2 PhD positions in Upper Limb Movement Monitoring and Rehabilitation

Application deadline:

"Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial, CSIC-UPC and Centre de Recerca en Enginyeria Biomédica (CREB, UPC) are seeking candidates for two PhD Student positions for the project ""ArmTracker: A state-of-the-art wearable system to assess upper limb motor function in real-life conditions for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy""

PhD students will be supervised by Prof. Carme Torras and Prof. Josep Maria Font-Llagunes.

Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) are two rare genetic conditions with onset in early childhood and characterized, until very recently, by progressive and devastating muscle weakness that led to inability or loss of ambulation, dependence, and premature death. Fortunately, recent unprecedented advances in gene therapy have opened a new era for DMD and SMA patients, substantially modifying the natural history of these disorders. In spite of this exciting context, the development of tools and methodologies used to evaluate and measure the response to these new therapies has not been proportional: motor function monitoring of DMD and SMA patients is still challenging, being restricted to the use of motor functional scales in an artificial environment. Sensitively measuring the motor function of DMD and SMA patients in real-life conditions is increasingly required in order to properly assess the patients’ baseline condition and their response to the new high-priced therapies.

The purposes of the ArmTracker project are 1) refining a wearable sensing system that can gather continuous measurements on arm kinematics and 2) determining its feasibility to assess, in real-life conditions, the upper limb function of patients with DMD and SMA. Measured data will be analyzed applying machine learning methods. The correlations between clinical data, traditional motor function scales and the ArmTracker movement parameters will be analyzed. This project is funded by La Marató de TV3 and the consortium is composed by the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu, the Centre de Recerca en Enginyeria Biomèdica (CREB) at UPC, and the Institut de Robòtica i Informàtica Industrial (IRI) of CSIC-UPC.

You will be involved in research and development tasks related to the project. Your tasks will include:
• Definition of technical and functional requirements of the monitoring device.
• Selection of sensors, microcontroller and battery.
• Design and development of the monitoring device.
• Design of machine learning algorithms to classify movement assessment metrics.
• Development of a software tool for storing data and provide relevant feedback
• Development of pilot studies with healthy participants and pediatric patients.
• Participating in a clinical study with DMD and SMA patients.
• Publishing scientific papers as part of the PhD thesis.
• Mentoring Master’s and PhD students working on related topics.

• A three-year fully-funded PhD scholarship.
• Outstanding research and innovation ecosystem within the three project partners.
• Access to fully-equipped Motion Analysis Laboratory and Robotics Laboratory.
• Living in Barcelona, a modern city with a lot of opportunities for innovation in the HealthTech sector.
• Fun work atmosphere with social events

The successful candidates will ideally start on July 15th, 2021 or as soon as possible after that date."