08-04-2008, 06:17 AM


The Virtual Functional Anatomy initiative at the National Institutes of
Health is actively seeking a highly motivated student for a one-year
research training position in musculoskeletal biomechanics (September
2008 - August 2009). The successful candidate will have a bachelor's
degree in engineering (biomedical or mechanical) or a related field with
an interest in conducting research as a part of a multidisciplinary
team. The position will be under an Intramural Research Training Award
(IRTA), and salary will be commensurate with IRTA guidelines
Please contact Dr. Sheehan with a CV and statement of research

A. Project Summary

Patellofemoral (PF) pain is widely accepted as one of the most common
pathologies involving the knee, reported to affect approximately 25% of
the population, yet the etiology of this pain is still an open debate.
It is most commonly thought that patellar malalignment results in
elevated joint contact stresses, which ultimately results in pain. Our
ongoing study has quantified key alterations in knee joint dynamics
within a population of patients with patellar maltracking, using the
tools developed under the Virtual Functional Anatomy (VFA) initiative*.
Although clear alterations in knee joint kinematics have been
identified, these patterns tend to be highly variable across the
population. Thus, the focus of this IRTA project is to take these data
to the next level by investigating issues surrounding knee joint
kinematics, bone shape and cartilage properties.

This project will require the student to work with the entire Virtual
Functional Anatomy team*, composed of engineers, physical therapists, MR
specialist and physicians, to 1) learn the basics of MRI 2) develop a
proficiency in acquiring both static and dynamic MR images 3) learn MR
image analysis tools and create new ones that will enable the
measurement of key knee joint cartilage contact. Besides learning the
scientific process through hands on research, a goal for this work is
for the student to develop the project to the point that an abstract can
be submitted to either a national or international conference. If time
or interest permits there is a possibility of exploring other

*The overall goal of VFA is to improve the lives of people by developing
engineering-based tools to improve our knowledge of basic
musculoskeletal system capabilities and the mechanisms of injury,
physical disabilities and the process of functional recovery. The core
of the VFA project is fast-PC MRI, an MR based imaging sequence that
allows for the capture of both anatomical images and velocity data while
a subject is moving within the magnet.

DHHS and NIH are Equal Opportunity Employers

Sponsoring Lab: Virtual Functional Anatomy Initiative, Rehabilitation
Medicine Department

Mentor: Frances T. Sheehan, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Email: fsheehan@cc.nih.gov

Phone: 301-452-7585

Fax: 301-452-7536

Frances T (Sheehan) Gavelli

Principle Investigator / Research Engineer

National Institutes of Health

Physical Disabilities Branch*

Bldg 10 CRC, Rm 1-1469

10 Center Drive MSC 1604

Bethesda, MD 20892-1604

Phone: (301) 451-7585

Fax: (301) 451-7536