University of Auckland New Zealand

The successful candidate will be expected to focus his/her research
around one or more of the following areas:-
(a) the structural disruption of the disc resulting from traumatic
(b) structural weakening associated with degeneration and prolapse,
(c) annular wall/vertebral endplate biomechanics.
A major experimental emphasis will involve the application of
differential interference contrast optical imaging and simultaneous
micromechanical techniques (together with TEM/SEM) in order to gain an
in-depth understanding of (i) how the collagen fibrils/fibers
interconnect both within and between the lamellae that comprise the disc
wall structure, (ii) the microanatomy of the annulus/endplate junction,
(iii) the influence of mechanical overloading of the disc on the
structural integrity of both the annular architecture and the
annulus/endplate connectivity, and (iv) the influence of degeneration on
these same structural regions.
The proposed study will build on the research groupís current progress
both in understanding the mechanics of disc loading and failure and in
visualising directly the primary structural interconnectivities
governing normal disc strength. The intention is to use these insights
and apply them directly to both discs with a history of prior mechanical
overloading/trauma and those with varying degrees of ageing and
degeneration. The study should increase our understanding of the
structural principles governing intervertebral disc weakening and prolapse.
The doctoral program is fully funded. This funding covers all PhD fees
and provides a generous living allowance of NZ$20,000/year for 3 years
which is tax-free.
It is open to international students who hold a degree qualification
equivalent to a bachelor with honours or masters degree at a level
deemed suitable by the Faculty of Engineering, University of Auckland.
Preferred applicants will be those with a background or strong interest
in biomaterials or bioengineering.

Further information can be obtained from
Associate Professor Neil Broom
Biomaterials Laboratory
Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
University of Auckland
Private bag 92019
Auckland, New Zealand
PH. 64 9 3737599 Ext. 88974 (messages ext. 88112)
Fax 64 9 3737463