- Dr Christoph Meinert, Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is one of the most frequent cardiovascular diseases, affecting over 200 million people at an annual cost of $21 billion.
PAD cases are predominately (80%) located within the popliteal artery, a highly flexible vessel behind the knee joint which twists, extends, and bends during standing, walking, and sitting.
As a result, active or sedentary lifestyles play an important role in altering the biomechanics leading to popliteal diseases.
Furthermore, surgical treatments within the popliteal artery have been inconsistent, with a 2% to 65% incidence of stent fracture depending on design, placement, and mobility, which have led to dismal long-term success of 50% at 5 years.
An accurate simulation of popliteal biomechanics as well as peri- and postoperative treatments would aid in the design of improved therapies.
This project has been granted ethical approval with access to patient data with some preliminary funding and outcomes indicating its feasibility.
This project will develop your skills in computational and experimental techniques. These skills are useful in a wide breadth of manufacturing industries.
You'll be involved in:
- a literature review of current:
- surgical treatments
- research approaches
- medical DICOM-image reconstruction (MRI, CT)
- finite element biomechanics and fluid dynamics simulation
- 3D printing of soft robots incorporating vessel anatomy using flexible materials
- bioreactor tissue culture integrating pneumatic control to simulate mobility
- microscopy and medical image validation of soft robotic and bioreactor outcomes.
Your supervisor/s can work with you to tailor the research project to your study level (PhD, Master of Philosophy, Honours or VRES).
You'll be working with a talented team across the:
- Biofabrication and Tissue Morphology group
- Micro Tissue Engineering lab
- Herston Biofabrication Institute.
This team includes physicists, engineers, mathematicians, biologists and the clinicians who are operating on the patients.
You'll attend surgeries and consultations and will be expected to attend lab group meetings once per week alongside full time research.
The aims of this project include:
- development of a medical imaging-to-robot design pipeline able to digitally simulate patient anatomy and biomechanics
- identification of printing processes and materials which recapitulate this simulated physiology
- development of a bioreactor tissue culture able to capture anatomical, biomechanical, and cellular aspects
- simulations of exercise and endovascular treatment to predict personalised patient outcomes.
Skills and experience
To be considered for this project, you must have completed or be completing a degree in one of the following disciplines:
- life sciences
Relevant computation experience (eg MIMICs, AutoCAD, MATLAB) or experimental experience (eg 3D printing, cell culture) is useful, but not required.
You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.
Contact the supervisor for more information.