-silico models of individualised patient and disease-pathology are amendable to detailed validation, assuring reproducibility and translation into human application. Our simulation suite, the Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Systems Medicine (ICSM), is a set of integrated, high-fidelity cardiopulmonary models, offering an excellent opportunity to test new CPR and post-resuscitation strategies, extensively validated against different patient data and ventilation strategies.1-5

The main objectives of this NC3Rs PhD studentship are:

1. Further develop and validate the high-fidelity computational model describing the pathophysiological changes associated with cardiac arrest in-silico humans;

2. Obtain novel understanding of the pathophysiological state of cardiac arrest;

3. Test new cardiopulmonary resuscitation strategies;

4. Investigate clinical management strategies after cardiac arrest;

5. Develop new intra- and post-resuscitation individualized strategies.

The PhD student will have the chance to present their results at leading international conferences in the fields of cardiovascular and bioengineering area, and will publish their work in principal peer-reviewed journals. This, together with the direct clinical relevance of the project, will offer a concrete possibility to build networks with other academics and clinicians in this field. Finally, the student will take part to the annual summer school organized by the NC3Rs and he/she will disseminate the results of the project through presentations at workshops organized by NC3Rs, such as the “NC3Rs Cardiovascular Showcase event” and the “NC3Rs Pint of Science”.

Meet the team:

The Project will be based at University of Nottingham within the Anaesthesia and Critical Care group – Division of Clinical Neuroscience, School of Medicine.

Prof. Jonathan Hardman, the principal supervisor, is the Professor and Head of Anaesthesia and Critical Care group; he is a leading authority in modelling clinical and biological systems. He has published more than 200 papers and has supervised 17 doctoral students. Dr Marianna Laviola, the co-supervisor, is a research fellow under Prof Hardman’s supervision, and she will be the primary day-to-day contact for the student. She is currently working on developing of the ICSM simulator to investigate apnoea during severe hypoxemia and new ventilation strategies in critical illness. Furthermore, Prof Declan Bates, Professor of Bioengineering at University of Warwick and the group’s principal collaborator in modelling complex medical systems, will co-supervise the student remotely.

The University of Nottingham (UoN) has been ranked 8th in the UK for research power (REF 2014), confirming Nottingham’s place in the top tier of the world’s elite higher education Institutions. The UoN offers facilities that will improve the learning and the living experience of the student, from provisions for childcare and restaurants to numerous computer rooms, 13 libraries, 3 sport facilities and 1 NHS health service. The School of Medicine, offering a multidisciplinary research environment, will provide 3Rs training and extensive (free) post-graduate courses, helping the PhD student to improve the skills required for this highly interdisciplinary project and for their future career development, across the four domains of the Vitae Researcher Development Framework. The Division of Clinical Neuroscience places emphasis on research through the Neuroclinical Science Research Day, a biannual event aimed to showcase the research of PhD students and research staff.

Studentship to commence: April 2019

Duration: 3 years, full-time

Funder: NC3Rs

Eligibility: Candidates should hold, or realistically expect to obtain, at least an Upper Second-Class Honours degree or equivalent. They should have a strong academic background in Bioengineering or Control System Engineering, with some knowledge of biomedical science.

Funding Notes

Funding: Funding provides full support for tuition fees for the three-year duration of the studentship, associated project costs, and an annual tax-free stipend (£14,777).

For more information: View Website View Website


1. Hardman JG, Bedforth NM, Ahmed AB, Mahajan RP, Aitkenhead AR: A physiology simulator: validation of its respiratory components and its ability to predict the patient's response to changes in mechanical ventilation. Br J Anaesth 1998; 81: 327-332

2. Das A, Gao Z, Menon PP, Hardman JG, Bates DG: A systems engineering approach to validation of a pulmonary physiology simulator for clinical applications. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 2011; 8: 44-55

3. Wang W, Das A, Ali T, Cole O, Chikhani M, Haque M, Hardman JG, Bates DG: Can computer simulators accurately represent the pathophysiology of individual COPD patients. Intensive Care Med Exp 2014; 2: 23

4. Das A, Cole O, Chikhani M, Wang W, Ali T, Haque M, Bates DG, Hardman JG: Evaluation of lung recruitment maneuvers in acute respiratory distress syndrome using computer simulation. Critical Care 2015; 19: 1-15

5. Laviola M, Das A, Chikhani M, Bates DG, Hardman JG: Computer simulation clarifies mechanisms of carbon dioxide clearance during apnoea. Br J Anaesth In Press

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