Miguel O. Bernabeu

Senior Lecturer


Between 2008 and 2011, I completed a doctorate in Computational Biology at the University of Oxford. The core of my doctoral research was the development of computational methods for the simulation of ventricular cardiac electrophysiology. My contributions became the basis of multiple subsequent Ph.D. projects and were pivotal for the success of the EU-FP7 grant VPH-preDiCT. During the project we had the opportunity to work closely with pharmaceutical companies in order to explore how mathematical modelling and simulation can be brought into their drug cardiotoxicity research pipeline. My work was also selected for presentation at the Heart Rhythm 2011 conference, one of the biggest international meetings on cardiac science, including basic, translational, and clinical research.

In 2011, I joined the Centre for Mathematics and Physics in the Life Sciences and Experimental Biology (CoMPLEX), UCL, where I worked on characterising the relationship between haemodynamics and vascular remodelling with a combination of computational and experimental methods. My work featured in the New Scientist magazine (#2906, Feb 2013) and has been published in journals and international conferences. During this time, I realised that a strong interaction between experimental and computational techniques is required in order to address the most pressing questions on how blood vessels respond to normal and abnormal flow conditions during development and disease.

In 2015, I joined the The University of Edinburgh with a prestigious Chancellor’s Fellowship where I established my first research group at the Centre for Medical Informatics, Usher Institute. Promotion to Senior Lecturer followed in 2019. The research activities of my group have been supported with funding from Fondation Leducq, European Commission, EPSRC, MRC, British Heart Foundation, The Alan Turing Institute, and Diabetes UK.


D.Phil. in Computational Biology, University of Oxford, 2011.

M.Sc. in Parallel and Distributed Computing, Technical University of Valencia, Spain, 2007.

B.Eng. in Computer Science, Technical University of Valencia, Spain, 2005.

Areas of interest for supervision

I'm currently looking for candidates to fill these posts:

Additional PhD funding opportunities exist through The University of Edinburgh (http://www.ed.ac.uk/student-funding/postgraduate). Please get in touch if you would like me to consider supporting your application.

Research summary

Abnormal vascularisation is a hallmark of multiple diseases. For example, insufficient vessel growth and regression of existing vascular networks contribute to disorders such as myocardial infarction and stroke. Conversely, uncontrolled vessel growth has been linked to tumorigenesis and retinopathies. The need of restoring the correct vascular density under these conditions has led to the development of the concept of vascular normalisation therapies. In recent years, researchers have discovered important molecular mechanisms regulating endothelial cell behaviour, such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Furthermore, antiangiogenic approaches aimed at controlling vessel growth in cancer and eye disease led to the approval of therapeutics targeting VEGF. This approach has proved effective in treating age-related macular degeneration. However, only a fraction of cancer patients show benefit as tumours evolve resistance mechanisms towards VEGF receptor inhibitors. Therefore, there exists a pressing need for advancing our understanding of vascular biology at the basic science level and to translate these findings into the next generation of vascular normalisation therapies. 

My group's research is on vascular structure and function. Our approach is theoretical through mathematical modelling and machine learning and we work closely with vascular/cancer biologists and clinicians. My research interests concern: a) the mechanistic study of vascular remodelling during angiogenesis, b) the development of image-based methods for diagnosis of vascular conditions in retinal scans, and c) the study of transport phenomena in the tumour microenvironment.

Knowledge exchange

What is the real world applicability of my research?

I develop algorithms for the automated analysis of biomedical images (typically angiograms across a range of imaging modalities, from clinical to microscopy) and their automated classification based on expertly annotated data.

How could this apply to commercial stakeholders?

Commercial stakeholders can integrate these algorithms in their medical devices or in device-agnostic diagnosis/referral platforms. Custom-made solutions to medical imaging problems can be also developed in partnership with commercial partners.

Current project grants

* Investigating retinal vasculopathy pre-COVID-19 as an independent risk factor predictive of sepsis in COVID-19. Principal investigator. Diabetes UK. 2021-2023.
* The Scottish Collaborative Optometry-Ophthalmology Network e-research (SCONe). Co-investigator. Multiple funders. 2020-2022. https://www.ed.ac.uk/clinical-sciences/ophthalmology/scone
* Uncovering retinal microvascular predictors of compromised brain haemodynamics in small vessel disease. Principal investigator. British Heart Foundation & The Alan Turing Institute: Cardiovascular Data Science Awards. 2020-2022.
* Novel Models for Haemodynamics and Transport in Complex Media: Towards Precision Healthcare for Placental Disorders. Co-investigator. EPSRC. 2020-2022.
* MyoChip: Building a 3D innervated and irrigated muscle on a chip. Co-investigator. Horizon 2020. 2018-2022. https://myochip.imm.medicina.ulisboa.pt/
* Arterial flow as attractor for endothelial cell migration – a new concept in vascular malformation and stroke regeneration (ATTRACT). Co-investigator. Leducq Foundation. 2018-2022. https://www.mdc-berlin.de/leducq-attract

Past project grants

* Automatic assimilation of particle velocimetry data into computational blood flow models. Principal investigator. EPSRC. 2018-2019
* Adding a resolved deformable particle model to a highly-parallel blood flow solver for sparse vascular networks. Principal investigator. EPSRC. 2014-2015

View all 31 publications on Research Explorer