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PhD Student Position: Patient-Specific FE Model of Scoliosis

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  • PhD Student Position: Patient-Specific FE Model of Scoliosis

    Applications are invited for a Ph.D. Studentship in the Computational Bioengineering Group at the Institute for Surgical Technology and Biomechanics, University of Bern ( The PhD position is available for an exciting multidisciplinary project merging the fields of medical imaging, computer vision, computational biomechanics and orthopaedic surgical techniques. The project will have both theoretical and applied research, and it will be performed in close collaboration with the Orthopaedic Department, Universitäts-Kinderspital beider Basel (UKBB) of the University of Basel (

    Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis is a relatively common disorder, which manifests itself as large lateral deviation of the spine. The condition becomes debilitating even in the early teens and may require major corrective surgery. Principled treatment modalities have not evolved much over the last decades, since they still include rigid braces for moderate, 20-40° curves and long bony fusions for significant curves. It is vital that the surgeon corrects the appropriate vertebral levels by the optimal amount to ensure a safe surgery as well as good postoperative result. However, little is known about the complex functional behavior and stiffness of the normal and degenerated spinal segment under physiological loading conditions, because the existing studies focused solely on the spinal kinematics without considering mechanical loads.

    In this project, your role will be to develop new methods to predict the segmental stiffness of the spine from pre-operative images. The approach will combine in- vivo measurements and integrated this information with finite element models to simulate patient-specific spine biomechanics. The main challenge of the project is to fuse advanced imaging techniques with biomechanical models to estimate the mechanical properties of each patient. This project will be supported by top surgeons in the area. The candidate must have strong communication skills, be willing to work in the OR with the surgeons, and the ability to combine basic research activities with the needs on clinicians.

    We are looking for a motivated, proactive person with a background in computer science, biomedical engineering, physics or other related field. Experience with any of the following would be a distinct advantage:
    - Good background in general engineering mathematics
    - Finite element analysis
    - Experience with development and engineering in 3D medical imaging Solid programming skills in C/C++
    - Experience working in a multidisciplinary environment
    - Excellent communication skills