Study level

  • Vacation research experience scheme


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Research centre


Professor Emilie Sauret
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Engineering


Red blood cells (RBCs) require high deformability to sustain their passage through narrow capillaries of the microvasculature, which is primarily influenced by mechanical and geometrical factors of the cell. Ageing of the cell, several diseased conditions and some extracellular conditions adversely affect the cell morphology and deformability leading to cell rupture during micro-circulation and vesiculation (i.e. the process of removal of defective patches of the RBC membrane forming spherocytes that is associated with the loss of both RBC membrane and its volume making the cell smaller and denser).

Therefore, it is important to understand the influence of mechanical and geometrical factors on cell deformability and membrane vesiculation mechanisms for diagnostic purposes. Different techniques have been used to investigate the RBC deformability in vitro, and optical tweezers is one such technique and provides a highly sensitive assessment of the cell deformability at the single-cell level.

Research activities

  • Carry out literature review.
  • Use an existing computational model to carry out extensive simulations.
  • Report results and findings.


This project aims to understand the influence of membrane mechanical properties and localised membrane defects on cell rupture during optical tweezers stretching deformations and on vesicle formation, and how the vesicles can affect RBC deformability. To achieve this, you will adapt and deploy an existing coarse-grained numerical approach to model the RBC stretching under optical tweezers stretching forces, and to model the membrane vesiculation of the red blood cell, incorporating membrane biomechanical properties and its defects.

Skills and experience

  • Strong interest on numerical modelling.
  • Some experience in programming (MATLAB, C++).



Contact the supervisor for more information.