One or more PhD Stipends within knee osteoarthritis research (915-21069) hos Aalborg Universitet


At the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Department of Materials and Production one or more PhD stipend(s) are available within the MathKOA project (Predictive, multiscale, multifactorial Mathematical modeling of Knee OsteoArthritis) funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation under the Challenge Program on Mathematical Modeling of Health and Disease. The stipend(s) are open for appointment from 1 January 2022 or soon hereafter. Department of Materials and Production (MP) has a wide-ranging research and educational environment at Aalborg University. The Department's mission is to meet the future's demands for new materials and production systems by directing the whole value chain from basic material understanding, materials' applications in mechanical constructions, industrial production and management. The department has several strong, international and innovative research groups which comprise everything from basic science to strategic and applicable research. The activities encompass research as well as education within materials, mechanics, physics, production technique, and industrial management and innovation. Benefitting the industry and additional collaborators several innovative and unconventional collaborations have been and are developed through interdisciplinary co-operations. Thereby, as an employee at the Department you will become a part of an international research environment, where focus is on innovation, knowledge sharing/building and interdisciplinary collaborations.

Job description


The MathKOA research project
Osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide1 with pain and reduced function as hallmark symptoms. OA can currently not be cured, and the available treatments are focused on improving symptoms. OA is a multi-scale and multi-factorial degenerative joint disease with knee OA (KOA) being the most frequent. Biomechanical factors play an important role in maintaining joint homeostasis and several early KOA interventions are aimed at altering the body-level biomechanics to reduce joint degeneration that occurs largely due to changes at the cell level. However, the relationship between levels, i.e. body, joint, tissue and cell, and its relationship to pain response, is currently poorly understood.
To tackle this challenge, we are bringing together mathematical modeling experts, whose combined expertise cover multi-scale modelling, including mechanobiology and experimental tissue characterization of bone, cartilage and tendons, with the world's leading scientist in pain mechanisms in KOA to establish the first comprehensive predictive model of KOA, capturing also the interaction between loading and pain. In addition to a fundamental understanding, the mathematical model also enables personalized treatments based on the prediction of expected outcome.
Initially, we will develop in vivo measurement techniques and perform in vitro and ex vivo experiments to obtain model inputs. Hereafter, mathematical models of the body, joint, tissue and cell levels are researched and coupled to a pain response model to enable investigations of the relationship between KOA interventions and the multi-scale response. Rigorous validation is performed to evaluate the accuracy of the sub-level models as well as the predictive capabilities of the multi-scale model in a cohort study initiated during the project. Finally, the predictive capabilities of the model are applied to design novel, personalized KOA interventions with the ultimate goal to improve patient care.
MathKOA is a multi-national research project comprising partners from Aalborg University, University of Eastern Finland and Lund University and additional collaborators from Aalborg University Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology that has received 50 mio DKK in funding from the Novo Nordisk foundation. The success applicant(s) will, therefore, have a unique opportunity to join a large and highly ambitious project within Mathematical modeling of KOA.
The PhD project(s)
Within the general scope of the MathKOA project as outlined above one or more PhD scholarships are available at Aalborg University. Four overall research topics are available, for which the applicants must indicate which (could be one or more topics) they want to be considered for. This must be included in the project description that the applicants must upload as part of the application. For all four overall topics the following required qualifications apply:
Required qualifications
  • You are a highly motivated individual who is able to work in a team and who is prepared to stay with other project partners for extended periods of time.
  • You have a master in mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, robotics, or equivalent.
  • You have to be fluent in English both oral and written.

Moreover, within each of the four research topics, additional required as well as desired qualifications are listed.

Research topic 1: Modeling of knee joint stability from novel 3D stability measurements.

The purpose of this research topic is create patient-specific knee models, capturing the 3D knee stability profile of individual KOA patients. To this end, the research will also include development of a novel robotics- and ultrasound-based 3D knee stability measurement technology and apply it to quantify the full 3D stability profile of KOA patients. This information is subsequently converted to a patient-specific computational model of the knee. This will leverage previous and ongoing research at Aalborg University within 3D stability measurement technology.
Required qualifications
  • You have experience in mechanical design, software programming (Matlab and Labview) and signal processing.

