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Funded PhD studentship in modelling scoliosis progression - Exeter, UK

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  • Funded PhD studentship in modelling scoliosis progression - Exeter, UK

    EPSRC funded PhD in Physics: Biophysics - Flexural-torsional buckling as a model for curve progression in scoliosis Ref: 1747

    About the award

    Location: Streatham Campus, University of Exeter, EX4 4QJ
    Primary supervisor: Dr Judith Meakin

    Secondary supervisor: Professor Christopher Smith

    Scoliosis is a spinal deformity that involves an abnormal lateral curvature. The most prevalent type is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) which presents at 10–14 years and it is estimated to effect nearly 3% of children. Treatment options vary with severity: for mild curves between 10 and 25 degrees observation is used to monitor progression, for severe curves surgery is required to correct the deformity.

    A major challenge in managing patients with mild to moderate curvatures is predicting what will happen to them. In some children the abnormal curvature disappears (they ‘grow out of it’) but in some it progresses to a more severe curvature and around 10% of patients go on to require surgery. Progression is usually monitored via the acquisition of x-rays but this incurs clinical costs and increases the risk of developing cancer in later life.
    A biomechanical model that explains and predicts scoliosis progression would help inform clinical decisions, potentially saving costs and reducing risks to patients. We hypothesise that such a model exists in the phenomena of flexural-torsional buckling where the combined flexion and torsion of a beam is reminiscent of the concomitant axial rotation of the spine that accompanies the lateral curvature.

    The aim of this project is therefore to develop a flexural-torsional buckling model of scoliosis curve progression. The study will involve developing and evaluating a flexural-torsional buckling model of the spine using analytical or finite element methods, using the model to determine the biomechanical mechanisms underlying progression, and performing a pilot study to assess the accuracy of the model in predicting progression.

    Contact for Informal enquiries:
    Dr Judith Meakin (tel: [IMG]resource://skype_ff_extension-at-jetpack/skype_ff_extension/data/call_skype_logo.png[/IMG]01392 724109)

    Application criteria: Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2:1 Honours degree, or equivalent, in engineering or physics.


    13th February 2015
    3.5-year studentship: Tuition fees (UK) and an annual stipend equivalent to current Research Council rates
    per year