The Aerosols in Medicine (AIM) Lab in the VCU College of Engineering (directed by Dr. PW Longest) seeks to address significant current challenges in the field of medical aerosols in order to improve the treatment of respiratory and systemic diseases and conditions including chronic lung infections, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, surfactant insufficiency and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
To address challenges in the field of aerosolized medicine, the AIM lab specializes in a thorough understanding of transport phenomena including fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, turbulence, thermodynamics, pharmacokinetics and multiphase flows, together with aerosol science, lung biology and lung physiology. Specific skills developed by lab members often fall into the areas of:
- Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)
- Inhaler and aerosol generation/delivery device development
- Development and use of characteristic and complete airway models
- Particle engineering
These skills are applied to various aspects of the medical aerosol delivery process from particle formation during spray drying and aerosol generation within an inhaler through particle deposition in the distal airways and post-deposition transport including drug dissolution, absorption and clearance.
The available position involves the use of CFD simulations to understand, characterize and improve the administration of a dry powder surfactant aerosol to infants. Key regions of interest include aerosol delivery through the existing device, patient interface, and infant extrathoracic airways. CFD simulations are expected to produce design modification that improve aerosol formation, reduce device and interface losses and improve transmission through extrathoracic airways and to infant lungs. Recommended design changes will be prototyped and tested in the Aerosols in Medicine (AIM) – Experimental Lab and in the collaborating VCU Department of Pharmaceutics labs. Improved aerosol delivery to the lungs of infants is needed in order to realize the benefits of aerosolized surfactant replacement therapy instead of the current clinical procedure of liquid bolus instillation, which involves subject intubation, administration of high volume carrier liquids and subsequent mechanical ventilation. In this project, low cost device and formulation options are being developed for applications in low resource settings.
Project funding is through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Other projects in the AIM Lab are funded by NIH and US FDA.
More Information about the AIM Lab and group publications can be found at:
- PhD in Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering or similar field
- Experience with multiphase CFD, commercial CFD codes requiring user-defined function development and use, and complex mesh generation
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to mentor junior team members
- Demonstrated ability to work in multi-disciplinary teams
- Experience with CFD applied to aerosol science
- Experience with CFD applied to inhaler analysis, design, and/or aerosol transport in the respiratory airways
- Experience with constructing small scale devices with high resolution 3D printing
- Experience with aerosol characterization and quantification experiments
- Publications in the areas of aerosol science or pharmaceutical aerosols
Job Open Date: November 2021
Applications Instructions: Interested candidates should email a cover letter of interest, CV, graduate transcript (unofficial) and three professional references that include emails and phone numbers to Prof. Longest (firstname.lastname@example.org). Applications will be reviewed upon receipt and accepted until the position is filled. Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies.
The Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department at VCU offers a highly interdisciplinary research experience, which is essential for the study of pharmaceutical aerosols. Areas of expertise include transport modeling, computational fluid dynamics, life science engineering, and pharmaceutics. This project is being performed in collaboration with the VCU Department of Pharmaceutics, which is located on the VCU Medical Campus. The VCU Department of Pharmaceutics is widely recognized for its Aerosol Research Group, which specializes in the area of respiratory drug delivery, and is the developer of the Respiratory Drug Delivery (RDD) Conference series (http://www.rddonline.com/), which currently hosts ~700 attendees to national and international conference sites each year.