Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Mechanical and Design Engineering

Start dates

October and February

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded 3-year PhD. 

The PhD will be based in the Faculty of Technology, and will be supervised by Dr Martino Pani, Dr  Afshin Anssari-Benam and Dr Andrea Bucchi.

The work on this project will involve:

  • working in close collaboration with clinicians for a high impact multidisciplinary research project
  • elaborating a comprehensive subject-specific computational modelling procedure to inform clinicians in planning critical vascular surgeries, improving the clinical outcomes
  • develop and verify a robust and rigorous experimental protocol based on in vitro models that closely simulates clinically relevant conditions to validate the numerical tools

Each year, around 5,400 new patients with kidney failure receive haemodialysis treatment across UK. Effective haemodialysis requires access to the patient’s blood supply in large flow volumes (typically >600 ml/min).  To this purpose, an access point is surgically created by connecting a vein and an artery. This is known as “Arterio-Venous Fistula” (AVF).

Currently, surgeons mainly rely on their experience to create the AVF in a site they believe will result in the required flow-rate. However, according to the latest UK Renal Registry report (2016), on average only 27.8% of patients start their treatment with a successful AVF, demonstrating the inadequacy of the current clinical assessment. 

The principal aim of this project is to demonstrate proof of concept for a predictive computational tool to inform the surgeon of the optimal location for creating an AVF. The model will be based on subject-specific data about arm vasculature, and will simulate the blood flow in different AVFs simulated locations. The optimal AVF site which produces the maximum flow-rate will be then indicated.

To calibrate and validate the model, an in vitro setup of the patient’s local vasculature will be developed, using a Pulsatile Blood Pump, silicon or 3D printed blood vessels, water as the working fluid to assess (and compare) the flow rate in the different AVF locations considered by the numerical model.

This project is a joint collaboration between the Cardiovascular Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) based at the School of Mechanical and Design Engineering, and the Vascular Assessment Unit at the Queen Alexandra Hospital. Patient specific data will be provided by the Queen Alexandra  Hospital, and the model predictions will be fed-back to their consultants. Comparisons between the model outputs and the surgeon independent assessment will permit additional calibration.

Fees and funding

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

2020/2021 entry (for October 2020 and February 2021 entries)

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a

International full-time students: £16,400 p/a

International part-time students: £8,200 p/a

PhD by Publication

External candidates £4,407 p/a

Members of staff £1,680 p/a*

2021/2022 entry (for October 2021 and February 2022 entries)

PhD and MPhil

Home/EU/CI full-time students: £4,407 p/a*

Home/EU/CI part-time students: £2,204 p/a* 

International full-time students: £17,600 p/a

International part-time students: £8,800 p/a

All fees are subject to annual increase.

PhD by Publication

External Candidates £4,407 p/a*

Members of Staff £1,720 p/a*

If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2021/22 please visit this page.

*This is the 2020/21 UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) maximum studentship fee; this fee will increase to the 2021/22 UKRI maximum studentship fee when UKRI announces this rate in Spring 2021. 

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

You'll need an upper second class honours degree from an internationally recognised university or a Master’s degree in Medical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or related discipline. In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Experience with numerical modelling software, CAD software, MATLAB or equivalent structured programming languages, and interest to experimental validation tests is desirable.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Dr Martino Pani at to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  An extended statement as to how you might address the proposal would be welcomed.

Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

If you want to be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SMDE4620220 when applying.


October start

Apply now

February start

Apply now

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