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UCL Mechanical Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences


PhD: Mathematical Modelling in the Physiology of Breathing to Support Clinicians in Treating Intensive Care (ICU) Patients under Ventilation

Mechanical Engineering
3.5 years
Stipend :
Application deadline:
20 May 2021

Vacancy Information

A 3.5-year funded position is available to use/develop mathematical modelling techniques (e.g, systems approaches, control engineering, modelling in ODEs or PDEs) to understand the physiology of breathing and support clinicians in treating Intensive Care Patients under ventilation.

Studentship Description

We are seeking an outstanding candidate to do an exciting PhD studentship funded by the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UCL as part of CHIMERA project. CHIMERA is one of four national Maths in Healthcare Hubs announced in March 2020. CHIMERA, which stands for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation through Mathematics, EngineeRing and AI, is a multidisciplinary Hub which brings together experts in mathematics, statistics, data science and machine learning, with unique, high volume and rich data sets from both adult and paediatric Intensive Care Units provided through embedded Project Partnerships with Great Ormond Street Hospital and University College London Hospitals.

Each year about 20,000 children and 300,000 adults in the UK need intensive care. These critically ill patients are continuously monitored at the bedside, including measurements of heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and other vital sign data. CHIMERA will deliver new mathematical frameworks combining artificial intelligence and coupled differential equations to learn the biophysical relationships that govern the interdependencies between physiological variables of interest, essential to know who must stay and ICU and who is on the road to recovery. These models will be based on data sets for thousands of patients, obtained through hospital project partners.

In this PhD opportunity in particular, we are seeking to improve on existing models of breathing/respiration/ventilation by adding physiological control mechanisms of the respiration and a clear link to the cardiovascular system.

The successful candidate will interact with data scientists, machine learning experts and clinicians regularly.

Person Specification

Have achieved (or are predicted) a first class or upper second class honours undergraduate degree (or equivalent international qualifications or experience). An MSc is also preferred, though not essential.

Our preferred subject areas are core Engineering disciplines (e.g. Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical, Electrical Engineering, etc.) or Physical Sciences (Mathematics and Physics). All applicants must be able to demonstrate strong mathematical modelling skills.

Strong programming skills in Matlab, Python, C++, Java or any other programming language.

Experience in physiological modelling with ODEs or PDEs, control engineering, mathematical modelling or systems modelling would be a plus.


This funding is available for UK and EU passport holders. International students may apply, however, fees will be capped at UK/EU level (students will be required to pay the difference in fees). There is no minimum qualifying residence requirement for applicants from the EU. We actively encourage the application of female applicants for this position. Please DO NOT enquire about this studentship if you are ineligible.  Please refer to the following website for eligibility criteria:

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