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PhD position in biomechanics of prenatal joint development Imperial College London UK

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  • PhD position in biomechanics of prenatal joint development Imperial College London UK

    A funded three year PhD studentship is available in the Developmental Biomechanics Group in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London. For more details on the research group please see here:

    How do bones acquire their shapes? Establishing a paradigm for the biology and mechanobiology of synovial joint development

    Project Description
    The movement of a baby in the womb is critical for normal development of their bones and joints. However, the link between the mechanical stresses and strains that arise due to these movements and critical processes during formation of the skeleton remains unclear. This is due to the complex interactions that occur between biological (cell activity) and mechanical influences (stresses and strains) as the skeleton forms. In this PhD project, experimental and computational modelling techniques will be combined to reveal the ‘rules’ governing prenatal joint development.

    Fish and chick models will be used to gather information on how joint shapes and patterns of cell activity are affected by a change in the fetal movements. These data will be incorporated into a computational model which, by the end of the PhD, will be able to predict how joints grow and change in shape over development. Finally, human fetal anatomical data will be incorporated into the computational model to predict how human joints grow and change shape over prenatal development, and how a change in fetal movements can negatively affect joint shape.

    The PhD student will benefit from a broad and interdisciplinary research training, learning a range of experimental (e.g., fish and chick embryology, histology, immunohistochemistry, 3D imaging) and computational techniques (e.g., automated image processing, image registration, finite element analysis). The project is a collaboration with Dr Chrissy Hammond at Bristol University, and there will be the opportunity for research secondments and frequent interactions with the collaborating supervisor. The student will join a vibrant and interdisciplinary group working on a variety of topics relating to the role of mechanical forces in skeletal development. Please see the group webpage for more details on the current research (

    To apply, please send a single PDF document including a one-page cover letter discussing research interest and experiences, and a two-page CV, to Dr Niamh Nowlan ( before January 15th.

    Funding Notes
    The funding is for 3 years, starting October 2018*. UK and EU citizens are eligible***. Eligible candidates should have a bachelor degree (2.1 or first class) or a master degree (merit or distinction) in bioengineering, mechanical engineering, or another closely related field.
    *The standard PhD studentship covers home/EU tuition fees and provides a bursary (this was 16,553p.a. for 2017-18, including London weighting). ***Highly qualified, motivated overseas students (non-UK/EU) can discuss alternative funding **
    Last edited by Niamh Nowlan; December 19, 2017, 04:42 AM.