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The Influence of Haemodynamics on the Mechanics of Atherosclerosis Growth

University: RMIT

Industry Partner: CSIRO

Industry Supervisor: Dr Yuqing Feng

IDTC Student: Sargon Gabriel

Academic Supervisors: Dr Yan Ding, School of Science; Dr John Gear, School of Science

Atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular disease that is characterised by the development of inflammatory lesions within arterial walls. Depending on its location and severity, atherosclerosis can potentially lead to life-threatening conditions, such as heart attacks and stroke. Whilst there has been substantial research dedicated to investigating the disease, it still remains amongst the leading causes of death world-wide.

With the objective of improving our understanding of the mechanisms governing atherosclerosis, IDTC student Sargon Gabriel has partnered with the CSIRO to develop mathematical models that characterise its development. As the mechanics governing atherosclerosis are complex and involve multiple interacting processes, this research project has been specifically focused on investigating the influence of blood flow pulsatility on atherosclerosis.

This research has demonstrated that the influence of blood flow pulsatility is indeed significant on the development of atherosclerosis, and occurs via the action of oscillatory disturbances on the transport of blood-borne species that are integral to the disease. These results have been published in the Journal of Theoretical Biology, for which, various quantitative indices have been developed to identify the spatial distribution of oscillatory disturbances. Following this, a novel model has also been developed to efficiently resolve the pulsatile transport of blood-borne species.

It is anticipated that the outcomes of this research will find applications in the development of whole-body physiological models for use in computational patient-specific medicine. Indeed, though this research project is now complete, there is still much more to be done before all the mechanisms governing atherosclerosis are sufficiently modelled and its integration in computational patient-specific medicine is realised. Prospective students are encouraged to enquire with Dr Yan Ding for further information on this research.