Student projects

Development of a pulsatile flow test bench for in-vitro studies on endothelial cells


Von Willebrand Factor (vWF) is a large protein that plays an important role in blood clotting. It is secreted by endothelial cells (EC) into the blood stream, a process that is influenced among other factors by the strain and shear stress  acting on the EC. Quantitative analyses of these impacts, however, are missing. A detailed study of these effects in vitro requires a flow driving system that is able to reproduce complex pulsatile flow profiles.

Project Goal

In this project, a test bench is to be developed which allows the generation of accurately controllable pulsatile flows for in-vitro studies on endothelial cells. A similar system like described in [1] provides a basis which is to be adapted and extended for the specific needs at hand. The envisioned system should enable both steady and transient flows, including simple sinus waveforms and more complex physiological profiles (including backflow).

The project presents the opportunity of experiencing and driving the complete development process, including the design of a suitable concept for the test bench, selection and assembly of the hardware and the implementation of needed control systems. Initial operations and validations of the system will provide a satisfying end goal.

In this project, the student will:

  • experience the complete development process of an advanced fluidic test bench including concept design, assembly and initial operation
  • benefit from the collaboration with an interdisciplinary group
  • contribute to studies on the impact of mechanical stimuli on the secretion of vWF


  • basic knowledge of fluid dynamics
  • basic experience with control systems
  • strong motivation to work in an interdisciplinary field
  • ability to work independently and reliably
  • systematic and methodical approach to problems



[1] Conway, D. E., et al. (2009). Endothelial cell responses to atheroprone flow are driven by two separate flow components: low time-average shear stress and fluid flow reversal. American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 298(2), H367–H374.


Type: Master Thesis

Prerequisites: basic knowledge of fluid dynamics, basic experience with control systems

For further information or to apply, please contact
Jonas Abeken
+41 44 635 50 53


Dr. Diane de Zelicourt
+41 44 635 50 56

  • Exemplary flow system, from [1]