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PhD position in inertial sensor-based movement analysis for personalized therapeutic interventions in patients with Parkinson’s disease

PhD position in inertial sensor-based movement analysis for personalized therapeutic interventions in patients with Parkinson’s disease

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Laboratory for Movement Biomechanics in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology of ETH Zurich is seeking a doctoral student for a project on personalized therapeutic interventions to improve gait and movement quality in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The position is fully funded by a recently awarded LOOP grant to Prof. Dr. Bill Taylor and the StimuLOOP research consortium.

Project background

About the lab:

The Laboratory for Movement Biomechanics and the Neuromuscular Biomechanics groupspecializes in the field of human movement science with approaches for assessing the quality of movement and functional performance. Our aim is to extract key information on an individual’s functional status and thereby lay the foundations for understanding and monitoring the degenerative changes that occur with musculoskeletal and neuromotor pathologies, but also the adaptation that results from ageing or rehabilitation. The development and validation of novel movement-based biomarkers has thereby enabled encompassing approaches to support clinical decision-making in the fields of gerontology, orthopaedics and neurology, but also opens perspectives on the objective assessment of both medical technologies and therapies alike.

About the project:

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is one of the most common neurological diseases in the elderly population and account for substantial disability and health care costs. Disability is largely driven by mobility deficits caused by impaired gait. Effective treatments to improve gait are available, but treatment response differs strongly between patients and often fails. This variability is caused by heterogeneity in disease and deficit phenotypes. Addressing this heterogeneity requires personalisation, a concept we refer to as precision neurorehabilitation.

With the StimuLOOP project, we want to introduce novel and highly personalized therapeutic interventions to improve gait and movement quality in PD patients, using state of the art technologies to provide real-time neurofeedback and enhance the consolidation of real-time learning through an innovative sleep intervention. Results from this project have strong implications for future research covering different deficits such as speech/language, cognition, arm function, and adaptive deep brain stimulation which will soon be technically possible and may be a major clinical improvement in Parkinson treatment.

Job description

We wish to recruit a PhD student to join our team and help us maximise the potential of our state-of-the-art wearable device (www.ZurichMOVE.com) and analytics for the comprehensive assessment of gait and movement characteristics in elderly subjects.

  1. Lead and support the data collection in the project through testing and trials
  2. Improve existing methods and develop new methods for the analysis of inertial-sensor data from both indoor movement tasks and real-world movement monitoring in both healthy and pathological populations.
  3. Contribute to the quantification of movement quality, in particular gait, to provide new and meaningful endpoints for clinical trials for personalizing therapeutic strategies in people with PD.
  4. Build machine learning and statistical models to extract gait signatures from movement patterns to associate an individual’s quality of movement with their underlying neural damage and resulting motor deficit.
  5. Supervise clinical measurements of movement using these technological developments in cohorts of PD subjects before and after neuro-rehabilitation therapy.

Your profile

Essential experience and characteristics:

  1. Experience with developing computational algorithms for inertial sensor-based movement analysis is necessary for this position.
  2. Good knowledge of statistics is required for quantitative reasoning and comparative analyses of cohort/subject specific data
  3. Proficient oral and written English skills (indicated by proven ability to write scientific papers and deliver conference presentations). Proficiency in German is considered a bonus. Strong inter-personal and communication skills are a pre-requisite.
  4. Experience with working in a biomechanics laboratory and handling motion capture systems, force plates, and processing software is a strong benefit, but not necessarily required.

The preferred starting date for this position is January 2022. The job will be located in and around Zürich, Switzerland.

Opportunities for personal growth:

  1. Grow your skills: the position entails working within a high-level scientific laboratory with strong colleagues, scientific collaborators, and clinical partners.
  2. Grow your academic career: mentor undergrad and grad students, grant writing, conference attendance and presentation, and network with experts within Zürich and worldwide.
  3. Switzerland is endowed with an extraordinary variety of natural landscape (mountains, lakes, and rivers) to switch off after work and build your skills outside workplace.

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 by 15th November 2021 including:

  1. A letter outlining your motivation to
    1. undertake a PhD
    2. apply for this specific position and how it aligns with your research interests / career goals
    3. join the Laboratory for Movement Biomechanics and ETH Zurich
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Complete academic record with undergraduate and graduate courses and grades
  4. Contact information of 2-3 potential referees

The selection committee will review all applications within 2-3 weeks after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.

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

Questions regarding the position should be directed by email to Mr. Deepak Ravi, deepak.ravi@hest.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.