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Aug 4

PhD Vacancy: Multiscale Modelling of Atherosclerosis

Katie Konyn

in News

Fully-funded studentship available with the Multiscale Cardiovascular Engineering Group at UCL to focus on the multiscale modelling of atherosclerosis, a complex inflammatory response which is one of the major causes of vascular disease.

  • Project Description

    The UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering is offering a three year studentship in collaboration with the UCL Department of Clinical Pharmacology which will focus on the multiscale modelling of atherosclerosis

    The studentship is funded by the EPSRC through the UCL Institute for Healthcare Engineering and offers full tuition fees and a stipend of £16,057 per annum (for 3 years).

    Problem Description

    Atherosclerosis, commonly known as “hardening or furring” of the arteries is an inflammatory response started by the accumulation of lipids and fatty acids in the arterial vessel wall. The many clinical manifestations of atherosclerosis include stroke, myocardial infarction and peripheral disease amongst others.

    The condition is very patient specific and multifactorial; its progression depends on the haemodynamic characteristics of the artery in question; genetic and metabolic factors and even lifestyle. Multiple mechanisms of incredible complexity happen simultaneously at different biological and time scales.

    Understanding of the disease is key but scientists and clinicians alike are baffled by its bewildering complexity. Pre-clinical studies in animal models are still necessary in order to understand the key mechanisms of the disease as much is still unknown. This is an area where mathematical, computational models can offer much needed help. Not only can computational models help us to understand complex problems, they will also limit and optimize the number of in-vivo experiments needed to progress the understanding of the disease whilst offering the opportunity to test cause-effect relationships in-silico (in the computer).

    The Studentship

    There are many challenges to models of atherosclerosis, starting with the fact that these must be ‘multiscale’: they must be able to capture some of the key mechanisms at different levels of biological organization and to integrate them into a single, unified mathematical model.

    In this study, a model of atherosclerosis will be assessed. In-vitro and in-vivo data from pre-clinical studies will inform a mathematical model of atherosclerosis in order to understand biology and, from a mathematical point of view, how ‘good’ the model is.

    This project relies on already existing models of atherosclerosis to be expanded and refined, developed within UCL Mechanical Engineering. Significant training and support is offered by the group to make this project a real success.

    The successful applicant will be part of a highly enthusiastic and interdisciplinary team, with an outstanding record of training and mentoring PhD students and young researchers. The host will be the Multiscale Cardiovascular Engineering Group at UCL which is internationally recognised by the development of unique models and in-silico tools for multiscale cardiovascular problems.

    There are excellent job prospects after this PhD in either Academia or Industry. Our industrial links reach some of the ‘big pharma’ companies of the UK as well as high-tech consultancy firms in modelling and simulation.

    Person Specification

    We are looking for excellent graduates from a number of disciplines:

    • Chemical engineering
    • Biochemical engineering
    • Mechanical engineering
    • Bioengineering
    • Biomedical engineering
    • Medical physics
    • Applied mathematicians

    Key Requirements:

    • 1st class or high upper 2nd class degree, or MSc with merit or distinction is required.
    • Strong analytical and creative skills
    • Good programming skills
    • Excellent numerical and mathematical skills
    • A passion for biology and/or medicine
    • Experience with Matlab is required
    • Experience in modelling of chemical or biological problems and solving ordinary differential equations (ODEs) is desirable (training will be provided)

    The student is expected to continue developing an already existing model of atherosclerosis and to interact with both, the experimental and modelling teams to conduct computational analyses and simulations of a finely validated (pre-clinical) model of atherosclerosis. A driven and results oriented person with strong interpersonal and communication skills is needed for the project. Additional support in terms of the modelling will be provided.


    Please e-mail Vanessa Diaz ( for an informal chat.

    Funding Notes

    Funding is at UK rates and therefore candidates must be UK/EEA nationals.

    Applications for this post should be made via Prism.