PhD Studentship: Biomicrofluidics within Stented Ureters

Ref: EngSci-BIO-106
Research group: Bioengineering, Faculty of Engineering and the Environment
Deadline: Applications will be accepted at any time until the position is filled. 

In a healthy condition, the urine is conveyed from kidneys to the bladder through coordinated ureteric contractions. However, pathological conditions can cause ureteric obstruction by internal blockages (e.g., kidney stones) or external compressions (e.g., tumours). In order to release urine from the renal pelvis out of the body, a ureteric stent is often used if the obstruction cannot be removed. The most commonly used stents are hollow and flexible polymer tubes extending the entire length of the ureter with multiple side drainage holes on the tube wall. However, the use of ureteric stents can cause a number of complications such as irritation of the bladder, urine reflux from bladder to kidney, and long-term effects associated with infection, encrustation and biofilm formation. These complications significantly impact the patient’s management, quality of life and healthcare costs. 

The aim of this research is to develop a biomimetic ureteric stent in vitro testing system which will simulate the in vivo physiological environment of stented ureters, allowing us to experimentally investigate the stented ureteric flow dynamics, the formation of encrustation and biofilm on stents, and the mechanism of ureteric stent malfunction and failure. The specific objectives are (i) to design and fabricate biomimetic microfluidic devices, (ii) to identify and quantitatively evaluate critical fluidic parameters, (iii) to simulate the process of encrustation and biofilms formation on stents in order to elucidate the formation mechanisms allowing predication and prevention of stent malfunction and urinary stone composition, and (iv) evaluate and validate the microfluidic model developed against animal tests. Both experimental and computational/ numerical approaches will be employed. These studies will rely on the expertise in microfluidics in the Faculty of Engineering & the Environment, and will involve close interaction with urological researchers with appropriate laboratory, clinical and nursing experience.

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If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Xunli Zhang, Bioengineering research group, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 5099.

To apply, please click the Apply button below.

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