4 PhD studentships for EU students are available at the University of Sheffield in the field of Multiscale Models for the musculoskeletal system (modelling and validation). Closing date: 11 November 2014
Outstanding graduate scientists are invited to apply for PhD Studentships to join a cross-disciplinary research group developing a multiscale model of the human musculoskeletal system that describes the mechanobiological processes from the whole body down to the cellular level. A computational platform, currently non-existent, for the management of musculoskeletal disorders would allow patient specific diagnosis and treatment with better predictions of the benefits to the patient, improvements in the quality of life and aid decision making for the individualised patient. This leads to improved outcomes and faster recovery. Four PhD studentships are available to study and contribute to different aspects of the multiscale platform. These exciting opportunities will involve collaboration with engineers, biologists and clinicians as part of a cross-disciplinary research group.
The PhD students and their supervisors will form a network within the MultiSim EPSRC Frontier Engineering Award that will meet on a regular basis to discuss progress and plan future work. The students will also be supported by a Doctoral Development Programme that provides a cohesive training plan for cross-Faculty PhD students. The students will interact with other mechanobiology researchers through a ‘Mechanobiology Club’ which will meet termly in an informal setting. The students will be expected to present their findings at national and international conferences and to publish in high-quality, international journals.
Projects and supervisors
1. A dynamic computational model of the cell cytoskeleton
Damien LacroixMechanical Engineering & INSIGNEO InstituteFaculty of Engineering
When mechanical loading is applied on a cell, a response from the cytoskeleton is expected with rearrangement of the organization of the actin filaments and microtubules. The objective of this thesis is to develop a finite element model of dynamic adaptation of the cytoskeleton in response to mechanical loading and perform a validation using long term AFM experiments. The effect of loading cycles and period of loading will be investigated by measuring the cell stiffness and visualizing the cell surface at different time points after applying a series of controlled indentation.
2. Estimate of muscle forces under variable neuromotor control
Claudia MazzàMechanical Engineering & INSIGNEO InstituteFaculty of Engineering
Xinshan LiMechanical Engineering & INSIGNEO InstituteFaculty of Engineering
Gait variability refers to the stride-to-stride fluctuations typically observed in human gait, which are the reflection of the underlying neural control of gait. The analysis of gait variability parameters has allowed the identification of changes in the postural control system resulting from aging, intervention, or pathology. Nevertheless, this aspect is usually ignored when modelling the strategies used by the neuromotor control system to drive the muscle forces associated to the execution of a task. The aim of this PhD project is to develop an experimental and computational framework for the estimate of muscle forces during the execution of physiological motor tasks which accounts for neuromotor variability.
3. Multiscale modelling and its application in musculoskeletal system between body and organ levels
Lingzhong GuoAutomatic Control and Systems Engineering & INSIGNEO Institute
Faculty of Engineering Stephen BillingsAutomatic Control and Systems Engineering & INSIGNEO Institute
Faculty of Engineering
The task will focus on the development of multiscale modelling techniques and methods to link mathematical models of physical systems across different spatial and/or temporal levels, with an application to musculoskeletal system modelling. Ultimately, the aim is to develop an integrated system of models for interaction between lower body movement and the femur's response, together with appropriate numerical algorithms to solve the resulting multiscale system for use in a musculoskeletal dynamic simulator. Candidates should have a background in control and systems engineering, mathematical modelling, or applied mathematics.
4. Validation of computational models of bone responses to stimuli
Enrico Dall’AraHuman Metabolism & INSIGNEO InstituteFaculty of Medicine
Tim SkerryHuman Metabolism & INSIGNEO InstituteFaculty of Medicine
The validation of computational models of the musculoskeletal system is an important step in translation of research. In this project we will use in vivo skeletal models to determine the response of bone to controlled mechanical loading, models of bone pathologies such as osteoporosis and use of antiresorptive or anabolic (e.g. bisphosphonates and PTH respectively) interventions. The goal of this work is to improve the generation and validation of the computational models applied to a murine model. The candidate will first optimize the imaging acquisition of the 3D geometry and structure of the modelled tissues (bones, tendons, muscles, etc.) by using state of the art in vivo scanning facilities (microCT and microMRI), and then create an experimental framework to validate the computational models (i.e. to understand whether they are predicting accurately what they were designed for) in vitro. The ideal candidate should have experience at least in one of the following fields: experimental bone mechanics, microCT/microMRI imaging and medical image processing.
Applicants should possess a good honours degree or equivalent in bioengineering, mechanical engineering, applied mathematics or a related discipline.
The studentship covers the cost of tuition fees and provides an annual tax-free stipend at the standard UK research rate (£13,863 in 2014/15). Please note that only home/EU students are eligible for full support.
Applications from overseas students are welcome, but in this case it is expected that the student will have independent financial support to cover the difference between the overseas rate and those available through this scholarship.
For an informal discussion about these studentships please contact Prof Damien Lacroix:
Tel: +44 (0) 114 2220156
How to apply
Please send your cover letter, CV, references and transcripts to Amanda Burnett
Tel: +44 (0) 114 2220167