08-04-2008, 10:01 AM
Please note: All applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, must have graduated from an accredited U.S. college or university with a bachelor's degree, and must begin training within two years of receipt of the undergraduate degree.



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 (http://www.training.nih.gov/student/Pre-IRTA/irtamanualpostbac.asp). Please contact Dr. Sheehan with a CV and statement of research interests.

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 pathologies.

*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

IRTA guidelines:

To be eligible to apply for this program, candidates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, must have graduated from an accredited U.S. college or university with a bachelor's degree, and must begin training within two years of receipt of the undergraduate degree. In addition, during their tenure in the program Postbaccalaureate IRTAs are expected to initiate the application process for graduate or medical school. (The program is also open to individuals who have been accepted into graduate or medical degree programs and who have written permission from the school to defer matriculation for up to one year.) The duration of the program is normally one year; it can be extended for one additional year depending on satisfactory trainee performance and continued availability of funds

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