Student projects

Modelling cell deformation in ventricular assist devices

Heart failure is a global public health issue with more than 23 million cases per year. Many patients with end-stage heart failure would require transplantation, but due to the shortage of donor hearts, mechanical circulatory support is often the therapy of choice. Among the employed systems, ventricular assist devices are the most prevalent and show the highest survival rates.

Even though such devices greatly improve patient outcome compared to no therapy, there are still many unresolved problems. One of them is mechanically induced blood damage due to high shear stresses acting on cells within the pump. In order to predict potential hemocompatibility, computational fluid dynamics simulations (CFD) are often pursued. While these simulations can predict macroscopic flow features and stresses, they are not yet capable to model the deformation of single blood cells, which would be of great interest to understand and predict mechanically induced damage. To achieve this, we are coupling macroscale CFD models with microscale cell deformation models.

In this semester/ master thesis, the student shall work on our existing framework to model single cell deformation. Specifically, he or she shall bring our model to the next level by working on the validation of our deformation and strain models, using existing experimental data of cells deforming in microchannels.

We are looking for a mechanical engineering student who is interested in pursuing computational work within an interdisciplinary team at the interface of medicine, biology and engineering, while getting insight into current research on medical devices. We offer a stimulating environment, experienced supervision and outstanding computational infrastructure. The student will be part of the Zurich Heart Project, a collaborative endeavor between the University Hospital, the University and ETH Zurich.

Student: Esteban Ongini, ETH Zurich
Project type: Semester thesis
Project start: June 2018
Project end: August 2018
Supervisor: Dr. Diane de Zélicourt,

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