Application deadline 15 May 2019
The Doctorate in Health and Technology is an interdisciplinary 3-year program, where each PhD student has a supervisor from the technical area (engineering, chemistry etc) and one from the clinical or biological area: www.unibo.it/en/teaching/phd/2019-2020/health-and-technologies
The objective of the interdepartmental Doctoral Programme in Health Sciences and Technologies is to train the next generation of leaders in industrial, clinical, and academic research. The goal is to develop an organic research programme at the interface between engineering and medicine, which is inspired by the quantitative and integrative approach of physical sciences, and by the latest development in biomedical research, drive the development and clinical translation of disruptive health technologies.
The doctoral training programme will prepare students in conducting research which:
PhD PROJECT #1: Electrospun scaffolds for the regeneration of tendons and ligaments
Degenerative or traumatic lesions of tendons and ligaments are difficult to repair. Post-operative failures affect between 15% and 40% of cases (depending on initial indications). University of Bologna developed a prototype of an electrospun scaffold replicating the hierarchical morphology and the mechanical properties of tendons and ligaments. This PhD project will further develop the prototype by increasing the bioactivity and enhance the integration of the constituent material with the surrounding tissues, and will bring this technical solution towards clinical application. The following aspects will be investigated: optimization of the polymeric biomaterial and its functionalization to improve cell adhesion, recruiting and differentiation and to prevent inflammatory response, optimal technique for effective sterilization; means of surgical attachment to the host tissue. The collaboration between the technical area (engineering and chemistry) with the clinical counterpart (orthopaedic surgery) will be a key point of this project.
PhD PROJECT #2: Patient-Specific Spinal Surgery for Severe Scoliosis (PS5)
Scoliosis can be extremely threatening: pain, disability, compression of internal organs, breathing problems are just some of the consequences. In the most severe cases, corrective spinal surgery is the only viable option. In young and growing patients, adjustable devices must be used, that are mobilized over the months to correct the spine and follow the patient’s growth. One main challenge for the clinical specialist is to choose the optimal treatment for each patient, for example how to plan the right amount of adjustment over time, so as to achieve the desired correction while avoiding complications and adverse effects. Currently, surgeons are guided only by intuition and experience. The aim of this PhD project is to develop and validate a modelling technology capable of generating patient-specific predictive models of the spine biomechanics that can be used as a treatment planning tools, by simulating different treatment options and predict the occurrence of adverse effects including spinal cord compression, facets impingement, excessive strain of the intervertebral discs, excessive stretch of the muscles.
PhD PROJECT #3: Innovative technique to repair osteoporotic fractures with bone substitutes
The second most common site for traumatic fracture in the elderly is the upper limb (proximal humerus and distal radius). Reconstruction of these fractures is currently performed with plates and screws. In both cases, healing failures (mainly pseudo-arthrosis) derive from lack of stabilization of the bone fragments, which is particularly frequent in case of poor bone quality and osteoporotic defects. As the current technique is dissatisfactory (adding more screws would not solve the problem) a different approach will be explored. A bone substitute will be used in combination or in replacement of plates and screws. This PhD project consists of three main actions: (i) biomechanical testing of different reconstruction techniques to identify the optimal ones; (ii) definition of surgical guidelines based on ex vivo fluoroscopic imaging (similar to the foreseen surgical protocol), in relation to biomechanical performance; (iii) definition and following of clinical trial on selected fracture cases. This project originated from the clinical problem encountered by orthopaedic surgeons, will require significant input from the technical area, and will rely on collaboration with a biomedical company.
Full details on the different projects and indications on how to apply can be found here.