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Pedro J. F. Aparicio


Doctoral Student at the Systems Biology Doctoral Training Centre and Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford


Improve clinical patient management and further fundamental biological understanding through simulation and modelling of systems-level mechanobiology

  • Academic: Mechanobiology, Systems Biology, Biomedical Fluid and Non-Linear Solid Mechanics, Modelling and Simulation.
  • Others: Translation of biomedical research into clinical settings, Healthcare systems, Scientific dissemination among non-specialised public.


Arteries are primarily responsible for efficiently bringing blood propelled by the heart into close proximity to each cell in the human body. Rather than simple passive conduits, arteries are extremely complex structures composed of multiple layers with distinct microstructural properties and functional roles, resulting in an optimal global mechanical response in healthy arteries. Different cell populations play key roles in the maintenance of an healthy arterial condition, by transducing the forces loading the wall (blood shear, wall straining), secreting, degrading and remodelling components of the surrounding load-bearing extra-cellular matrix and directly applying and exerting direct mechanical traction (the vascular tonus). Highly prevalent vascular diseases have a cellular basis and are due to impaired mechanisms of cellular response to changes in (biomechanical) environment and restoration of a healthy state (i.e., homeostasis). My work focuses on using computational tools to investigate mechanisms regulating arterial wall growth and remodelling in both healthy and diseased states. Experimentally-guided hypothesis on the cellular response to altered mechanical patterns are embedded in computational simulations, allowing for the investigation of competing mechanisms and models. Present and past topics of research include:

  • Endothelial cell spatial and temporal heterogeneity influencing the dynamics of elastin degradation and arterial aneurysm enlargement (Figure below - Simulation of Evolution of Wall Shear Stress distribution over time in Aortic Abdominal Aneurysm).
  • Signalling Pathways underlying adventitial Fibroblasts response to altered mechanical conditions, in particular the Transforming Growth Factor(TGF)-β pathway.
  • Mechanisms of temporal adaption of attachment stretch distribution in overstrained arteries.

Evolution of Wall Shear Stress (WSS) distribution over time in Aortic Abdominal Aneurysm (AAA)


DPhil in Systems Biology 
Doctoral Training Centre and Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford 
2012-2016 (expected)
DPhil Thesis: Modelling of Signalling Pathways in Vascular Mechanobiology
Mechanobiology Group (Dr Mark Thompson), Theoretical Mechanobiology Group (Dr Paul Watton) and Continuum Biomechanics Laboratory (Professor Jay Humphrey)
MSc in Biomedical Engineering
Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
MSc Thesis: Patient-specific Modelling of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Evolution
Fluidics and Biocomplexity Group (Professor Yiannis Ventikos and Dr Paul Watton)

Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Sciences - Biomedical Engineering
IST, Technical University of Lisbon

Work experience

President of the Executive Board
Portuguese Association of Researchers and Students in the United Kingdom (PARSUK) , UK
PARSUK is an independent, non-profit association created in order to represent and promote the communication within and integration of the community of Portuguese researchers and students in the United Kingdom.

Visiting Assistant in Research
Yale University - Department of Biomedical Engineering, New Haven, CT, USA
Research Project - Adaptation of an animal experimental model in Prof Jay Humphrey’s Continuum Biomechanics Lab to the study of the mechanobiological vascular wall response to biomechanical and biochemical perturbations, with a particular focus on the TGF-beta/Ang-II signalling network.

Research Analyst Intern
SEHTA - South East Health Technologies Alliance, Kent, UK
Internship - Development of technical and economic feasibility studies for innovative  telemedicine devices and systems

Junior Researcher
LIP - Instrumentation and Experimental Particle Physics Laboratory, Lisbon, Portugal
Introduction to Scientific Research Grant - Effects of Ionizing and Non-ionizing Radiation on Astronauts

Awards and scholarships

2014 - Santander Academic Travel Award

2012-2016 - EPSRC Doctoral Training Grant Studentship

2012 - Prize for Performance in university Examinations, Jesus College, University of Oxford

2009-2010 - Merit Diploma, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Technical University of Lisbon

2008-2009 - Merit Diploma, Instituto Superior Tecnico, Technical University of Lisbon

Publications: Journal articles

Aparicio P, Thompson MS, Watton PN. (2016) . Journal of Biomechanics. 49(12):2321-2330.

