Bio-Tribology: friction at the interface between medical implant and biological tissue

In partnership with EPSRC and the University of Leeds, the University of Sheffield wishes to recruit an outstanding engineering or physical sciences graduate who wishes to embark on a career in medical engineering, studying friction at the interface between medical devices and biological tissues.

The design of medical devices that contact the body (surface devices, external communicating devices, and implantable devices) as well as devices that contact other devices or have parts that come in contact with each other, must involve the consideration and measurement of friction, or the relative slipping motion of a material over another material. The science of friction, lubrication and wear is called tribology.

Reducing friction minimises wear and, in some cases, inflammation or toxicity that can result from wear debris. Friction reduction also minimises insertion forces, such as for catheters, and maximises patient comfort and the machineability of medical devices. Although tribology in medical devices can have a major impact on device operation and patients’ life, very little is known about friction at the interface between implant and biological tissue.
This project will explore the role and importance of friction between cells and materials that are commonly used in medical devices, with the aim of improving healthcare with better medical devices. The result of this research can be applied to a wide range of devices for which slip is important: prostheses; feeding tubes; wound drains; endotracheal tubes; trochars; catheters; dilators; guide wires; angioplasty balloons; vascular, biliary and urethral stents; patches; filters; hypodermic or suture needles; and electrical pacemaker leads.

The ideal candidate will be a EU/UK student, have a 1st class or a good 2.1 degree in mechanical engineering, bioengineering, physics, applied mathematics or a related discipline. No previous clinical or biological knowledge is required, although the candidate should demonstrate an interest in learning these aspects, and be keen on working at the interface between engineering and the life sciences.

Further Information

This studentship covers the cost of tuition fees and provides an annual tax-free stipend for 3 years at the standard UK research rate (£14,553 for 2017/18) and is restricted to home and EU students.

For further information or clarifications about this project please contact the supervisor: Dr Cécile M. Perrault.

The start date will be October 2017.

Closing date: 30th June 2017. Applications will be considered after this date until the position is filled.