PhD opportunity: improving the design of medical devices used by asthmatic children

PhD opportunity: improving the design of medical devices used by asthmatic children
Closing date
Employer: The University of Sheffield (Department of Mechanical Engineering) Location: Sheffield


Supervisors: Dr Alberto Marzo and Professor Jim Wild

Asthma is a chronic disease that affects 5.4M sufferers in the UK alone. Control of the disease can be achieved by administrating drugs (bronchodilators) using pressurised Metered Dose inhalers, often enhanced by the combined use of asthma spacer devices. These devices are mostly effective in children but their design is old, cumbersome and difficult to use, which leads to a low treatment intake with increased risk of serious complications.

Using modelling and experimental approaches, the project will investigate the link between spacer design, patient-specific respiratory system anatomy, and drug delivery. The aim is to ultimately develop a computational framework for the identification of effective and personalised devices that are easy to use, portable, discrete, attractive to the younger population, cost effective, easy to manufacture, disposable and with low environmental impact.

The project is in collaboration with ELAROS (NHS spin-off company), the Sheffield Pulmonary Vascular Disease Unit (national NHS referral centre for Clinical Pulmonary Imaging) and the Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Figure 1. CFD analysis of drug particles distribution in a typical asthma spacer (left). Comparison of CFD vs MRI data in central airways (right).

About the Department
The research work will be based in the Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine, within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The Insigneo Institute for in silico Medicine is Europe’s largest research institute dedicated entirely to the development, validation, and use of in silico medicine technologies.

The students will be working within an exciting and dynamic group of approximately 40 PhD researchers and around 8 postdoctoral research fellows undertaking a broad area of in silico medicine research with strong links to clinical centres and biomedical industry.

The Department of Mechanical Engineering has been a major discipline in the University since its foundation in 1905. The Research Excellence Framework (REF, December 2014) placed the Department within the Top 5 for Mechanical Engineering in the UK.

Candidate Profile and Further Information
Applicants for the post must have (or be expected to attain) a first-class or upper second class degree in an engineering discipline. An aerospace/mechanical engineering background would be an advantage, as would experience of computational fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, or image-based computer modelling.

Please note, this position is only open to UK and EU citizens with 3 or more years residency.

This studentship covers the cost of tuition fees and provides an annual tax-free stipend at the standard UK research rate (£14,777 in 2018/19).

How to apply?

To apply please use our standard on-line PhD application form and indicate on your form that you are replying to this advert or email for further guidance on applying.

Contact details

For further information about this project please contact Dr Alberto Marzo.