Aparicio P, Mandaltsi K, Boamah J, Selimovic A, Bratby M, Uberoi R, Ventikos Y, Watton PN. (2014) Modelling the Influence of Endothelial Heterogeneity on Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Evolution. International Journal of Numerical Methods in Biomedical Engineering. 30(5):563-586.

Publications: Conference abstracts and proceedings

Aparicio P, Gundiah N, Thompson MS, Watton PN. (2016) Modelling the Chemo-Mechano-Biology of Arterial Growth and Remodelling: a 3-Dimensional, Fluid-Solid-Growth Simulation. Abstract to the European Congress on Computational Methods in Applied Sciences and Engineering (ECCOMAS). 5-10 June 2016, Crete Island, Greece. - Oral Presentation.

Aparicio P, Thompson MS, Watton PN. (2016) Vascular cells as dynamic integrators-actuators: A multiscale theoretical framework applied to fibroblast differentiation in aneurysm development. Abstract to the 11th International Symposium on Biomechanics in Vascular Biology and Cardiovascular Disease. 2-3 May 2016, Atlanta, GA, USA. - Poster Presentation.

Aparicio P, Thompson MS, Watton PN. (2015) Workers, scaffolds and megaphones - or why vascular cells matter. Abstract to the Second Workshop of the Multiscale Biology Network. 1 December 2015, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK. - Oral TED-style Presentation.

Aparicio P, Watton PN. (2015) A Chemo-Mechano-Biological Model of Arterial Tissue Growth and Remodeling: Signaling Pathways governing Myofibroblast Persistence underlying Vascular Pathology. Abstract to the Vasculata 2015, 3-6 August 2015, Charlottesville, VA, USA. - Poster Presentation

Aparicio P, Rahman T, Thompson MS, Watton PN. (2015) A Novel Chemo-Mechano-Biological Mathematical Model of Arterial Tissue Growth and Remodeling: Modelling of Signaling Pathways governing Adventitial Adaptive Response. Abstract to the 13th US National Congress on Computational Mechanics, 26-30 July 2015, San Diego, CA, USA. - Oral Presentation

Aparicio P, Mandaltsi A., Thompson MS, Watton PN. (2014) Investigating the role of Cell Signalling on Intracranial Aneurysm Evolution: A novel chemo-mechanobiological mathematical model. Abstract to the 7th World Congress of Biomechanics, 6-11 July 2014, Boston, USA. - Poster Presentation

Mandaltsi A, Chen H, Aparicio P, Hornsby J, Dickinson E, Eriksson T, Ventikos Y, Watton PN. (2014) Modelling the mechanobiology of intracraneal aneurys evolution. Abstract to the 7th World Congress of Biomechanics, 6-11 July 2014, Boston, USA.

Mandaltsi A, Aparicio P, Robertson A, Watton P. (2014) Modelling the mechanobiology of intracranial aneurysm evolution. Abstract to the Interdisciplinary Cerebrovascular Symposium IntraCranial Stent Meeting, 2-4 June 2014, Zurich, Switzerland.

Aparicio P, Boamah J, Chan I, Chen H, Dickinson E, Thomas E, Grytsan A, Hornsby J, Mandaltsi A, Penrose J, Watton P. (2014) In silico modelling of the mechanobiology of soft-tissue. Abstract to the INSIGNEO Showcase, University of Sheffield, 8 May 2014, Sheffield, UK. - Poster Presentation

Aparicio P, Thompson MS, Watton PN. (2013) A computational model of arterial wall degeneration: Coupling signalling pathways to vascular mechanobiology. Abstract to the 3rd International Conference on Computational and Mathematical Biomedical Engineering, 16-18 December 2013, Hong Kong. - Oral presentation.

