Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Chemical Engineering

Honorary Professorial Research Fellow



+44 (0)20 7594 2562n.wood




M17BACE ExtensionSouth Kensington Campus





My research falls within the Biofluids and Transport Focus Area in the Department.

Since 1992 my main research interest has been 'image-based cardiovascular modelling'.

Having obtained my PhD in haemodynamics under Professor Colin Caro in the Physiological Flow Studies Unit (now part of Bioengineering Department) at Imperial during the 1960s, I received a paper from a former collaborator, Professor Tony Seed of Charing Cross Hospital Medical School, in the late 1980s: 'Blood flow patterns in the human aorta studied by magnetic resonance' (Klipstein et al., Br Heart J 1987; 58:316-23). A note was attached: 'We were right!' The paper showed features that I didn't fully understand and I thought that if the MR (magnetic resonance) vascular anatomy and velocity imaging could be combined with CFD (computational fluid dynamics) there was something to be learned. Taking early retirement from industry in 1992, and starting an engineering consultancy (in aerospace & energy), gave me the opportunity to explore the idea. I met two of the authors of the 1987 paper, Professor Donald Longmore and Professor David Firmin of the Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Unit at the Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust

After many false starts, including being told by referees for prominent funding bodies that my idea was 'impossible', or 'unrealistic', funding was forthcoming from British Heart Foundation in 1996 for a pilot study in association with Professor David Firmin at the Brompton and Professor David Gosman in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Imperial. It is now a mainstream activity internationally, since image-based modelling, as it's now called, allows research on biomechanical determinants of arterial disease. The initiation, progression and catastrophic end points of atherosclerosis are strongly influenced by fluid dynamic phenomena and, because of its basis in medical imaging, the methodology leads to in vivo investigations on individual human subjects or patients.

In 2001, I was invited to join the team of Professor Yun Xu in Chemical Engineering and Professor Simon Thom and Professor Alun Hughes of the International Centre for Circulatory Health at NHLISt Mary's Campus & NHS Trust to work up research on the coronary arteries, which happened to be on my 'wish list'. Since then, through membership of this team, I've been able to become involved in most of the topics on my list as well as some new ones, aided by various collaborators, a terrific group of research students and post-docs. Dr Ryo Torii, whom we recruited for the coronary project and who was with us for an invaluable 7 years, is now a Lecturer at UCL, but is still a collaborator. The collaboration with the Brompton continued on the coronary research and various other projects.

Patient-specific and subject-specific image-based computational vascular modelling are major components of our research, as mentioned above, now including tumours. Patient-specific modelling has also become important in surgical decision making, e.g. for aortic aneurysms and aortic dissection, both of which are related to arterial disease, and in which we have several projects, including post-surgical assessments.