Desired qualifications
  • You have experience designing mechanical systems with a human interface.
  • You have experiences with performing experiments on humans.
  • You have experiences with control algorithms of electromechanical systems.
  • You have experiences with ultrasound data acquisition.
  • You have experiences with knee modeling (either through multi-body approaches, e.g. AnyBody Modeling system, OpenSim etc. or finite element modeling with e.g. Abaqus, Ansys, OpenFE etc.)


Research topic 2: Modeling of cartilage and meniscus properties from novel Medical Resonance Imaging (MRI)-based measurements

The purpose of this research topic is to create patient-specific knee models, capturing the mechanical properties of cartilage and meniscus in vivo. To this end, the research will also include development of a MRI-compatible loading device to obtain loaded and unloaded MRI images from which to identify the cartilage and meniscus strain under the specific load. This information is subsequently converted to a patient-specific computational model of the knee and used to identify differences in healthy and KOA cartilage and meniscus properties.
Required qualifications
  • You have experience in mechanical design, software programming (ideally Matlab and Labview) and signal processing.

Desired qualifications
  • You have experience designing mechanical systems with a human interface.
  • You have experiences with performing experiments on humans.
  • You have experiences with knee modeling (either through multi-body approaches, e.g. AnyBody Modeling system, OpenSim etc. or finite element with e.g. Abaqus, Ansys, OpenFE etc.)


Research topic 3: Template-based MRI segmentation for multi-scale modeling

The purpose of this research topic is create novel MRI segmentation algorithms to extract bone, cartilage and ligament information from MRI images of healthy and KOA patients to be applied for patient-specific computational modeling. This research will explore template-based approaches to reduce (or ideally fully remove) time consuming, manual tasks when segmenting medical images with a focus on creating seamless interfaces to patient-specific computational models of the lower extremity.
Required qualifications
  • Software programming experiences (e.g. C, C++, Python and/or Matlab).

Desired qualifications
  • You have experience with manual and/or (semi) automatic segmentation of medical images.
  • You have experiences with performing experiments on humans.
  • You have experiences with modeling of the musculoskeletal system (either through multi-body approaches, e.g. AnyBody Modeling system, OpenSim etc. or finite element with e.g. Abaqus, Ansys, OpenFE etc.)


Research topic 4:
Predictive, patient-specific computational models capturing the effects of disease progression.
The purpose of this research topic is to create computationally efficient algorithms to predict the movement pattern of KOA patients capturing how the movements are affected by alterations in the mechanical properties of the structures of the knee, e.g. cartilage loss (leading to instability) joint instability, bone formation etc and pain.
Required qualifications
  • Software programming experiences (e.g. C, C++, Python and/or Matlab).
  • You have extensive experiences with setting up and solving differential equations for physical systems (e.g. with forward dynamics, direct collocation or similar).

Desired qualifications
  • You have experience with multibody dynamics modeling
  • You have experiences with solving optimization problems
  • You have experiences with modeling of the musculoskeletal system (either through multi-body approaches, e.g. AnyBody Modeling system, OpenSim etc. or finite element with e.g. Abaqus, Ansys, OpenFE etc.)

You may obtain further information from Associate Professor Michael Skipper Andersen, phone: +45 30354170, e-mail: concerning the scientific aspects of the stipend(s).
PhD stipends are allocated to individuals who hold a Master's degree. PhD stipends are normally for a period of 3 years. It is a prerequisite for allocation of the stipend that the candidate will be enrolled as a PhD student at the Doctoral School of Engineering and Science in accordance with the regulations of Ministerial Order No. 1039 of August 27, 2013 on the PhD Programme at the Universities and Certain Higher Artistic Educational Institutions. According to the Ministerial Order, the progress of the PhD student shall be assessed at regular points in time.
Shortlisting will be applied. This means that subsequent to the deadline for applications the head of department supported by the chair of the assessment committee will select candidates for assessment. All applicants will be informed whether they will be assessed or not.
For further information about stipends and salary as well as practical issues concerning the application procedure contact Ms. Ruth Klitte, The Doctoral School at The Faculty of Engineering and Science, email:
For more information of The Doctoral School of Engineering and Science:
The application is only to be submitted online by using the "Apply online" button below.
AAU wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background or belief.

Agreement

Appointment and salary as a PhD fellow are according to the Ministry of Finance Circular of 28 June 2019 on the Collective Agreement for Academics in Denmark, Appendix 5, regarding PhD fellows, and with the current Circular of 11 December 2019 on the employment structure at Danish universities.

Vacancy number

915-21069

Deadline

Thu Sep 30 00:00:00 CEST 2021

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