ESB Mobility Award Winners – 2020

Morteza Rasouligandomani

Morteza started as a PhD student at BCN MedTech group, Department of Information and Communication Technologies at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, in 2018. He holds a MSc in Aero-Structural Engineering from Sharif University of Technology; a highly competitive university in mechanical and aerospace engineering in Iran and well-known internationally. His objective was to embrace a long-term academic carrier in biomechanics and computational methods. After his graduation, Morteza started his PhD in BCN MedTech group under the supervision of Prof. Jérôme Noailly on the computational spine biomechanics and Adult Spine Deformity (ASD). Specifically, the goal is to develop spine subject-specific finite element model to understand ASD and post-surgery mechanical complications such as proximal junctional failure (PJF). Through statistical shape and finite element modelling of the full spine, this work is paving the way to build unique tools for advanced surgical planning.

Planned Research Project

Spine 3D Patient-Specific Finite Element Models to Understand Proximal Junction Failure in Post Orthopedic Spine Surgery

Thanks to the ESB Mobility Award for Young Researchers Morteza will travel to the Polytechnique University of Milan in Italy for 3 months, working with Prof. Tomaso Villa and Dr. Luigi La Barbera, laboratory of biological structure mechanics.

The goal of the research stay is developing full spine instrumented FEM model which will be used to achieve FEM simulations for the full patient cohort and acquiring biomechanical descriptors which lead to PJF. To achieve this, screws will be inserted in pedicle and also including laminar and transverse process hooks and cages. Then screw insertion point, screw inclination, hook implementing procedure to the vertebras and cage location inside the intervertebral disc by an individual expert will be validated and eventually, effects of rod shape (i.e., cross section), mismatch between the proximal rod profile and spine curvature and exploring the effect of different densities of hardware using patient-specific FEM model will be investigated.


Joeri Kok

Joeri Kok started as a PhD student at the department of Biomedical Engineering at Lund University, Sweden, in 2017. He obtained a Bachelor in Biomedical Engineering and a Master in Medical Engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology. After his graduation, Joeri started his PhD in the Biomechanics group under the supervision of Prof. Hanna Isaksson on the prediction of subject-specific risk on a hip fracture. Specifically, the goal is to further develop and validate a subject-specific finite element model of the proximal femur to accurately predict its mechanical behaviour under a fall loading condition. Mechanical tests including bilateral digital image correlation of the femoral neck are used for validation of these models.

Planned Research Project

Finite element modelling of localized strains in the human femoral neck

Thanks to the ESB Mobility Award for Young Researchers Joeri will travel to the Tel-Aviv University in Israel. During two months, he will be working with Prof. Zohar Yosibash.

The goal of the research stay is to develop an FE-model that can accurately predict the strains around vessel holes in the femoral neck. To achieve this, first a high-resolution FE-model, based on μCT images, will be developed. Second, the ability of a high-order polynomial FE-model to accurately predict strains, fracture location and force in of a femur under fall loading will be explored. It is hypothesised that with the newly gained knowledge it will be possible to develop a mixed high-resolution high-order polynomial FE-model of the proximal femur.


Míriam Febrer Nafría

Míriam is PhD Student and Part-time Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona (Spain). She received her Master’s Degrees in Industrial Engineering (2014) and Biomedical Engineering (2016) from UPC. She joined the BIOMEC Lab to work in the HIPART project coordinating a clinical study with patients who underwent total hip arthroplasty. She is currently developing her PhD on the prediction of human movement using optimal control techniques, with the aim of personalising the controller of a knee-ankle-foot orthosis for spinal cord-injured subjects. From January to June 2018, she did a predoctoral research stay at the Rice Computational Neuromechanics Lab, where she learned about prediction using subject-specific models.

Planned Research Project

To investigate the role of co-contraction on knee joint contact forces

Thanks to the ESB Mobility Award for Young Researchers Míriam will travel to the Laboratory for Movement Biomechanics at ETH Zürich, Switzerland. During six months, she will be working with Prof. Dr. Bill Taylor and Dr. Colin Smith. The main objective of this project is to use novel musculoskeletal modelling techniques to investigate the role of co-contraction on knee joint contact forces after total knee replacement (TKR). The project intends to investigate the fundamental biomechanics problem of muscle redundancy, provide a better understanding of the effect of impaired muscle function following TKR on knee joint loading and kinematics, and ultimately provide insights to improve post-operative rehabilitation protocols to best restore knee function.


Maria Pastrama

Maria Pastrama holds a PhD from the Vienna University of Technology, has been a postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven, and since November 2018 is a postdoctoral researcher at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Her research blends computational and experimental methods to study cartilage and bone mechanics and understand mechanical requirements for biomaterials replacing these tissues. She has recently expanded her research interests to ultrasound imaging of cartilage and currently holds a Marie Curie EuroTech personal fellowship, entitled Integration with Native Tissue and Enhanced Regeneration using a highly adhesive hydrogel For Articular Cartilage: Evaluation with UltraSound imaging (INTERFACE US). The aim of the project is to develop a method for progressive non-destructive monitoring of the biomechanical integration of a recently designed tissue regeneration hydrogel with the adjacent cartilage and bone in cartilage defect repair, using multi-parametric ultrasound-based imaging.

Planned research project

Optimization of hydrogel seeding with chondrocytes and evaluation of initial material performance and integration in chondral defects.

Thanks to the ESB Mobility Award for Young Researchers, Maria will travel for 3 months to the Laboratory of Biomechanical Orthopedics at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, where she will work together with Prof. Dominique Pioletti and his team. The goal of her research stay is to optimize the seeding of a highly adhesive hydrogel recently developed at EPFL with chondrocytes. Furthermore, she will investigate initial material performance and integration with native tissues by filling chondral defects created in bovine osteochondral plugs with the chondrocyte-seeded hydrogel.