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Using Ultrasound Measurements for the Stiffness Determination of the Fetus Aorta

   Department of Engineering

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  Prof Ashraf Khir  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Fully Funded Doctoral Studentship in Bioengineering,

Department of Engineering, Durham University

The University

Durham University, one of the top 100 universities in the world (ranked 82nd in QS World University Rankings 2022) is inviting applications for a funded PhD studentship that covers the fees at the home studentship level and covers stipend (overseas students are welcome to apply but would need to cover the difference between home student’s fees and overseas fees) to work on an exciting project aimed at studying the Fluid Mechanics of the Fetus Aorta. The project will be conducted withing the rapidly growing Bioengineering Group at the Department of Engineering in collaboration with our clinical partners in the UK and Germany. The successful candidate will have full access to the facilities available at the Bioengineering Group Department of Engineering at Durham University.


The Project

Title: Using Ultrasound Measurements for the Stiffness Determination of the Fetus Aorta.

Description: Stiffness of the aorta is of physiological significance and clinical importance as it affects the mechanical load of the left ventricle; main pumping chamber of the heart. This has been well characterised in the human adults, but data are lacking in the fetus, due to the difficulties in obtaining reliable measurements. However, recent development in ultrasound technologies and analytical methods promise the possibility of determining the stiffness of the fetus aorta, noninvasively, which could be obtained during the pregnancy’s routine examination. Therefore, the aim of this projects is to establish the evolution of sfetus aorta stiffness during the gestation period, and beyond. The project is in collaboration with our clinical partners in Munich, Germany and St George’s Hospital, London, UK. Our partners will collect the images and the PhD work will be focussed on analysing the images of both healthy and abnormal pregnancies, and draw conclusions from the results.

Assessment Criteria

Prospective candidates will be assessed on how well they meet the following:

Essential criteria:

·       Graduates with at least 2:1 degree with 65%+ average in an Engineering or Physics discipline.

·       Robust understanding of the fundamentals of fluid mechanics.

·       Strong considerations of engineering applications and problem solving.

·       Excellent written and spoken communication skills in English.

Desirable (not essential) criteria:

·       MEng and MSc graduates in Engineering or Physics disciplines are are preferred.

·       Experience of image analysis techniques.

·       Experience of coding with MATLAB.

·       Knowledge of optimisation.


The Successful Applicant: will be supervised by experts in the hemodynamics and image processing field, and  will be able to access training through Durham University’s Researcher Development Programme. This project presents an excellent opportunity for a candidate interested in a research career, within a 3.5 years funded study programme.

·       The PhD student will have the possibility to work alongside the clinicians and sonographers in our clinical partners.

·       The student will also have the possibility to get involved with other institutes at Durham and training courses.


Funding and Application Process

·       The studentship is open for home and overseas students, but the tuition fees will only be covered at the UK level. Stipend will also be received for a period of 3.5 years

·       For the eligible and successful applicant, the funding covers a tax-free stipend at the ERDF rate (£17,668 for 2022/23) and the full tuition fees (£4,596).

·       To apply for this studentship, applicants should submit their application using the online system:

·       Applications will be processed as they are received until the position is filled.

·       The Department of Engineering holds an Athena Swan Bronze award, highlighting its commitment to promoting gender and ethnic diversity in Science, Engineering and Technology.

·       For informal discussion interested candidates are welcome to contact Prof AW Khir to discuss project-specific requirements: [Email Address Removed]

Closing Date for Applications: Upon successful recruitment of a suitable applicant

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