Two PhD student positions in musculoskeletal biomechanics and imaging in Finland

Type of employment: PhD student, 4 years (2-4 positions, fully funded)

Host institution: University of Eastern Finland and/or University of Oulu

Funding: Biomedical Engineering and Medical Physics doctoral program, funded partly by the European Union and Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions and partly by the University.

Any eligible candidates (please see call for the doctoral program, http://www.uef.fi/en/web/biomep) are encouraged to contact Drs. Korhonen or Saarakkala below, with CV, for more information (before submitting an application).

Ultimate goal of the project 

 Investigate adaptation of knee joint tissues (articular cartilage, subchondral bone, menisci, ligaments) to abnormal loading and during the progression of osteoarthritis, develop and validate models of bone and cartilage adaptation to loading, and apply models in patient-specific knee joint geometries for the evaluation of the progression of osteoarthritis and for the investigation of the effects of treatments and operations.

Implementation 

Mechanical properties and structure of subchondral bone, cartilage, menisci and ligaments are determined and implemented in the biomechanical model of the knee joint. The model is validated against extensive experimental data, e.g. motion analysis and clinical imaging. The model with algorithms for cartilage and bone adaptation to loading will be validated against experimental data of the altered cartilage and bone properties and/or osteoarthritis grade (in vitro, in situ, humans in vivo). The effect of different tissue injuries (e.g ligament rupture, bone microcracks), treatments and operations (e.g. weight loss, ACL reconstruction) on osteoarthritis progression will be evaluated in animal models and patients.

PhD student position #1, experimental (University of Eastern Finland and/or University of Oulu) 

Conduct in vitro and/or in vivo experiments to follow up the progression of post-traumatic and spontaneous osteoarthritis. Determine time- and loading force-dependent mechanical properties and structure/composition of articular cartilage, bone, ligaments and menisci from normal (healthy) knees and osteoarthritic knees using mechanical testing, microscopy, spectroscopy and biochemical analysis. One of the aims is to investigate osteoarthritic changes at the cartilage-bone interface, including microcracks in calcified cartilage and subchondral bone. Mechanical data of soft tissues is analyzed using fibril reinforced poroviscoelastic modeling and structure-function relationships are determined. For in vivo studies, clinical imaging and motion analysis data of patients is collected and analyzed. This data is later used for model validation and input.

PhD student position #2, computational (University of Eastern Finland) 

Evaluate the importance of realistic bone and soft tissue properties in the models of knee joints on cartilage and chondrocyte responses. Combine musculoskeletal and finite element models, and develop and validate computational models of the knee joint with adaptive properties of articular cartilage and bone. Predict the effect of abnormal loading, as well as cartilage lesions and bone microcracks, on altered cartilage and bone properties during the progression of osteoarthritis. Aforementioned experimental data (in vitro experiments, animal models, patients) is used for model validation.

Requirements 

We are looking for highly motivated candidates with the background in one or several of the following or related disciplines; biomedical engineering, biomechanics, medical physics, mechanical engineering, or related field. For the PhD student position #2, good modeling skills and experience in the use of Abaqus or FEBio and user materials are advantages. All studies will be conducted in close collaboration with the groups’ post-doc fellows and other collaborators. Therefore, good collaborative attitude is needed in both positions.

Specific requirements by the European Union (http://www.uef.fi/en/web/biomep/eligibility-requirements

The successful candidates should be eligible to be admitted to the doctoral program and has the following qualifications:

 MSc degree (or close to graduating) in biomedical engineering, medical physics, mechanical engineering, or other relevant field. Less than 4 years of research experience, as measured from the date of the MSc degree.

 The mobility rule of the EU funded doctoral program require that a PhD student cannot have resided for more than 12 months over the past 3 years in the country where he/she applies to.

Collaboration 

The research projects include both national and international collaboration and mobility with several internationally recognized research groups in their own field.

Primary supervisors 

Professor Rami Korhonen (rami.korhonen@uef.fi, http://luotain.uef.fi/?n=group&g=rami_korhonen).

Associate Professor Simo Saarakkala (simo.saarakkala@oulu.fi, http://www.mipt-oulu.fi/simo_saarakkala)

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