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Predicting atherosclerotic plaque vulnerability with novel imaging and modelling techniques

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Krams
    Prof Torok
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisors: Professor Rob Krams ([email protected]), Professor Peter Török ([email protected]), Dr Ryan Pedrigi ([email protected]) and Dr Ranil de Silva

Applications are invited for this MRes/PhD studentships within the BHF Centre of Research Excellence at Imperial College London, one of five starting October 2016. The studentships are funded through a training grant from the BHF on a tax-free bursary starting from £17,500 per annum. Tuition fees will be paid at the Home/EU rate. There is no provision for overseas student fees.

Imperial College London’s BHF Centre of Research Excellence, sponsored by the UK’s leading charity for pioneering research into heart disease, is an established cross-disciplinary venture. Our aim has been to foster a unique collaborative research environment that draws on Imperial’s world class reputation in cardiovascular science, engineering and collaborating physical sciences.

Project summary
Atherosclerotic plaque rupture is associated with heart attack and stroke, and it is the leading cause of death in cardiovascular disease. The process of plaque rupture is principally a mechanical phenomenon, caused by stress concentrations occurring at the interface of the stiff fibrous cap overlaying the compliant (non-load-bearing) necrotic core of the plaque. Although plaque stress concentrations have been estimated in patient data, they are limited by the inability to quantify patient-specific plaque stiffness locally. To solve this problem, we have recently developed a Brillouin confocal microscope to optically measure plaque stiffness. This project will use this technique to measure the stiffness of plaques vulnerable to rupture within a mouse model of atherosclerosis. Mouse carotid arteries will be instrumented with a flow-modifying cuff and imaged in vivo to obtain 3-D reconstructions, which, combined with the stiffness maps, will allow development of fluid-structure interaction models in the commercial package Abaqus to compute plaque stress concentrations. Mechanical metrics quantified by the model (e.g., shear stress and wall stress) will then be associated with histological markers of atherosclerosis (co-registered to the vessel reconstruction using custom software) to determine the influence of the disturbed tissue mechanical environment in promoting vulnerable plaque development.

Students will first undertake the MRes in Biomedical Research, a full-time master’s course in the Cardiovascular Science, Technology and Medicine (C/STEM) stream, with projects and taught classes provided by BHF Centre members. Our trainees receive cross-disciplinary supervision, with at least two supervisors drawn from different Faculties or Departments. Upon successful completion of the MRes year, students will progress to a 3 year PhD training programme in an aligned area.

Imperial College London provides excellent opportunities for research student training. All students benefit from a full programme of training in research and transferable skills organised through the Graduate School, the quality of which has been recognised several times at the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards.

How to Apply
Applicants must hold, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in an appropriate subject from a recognised academic institution. Candidates must fulfil College admissions criteria and meet BHF residency requirements. To apply, please send your CV, the names and addresses of at least two academic referees and a personal statement of no more than 1,000 words explaining your interest in a cross-disciplinary approach to cardiovascular science relevant to the project to Dr Gunvanti Goding by email on [email protected]

Please assume that your application has not been successful if you have not heard from us within a month of the closing date.

Closing date for all applications: 15th February 2016

Interviews will be held in March 2016

Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/nhli/

Committed to equality and valuing diversity. We are also an Athena Silver SWAN Award winner and a Stonewall Diversity Champion.

Funding Notes

The studentships are funded through a training grant from the BHF on a tax-free bursary starting from £17,500 per annum. Tuition fees will be paid at the Home/EU rate. There is no provision for overseas student fees.

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