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Doctoral Position: Musculoskeletal Simulation of Subjects with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Doctoral Position: Musculoskeletal Simulation of Subjects with Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Institute for Biomechanics (IfB) is dedicated to the biomechanical and mechanobiological study of the human body across all scales, to investigate and characterise structural and functional properties of the musculoskeletal system. We develop, refine and utilise multidisciplinary tools and concepts to translate knowledge and techniques into clinical practice for musculoskeletal repair or regeneration.

Project background

The Institute for Biomechanics invites applications for a doctoral position, as part of a translational project investigating spine biomechanics with a focus on lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). This 4-year project will be carried out at the ETH Zurich in collaboration with the The Spine Research Group and the Functional Biomechanics Research group at the Department of Biomedical Engineering (DBE), University of Basel. The project aims to test the overall hypothesis that LSS affects spinal load and that this functional abnormality depends on anatomical, functional, physiological and biomechanical variations and therefore the severity of the disease. The doctoral candidate at ETH Zurich will be responsible for musculoskeletal simulations, based on existing models developed in-house, and processing data provided from in vivo movement biomechanics experiments conducted in Basel.

Job description

You will be responsible for conducting independent doctoral research on the topic of musculoskeletal biomechanics, with a focus on the lumbar spine. You will develop and apply multi-body dynamic simulation models for the determination of spinal loading in subjects with varying degrees of spinal pathology, for comparison with age-matched asymptomatic subjects. You will document and publish your research findings, towards the ultimate goal of the successful defence of your doctoral thesis.

Specific duties:

  • Develop and successfully defend an independent research plan for your doctoral studies
  • Develop, modify, validate and implement a multi-body dynamic simulation model of the human musculoskeletal system within the AnyBody simulation framework
  • Collaborate with project partners at the University of Basel for defining and implementing data import schemes from laboratory motion analysis experiments
  • Evaluate project-specific hypotheses on the relationship between spinal loading and the severity of lumbar spinal stenosis, in close collaboration with clinical partners
  • Publish your research results in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals
  • Advance the state of musculoskeletal simulation models by publishing your advances in a central public repository
  • Supervise bachelor and master student projects in the focus area of your doctoral research
  • (Potentially) contribute to teaching through tutorials on musculoskeletal simulation

Your profile

You are a highly motivated individual with a master’s or comparable degree in biomedical engineering or related discipline.

Essential expertise, skills and characteristics:

  • Excellent grades
  • Strong knowledge of (human) kinematics and kinetics
  • Programming and/or simulation experience
  • Ability to work in a multi-disciplinary team
  • Ability to work independently, with flexibility, humour and critical thinking
  • Excellent English language skills (comprehension, spoken and written)

Desirable expertise, skills and characteristics:

  • Knowledge of musculoskeletal biomechanics and motion analysis
  • Direct experience with AnyBody or OpenSim
  • Publication(s) in a peer-reviewed scienfitic journal or conference proceeding
  • Prior collaboration with clinicians
  • German language skills

We offer

The position will be part of a research project funded for 4 years by the Swiss National Science Foundation. We offer an international, multidisciplinary work environment with excellent research infrastructure and a strong collaborative interaction with our project partners. Compensation will be according to the guidelines of the Swiss National Science Foundation (www.snf.ch) and internal Institute for Biomechanics policy. The expected start date is June 1, 2022.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Covering letter with statement of motivation
  • CV
  • Copy of bachelor and master transcripts
  • Copy of MSc thesis

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.  Applications will be submitted until February 28, 2022.

Further information about the Institute for Biomechanics can be found on our website www.biomech.ethz.ch. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Stephen Ferguson, email sferguson@ethz.ch (no applications).

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.