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Bill Townsend

Bill Townsend - LHS ARCHA researcher

Research Student in Biomedical Engineering

Career History

  • 2010-date     Ph.D, Biomedical Engineering, Aston University
  • 2008-2010   Mechanical Design Engineer, CP Engineering, Malvern
  • 2007-2008   M.Sc., Mechanical Engineering (Modelling) (Distinction), Aston University
  • 2004-2007   B.Sc. Hons, Maths and Computer Science (Class I), Aston University

Research Interests

Current thesis title: “Age dependent changes in mechanical properties and biological functions in endothelial cells from donors with high and low levels of cholesterol”

My PhD will focus on determining underlying links between factors that are already known to cause atherosclerosis, a vascular disease that involves a build-up of cholesterol plaques that can eventually become unstable and rupture, causing a potentially severe cardiac event such as stroke or heart attack. 

Cellular cholesterol is known to increase with age, and is also known to affect cell membrane function, such as conformational changes at protein receptor sites and the degree of monocyte (white blood cell) adhesion.  When endothelial cells have a high degree of monocyte adhesion, an inflammatory response is incited which leads to a fatty streak, the prerequisite of the atherosclerotic plaque.  In addition, the endothelial cells themselves can become activated, leading to biological events exacerbating the rate of plaque proliferation.  Finally, a factor which can affect the endothelial function is the mechanical properties of the cell, such as stiffness and stress.  These will be analysed using an atomic force microscope and modelled mathematically.

Therefore, the purpose of the PhD will be: to quantify the effect of cell membrane function by age-dependent cholesterol levels; to determine the role of cell mechanical properties (e.g. stiffness, stress) in selected biological functions; and to establish a link between ageing, cholesterol levels, endothelial dysfunction, and cell mechanical properties.

Prizes

  • Priestly Scholarship from Aston University for Best First Year Combined Honours Student.
  • Lesley Wicket Memorial Prize from Aston University for Highest Average Module Mark for First Year Maths.

Society Memberships

  • Institute of Mechanical Engineers
  • Biochemical Society

Employable Graduates; Exploitable Research