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PhD in Bath: Multiscale Analysis of the interactions between a Novel Total Artificial Heart and the Native Cardiovascular System

Project Description

Project team: Dr Katharine Fraser ( & Dr Andrew Cookson (

Over 500,000 people in the UK suffer from heart failure, with 14,000 admitted to hospital each year and 10,000 deaths. Worldwide, 26 million have heart failure, with a predicted increase of at least 46 % by 2030. The health expenditure on heart failure in the US alone is $31 billion. For patients with severe end-stage heart failure the only hope of long term survival is a heart transplant. However, donor hearts are scarce, resulting in fewer than 200 heart transplants/year in the UK. Alternative treatments are urgently needed to keep patients alive until a donor heart can be found. One alternative is a Total Artificial Heart (TAH): a machine to completely replace the native heart. Unfortunately, the only TAH on the market suffers from several issues.

Scandinavian Real Heart AB are developing a TAH with a completely novel pumping concept based on displacement of a piston and valve. It is hypothesized that the use of positive displacement, rather than rotation, has major advantages for physiological compatibility. This project will then investigate the interactions between the mechanical device and the native cardiovascular system, with the overall aim of assessing the biocompatibility of the device to aid design optimisation and regulatory approval. Specifically, the aims are to quantify the level of blood damage caused by the TAH, and find the effect of pulse wave it generates on the human arterial system.

The research will involve:
• the use of computational fluid dynamics to simulate blood flow within the Real Heart
• the development of numerical models for damage to the different blood cells
• the use of mathematical modelling to investigate pulse waves in the arteries
There is also the opportunity to perform experimental validation of the numerical results.

Through this PhD the student will become an expert in computational and mathematical modelling of fluid flows, including commercial and opensource software, and in-house code development. By working with Real Heart the student will develop teamwork and communication skills; to strengthen these the student will be based with the company in Sweden for 3 months. The University’s DoctoralSkills training includes a wide range of transferable skills courses. The student will write high impact journal papers and present at leading international conferences. Healthcare technology and biomedical devices are rapidly growing industries; a PhD in this area would equip the student with sought after skills and qualify them for a range of opportunities.

This project is an outstanding opportunity to help bring the next generation of mechanical heart pumps to the clinic. In addition, the research will contribute to fundamental science in incompressible fluid mechanics, blood trauma, and arterial dynamics, and develop new simulation techniques to advance the field of mechanical circulatory support development.

The successful applicant will ideally have graduated (or be due to graduate) with an undergraduate Masters first class degree or very good 2:1 or MSc distinction (or equivalent). English language requirements must be met at the time of application to be considered for funding.

More Details:

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. Please ensure that you state the full project title and lead supervisor name on the application form.

A full application must be submitted by the application deadline, including all supporting documents, to enable review.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: Monday 30 March 2020

Funding Notes

Funding is for up to three and a half years. It includes UK/EU tuition fees, training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a Maintenance stipend of £15,009 per annum (2019/0 rate). EU students are eligible to apply if they have been resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the funding commencing.

Corporate members of the ESB:

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