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Funded PhD Fellowship in Multiscale Computational Mechanics of Bone Fragility in T2 Diabetes

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The Biomechanics Research Centre (BioMec) at NUI Galway is seeking applications for a funded-PhD position in Multiscale Mechanics of Bone Fragility in Type-2 Diabetes for a project funded by the Irish Research Council Laureate Scheme, under the supervision of Dr. Ted Vaughan (Google Scholar).

Project Background: The onset of Type-2 Diabetes is associated with increased bone fracture risk, despite the fact that bone volume is not reduced. This implies that T2 Diabetes impairs bone quality, whereby the intrinsic properties of the bone matrix itself are altered. It is widely believed that non-enzymatic glycation of proteins in the organic matrix underlie the pathogenesis of diabetic skeletal fragility. However, due to the complex nature of bone fracture events, there is a distinct lack of understanding of how altered protein mechanics impair functional properties in T2 diabetic bone disease. This project will develop a novel multiscale mechanics framework using state-of-the-art computational techniques to interrogate and elucidate the physical mechanisms that are responsible for diabetic bone fragility.


Project Outline: This PhD project will use the finite element method to predict the behaviour of a lamellar bone through a multiscale modelling framework, focussed at two separate length scales. Firstly, a novel Representative Volume Element (RVE) for lamellar bone (microscale) will be identified, whereby mineralised collagen-fibrils, the polycrystalline hydroxyapatite mineral components and intermediate organic layers of non-collagenous proteins will be discretely represented. Using an appropriate homogenisation strategy, this approach will predict the mechanical response of the tissue under multiaxial loading conditions to generate a multiaxial failure envelope for lamellar bone. This information will then be used to describe the behaviour of tissue-level bone in image-based models of the trabecular bone structure derived from clinical data. At this scale, clinically-relevant loading scenarios will be simulated and a probabilistic-based modelling approach will be used to identify the precise roles that bone quality and bone quantity have on bone fracture, and associated fracture probabilities.

Candidates interestedshould have a degree in Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or closely-related discipline. Prospective candidates should be highly-motivated to participate in computational research to facilitate a better understanding of the fragility during Type-2 Diabetes. Experience in the following areas would be beneficial:

·         Strong background in mechanics/biomechanics of materials.

·         Finite Element Analysis (Abaqus experience desirable).

·         Image-based model reconstruction techniques (e.g. micro-CT,).

·         Programming languages (e.g. Matlab, Python or FORTRAN) ,

Please send applications to Dr. Ted Vaughan ted.vaughan(at) in asingle PDF document including a one-page cover letter discussing experiences, and a two-page CV. Use the subject line “PhD Application - Multiscale Computational Mechanics of Type-2 Diabetic Bone Tissue.

The closing date for applications is 5th July 2018.


This project will be supported through an annual stipend of €16,000 and University fees (~€5,750) covered for a duration of 4 years, with an expected start date of September 2018. 

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