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PhD Position: Boundary Lubrication of Fibrous Scaffolds

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

Four collaborative PhD positions are available at the Institute for Biomechanics (Department of Health Sciences and Technology). The Institute for Biomechanics is a multidisciplinary research unit dedicated to the biomechanical investigation of the human body. We investigate the mechanics and material properties of the musculoskeletal system, as well as movement control, from a macroscopic (body/organ) scale to a microscopic (cell) scale.

Project background

The available position is funded under the EU MSCA Innovative Training Network program "BioTrib". The overall aims of the research program are to develop advances in the performance of natural and artificial joints. The program's focus is on biotribology, which includes friction, lubrication and wear in these interventions. The researchers will gain the necessary interdisciplinary skills demanded by industry to deliver timely and cost-effective solutions to some of the most intractable European healthcare problems in arthritis.

Job description

The focus of this research sub-project is to explore boundary lubrication in synthetic scaffolds for tissue engineering. The production of lubricin (PRG4) in cell-seeded electrospun fibrous scaffolds under the influence of direct mechanical stimulation will be explored. The potential lubricating benefit of conjugating synthetic "bottle brush" lubricating polymers (e.g. cyclic polyoxazoline brushes) directly onto the surface of electrospun fibrous scaffolds will be evaluated. You will develop and validate various methods, e.g. functionalisation of the fibrous surface with the candidate polymers, determination of the surface properties of the biopolymer gels by micromechanical indentation testing, surface chemistry determination and micro-tribological measurement of surface friction. You will communicate the results of your research in peer-reviewed journal articles and at international conferences.

Your profile

You are required to have a master's degree in biomedical engineering, material science, or related relevant field. Also to have demonstrated experience with biomaterials applications, polymer chemistry, and methods for material and surface characterisation. Experience with cell and tissue culture methods would be advantageous.

Eligibility is set by the regulations of the MSCA ITN framework. Researchers can be of any nationality. They are required to undertake physical, transnational mobility (i.e. move from one country to another) when taking up their appointment. Therefore, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Switzerland for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. The position is available from August 2021.

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.
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We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • Covering letter with statement of motivation
  • CV
  • Copy of bachelor and master transcripts
  • Copy of MSc thesis

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about the Institute for Biomechanics can be found on our website Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Stephen Ferguson, email (no applications).

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