Aparicio P, Mandaltsi A, Chen H, Watton PN. (2013) Modelling the evolution of vascular disease: aneurysms. Abstract to the Medical Engineering Centre Annual Meeting, 3-4 September 2013, London, UK. - Poster presentation

Aparicio P, Mandaltsi A, Boamah J, Ventikos Y, Watton PN. (2013) Modelling the Influence of Endothelial Cell Heterogeneity on Abdominal Aneurysm Evolution: a Patient-specific Simulation using a novel Fluid-Solid-Growth (FSG) Framework. Abstract to the XXIV Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, 4-9 August, Natal, Brazil. - Poster and Oral presentation (Top 5 Poster for ISB David Winter Young Investigator Award)

Publications: Other projects

Aparicio P. (2013) Computational Modelling of Vascular Mechanobiology. Second DTC Short Project Report. University of Oxford.

Aparicio P. (2013) Multi-Scale Modelling of Neural Injury.  First DTC Short Project Report. University of Oxford.

Aparicio P. (2012) Patient-specific Modelling of Abdominal Aneurysm Evolution. MSc Thesis (MSc Individual Project Report). University of Oxford.

Aparicio P, Ferry Q, Galerneau C, Kara T, Lyka E. (2012) Stroke, Chapter Rehabilitation Technologies: Recent Development and Future Development. MSc Research Skills Project. University of Oxford.

Conferences and events

Global Health & Innovation Conference. Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA, 28-29 March 2015.

id2 Conference - Modelling Approaches in Biomedical Science. UCL, London, UK, 16-17 May 2013.

Mathematical Modelling for Biologists Summer School.  University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK, 10-13 September 2012.

Summer School in Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology. TU Graz, Graz, Austria, 3-7 September 2012.

Continuum Mechanics in Biology & Medicine LMS-EPSRC Short Course. UCL, London, UK, 17-22 June 2012.

Healthcare Technology Summer School course. Copenhagen University College of Engineering, Copenhagen, Denmark, August 2011.

Health and Engineering Summer School course. Hogeschool van Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands, July 2011.

Health and Medicine: Social, Political and Ethical Issues in National and European Levels Athens course. Mines Paris Tech, Paris, France, March 2011.

Demonstrating and teaching experience

Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (01/2015)


2014 - P5 Computing Lab, 1st Year MEng - Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford

2014 - BME5 Tissue Engineering Lab, MSc Biomedical Engineering - Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford

2013 - B3B Personalised Modelling module - Centre for Doctoral Training, University of Oxford

2013 - Matlab module - Doctoral Training Centre, University of Oxford


2014 - 1P3D Bending and Torsion I, 1st Year MEng - Wadham College, University of Oxford

2014 - 1P3E Bending and Torsion II, 1st Year MEng - Wadham College, University of Oxford

2014 - 1P3G Materials and Solid Mechanics III, 1st Year MEng - Wadham College, University of Oxford

2014 - 1P3H Dynamics I, 1st Year MEng - Wadham College, University of Oxford

2014 - 1P3J Dynamics II, 1st Year MEng - Wadham College, University of Oxford

2014 - 2A3H Mechanical Vibrations, 2nd Year MEng - Wadham College, University of Oxford

2014 - 2A3C Mechanics of Materials I, 2nd Year MEng - Wadham College, University of Oxford

2014 - 2A3D Mechanics of Materials II, 2nd Year MEng - Wadham College, University of Oxford

Academic event organisation

GraPE2015 - 4th Annual Forum of Portuguese Graduates Abroad. Guimarães, Portugal, 28 December 2015. Role: marketing and communications coordinator.

ID2 Oxford 2014 - Interdisciplinary Student Conference. Oxford, UK, 26-27 June 2014. Role: Lead organiser.

Contact details