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PhD Position in Musculoskeletal Modeling at the ETH Zurich

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  • PhD Position in Musculoskeletal Modeling at the ETH Zurich

    Osteoporosis affects an estimated 75 million people in Europe, USA and Japan. 30-50% of women and 15-30% of men will suffer a fracture related to osteoporosis in their lifetime, of which the majority are spinal fractures. Fracture risk is influenced by a variety of factors, principally the local bone density and microarchitectural deterioration. Most recently, studies have indicated that spinal deformities related to the progression of osteoporotic fractures (hyperkyposis) may have a dramatic influence on spinal loading, and thereby on fracture risk. This situation is compounded by an inevitable consequence of aging, the decline of muscle mass, generally known as sarcopenia (0.5 – 1.0% per year after the age of 25). Loss of muscle volume and, and therefore the ability to energize and stabilize the spine, likely compromises the ability of an individual to maintain a biomechanically optimal posture during daily activities.

    Applicants are invited for a PhD studentship at the Institute for Biomechanics of the ETH Zurich. In collaboration with the University of Bern, we aim to characterize and quantify the changes in muscle volume, area and composition through analysis of MR images from young and elderly patient groups. Your project will focus on using this basic information on muscle adaptation with age, together with information about typical age-related postural changes, as the input data for the modification of an established musculoskeletal simulation model. The adapted model will allow the prediction of skeletal loads for a variety of “typical” elderly subjects during activities of daily living. Further data for the model will be derived from motion measurements of subjects during the performance of reference activities. The model will be used to predict vertebral loading (and overloading), and the effect of postural deterioration and loss of muscle strength. Finally, the model will be employed to evaluate the potential benefit of targeted muscle strengthening exercise or functional bracing of the torso for decreasing vertebral loads, and thereby lowering fracture risk.

    The position is available immediately. Candidates with an MSc or equivalent in Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, or a closely related field should apply. Experience with any of the following would be a distinct advantage: motion capture and force measurement equipment, Labview, CAD and simulation software (Anybody) and image analysis. Knowledge of the German language is not required but would be advantageous. Funding is available for three years.

    Interested candidates should send their resumes with the names of two references and university transcripts by e-mail to:

    Prof. Stephen Ferguson
    ETH Zurich
    Institute for Biomechanics, HCI E355.2
    Wolfgang-Pauli-Strasse 10
    CH-8093 Zurich