Muscle physiology and its dependence on healthy microstructure

Material models that capture the varied microstructure in muscles will be used to simulate how muscle groups interact and function effectively.

Start date
1 October 2019
35 months
Application deadline
Funding source
University of Surrey
Funding information

Funding will include UK/EU tuition fees and a stipend at the standard UK Research Council doctoral stipend.


This fully funded project will simulate crucial muscle functions to improve understanding of debilitating and costly medical conditions. The simulations will capture anatomy at the macro-scale and link the muscles’ physiological behaviour to their underlying structure at much smaller scales.

While most individuals enjoy healthy muscle function, the consequences of damage can be life-altering. Recent studies have shown that while muscles may appear to be healed following trauma, they may still perform poorly. This is because the architecture of the muscles has been permanently altered during repair. 

High resolution numerical analysis is effective for structural modelling as it is able to incorporate the geometry, loading and material properties of complex systems in a controlled manner. This type of analysis has therefore been used in a wide variety of biomedical applications. The project will consider novel ways to characterise muscles so that the physiological response is linked to their underlying structure. Fine-tuning material models to see the impact that changes have on a structural or physiological response will also form a critical part of the PhD research. This will enable short- and long-term effects of trauma to be simulated and better understood.

Throughout the project, case studies will be used to better inform the biomedical community about debilitating conditions. The intricate muscles of the pelvis will be the basis for the real-world applications of the research as this fascinating muscle group performs many vital functions. 

The project links biomedical and mechanical engineering techniques with clinical considerations. It is anticipated that the majority of the project will focus on simulations and could suit engineers, physical scientists or applied mathematicians with an interest in this area. Work will be conducted in the Centre for Biomedical Engineering, within the School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences.

Interested individuals are encouraged to contact the project supervisor, Dr Matthew Oldfield, for further information. 

Eligibility criteria

You are expected to hold a first or 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline (or equivalent overseas qualification), or a 2:2 plus a good masters degree (distinction normally required).

All applications are welcome but funding only fully covers UK and EU students. Shortfalls in fees from international students will have to be made up by the applicants and cannot be covered by the host department.

IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

Further details can be found under the entry requirements tab on the Biomedical Engineering PhD course page.

How to apply

All applications must be made through the Biomedical Engineering PhD course page. and include a CV with details of two referees and a covering letter detailing interest and suitability for the project. Please mention this studentship in your application to the Biomedical Engineering PhD to be considered.

Biomedical Engineering PhD

Application deadline

Contact details

Matthew Oldfield
11 AA 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 684402
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