PhD Rewire Program
About the job
ReWIRE is set up to equip next-generation scientists with unique skills to develop ground-breaking therapeutic solutions for patients with paralysis. The specific transdisciplinary and translational aspects will fill a gap in the traditional education programs and foster R&D competence in the field of medical products and therapies focused on spinal cord injury (SCI). The first objective is to establish an international, interdisciplinary, and intersectoral educational network that develops and links high-tech routes into new personalized, combinatorial approaches to rewire the spinal cord. The second objective is to build a clinical data platform for SCI. The third objective is to position Europe at the forefront of therapy for SCI. ReWIRE follows an international, interdisciplinary, and intersectoral approach organized in 8 and 7 interwoven work and training packages, respectively.
The training and research parts are focused on developing the next generation specialists and technologies in the European Research Area (ERA) to conform to the rapidly evolving technologies for individualized therapies to treat SCI. Specifically, ReWIRE aims to establish meaningful long-term and autonomous functional recovery by combining axonal regrowth and reconnection with new neuronal circuits, controlled by the brain and boosted by neuromodulation. The overall goal is to translate combinatorial SCI therapies from bench to bedside in a timely manner, thereby improving the quality of life and reducing societal burden. To regenerate the spinal cord, axons must be reactivated and stimulated, chemo-attracted, supported, and guided across the lesion site and into the spared tissue. Plasticity of spared connections must be generated in combination with functional new connections via the formation of terminal-like contacts, exhibiting synaptic markers and re-establishing electrophysiological conduction capacity across the lesion. The convergent approach will lead to combinatorial therapies to repair the spinal cord after injury, which, to date, has not been successful using individual therapies.
Partners of ReWIRE:
DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials (Aachen); Pepscan (Netherlands); Technische Universität Hamburg (Germany); Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands); ONWARD Medical (Netherlands); Clinatec (France); Scuola Superiore Sant’ Anna Pisa (Italy); Wearable Robotics (Italy); Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland), Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (Switzerland); Zürich University (Switzerland); Imperial College London (UK); King’s College London (UK)
Project Start: 1st January 2024
Country: Germany/Switzerland/The Netherlands. The position is based in the Netherlands, Germany (Aachen), and partially in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Company/ University Institute: ONWARD Medical (Eindhoven, Netherlands)/RWTH Aachen (Germany)
• Dr. Joachim v. Zitzewitz
• Prof. Heike Vallery
• Prof. Gregoire Courtine
The main objective is to introduce an efficient closed-loop system to enable accurate patient-volitional locomotion, linking movement intention from patients with Epidural Electrical Stimulation (EES) and assistive robotic technology (orthoses). Patients with less severe spinal cord injury (ASIA C/D) can convey their intention to initiate a step intuitively through the residual leg movements during locomotor training. Therefore, real-time gait detection methods based on wearable sensors that are tailored for those SCI patients will be developed/refined. For subjects with a more severe spinal cord injury (ASIA A/B) with complete loss of motor functions, algorithms using movements of the upper body and upper extremities will be developed to control stimulation and/or orthoses. Design adaptations of assistive robotic technology might be required. All new algorithms will be tested with humans suffering from spinal cord injury.
Expertise: Mechatronics, Mechanical/Electrical Engineer, Physics, Bioengineer/Biomedical Engineer.