PhD title  : The effects of load and strain rates on biological systems

Supervisor : Dr William G Proud

David is a first year PhD student with the ISP. His area of research focuses on the study of load and strain-rates on biological systems, with most of his work concentrating on animal cells under transient high-pressure pulses such as blast waves. Understanding the response of biological systems to blast-based events and their dependence on the conditions of loading is of great importance towards developing improved therapies for blast casualties and complex post-traumatic pathologies.

The primary aims of his research concentrates on developing an experimental platform with the aim of replicating the features of the blast wave, working out the individual elements of the pulse and investigating the subsequent effects on biological systems. In this perspective, David will address Instron and Drop-Weight techniques, split-Hopkinson pressure bar experiments and the development of a plate impact-style testing platform at the ISP. Advanced diagnostic techniques, such as heterodyne velocimetry, digital image cross-correlation and invasive microsensors will be implemented with the purpose of specifying precisely the conditions produced by loading.

In the short term, the development and calibration of a blast-like loading platform based on multiple strain-rate mechanical techniques will allow the investigation of aspects of blast waves and their effects on biological systems. In the long term, it is envisioned that the experimental platform will help to provide relevant information to identify the biomolecular signature of blast injuries via the analysis of cells in primary blast-related injuries. Ultimately, this could help medical researchers and practitioners to use biomarkers associated with primary blast injuries to provide targeted treatments for related pathologies.

The project takes place in the CBIS (Centre for Blast Injury Studies) laboratories. It is also in collaboration with other medical projects studying biological samples under blast conditions.