Lund University, Faculty of Engineering, Biomedical engineering

Lund University was founded in 1666 and is repeatedly ranked among the world’s top 100 universities. The University has around 44 000 students and more than 8 000 staff based in Lund, Helsingborg and Malmö. We are united in our efforts to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition.

Lund University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

Subject description

Neutron scattering from soft musculoskeletal tissues for studying structural and mechanical changes due to osteoarthritis

Description of environment:
The research in the biomechanics group is focused on understanding the link between mechanics and biology in the musculoskeletal system, including related pathologies and repair of skeletal tissues. Experimental tissue characterisation methods, imaging and computational simulation techniques are used. The research is applied on direct problems in orthopaedics to develop better methods to understand and improve repair of musculoskeletal tissues.

Description of project:
Soft musculoskeletal tissues such as joint cartilage, meniscus, ligaments, and tendons connect or transmit forces during movement of the joints in the body, e.g., in the knee. Despite having specialized mechanical functions and tailored microstructures, they have a similar gross composition that includes a collagen network, small amounts of proteoglycans, and an extensive amount of water (60-80%). Characterization of structural and mechanical properties are fundamental for understanding how tissues adapt, and change from a healthy to a diseased state, but also to promote development of new biomaterials and tissue regeneration strategies.

Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disease, affecting over 40 million Europeans leading to pain, disability and social isolation. This project combines physics, engineering and medicine, to evaluate how neutron scattering can increase our understanding of the structural and mechanical response during different developmental stages of osteoarthritis. It will explore if alterations in soft tissue nano- and microstructure can be detected with neutron scattering and tomographic imaging techniques, and focus on the impact of such alterations on mechanical properties, as well as on fluid distribution and fluid movement in response to loading. This will yield new knowledge about the osteoarthritis disease processes. 

X-ray based methods are state-of-the-art for most musculoskeletal tissues, both in clinical practice and in high-end research. However, for soft tissues, X-rays can only detect gross-changes. In this proposal we hope to overcome some of these limitation by exploring the use of neutron scattering techniques, as neutrons are highly sensitive to light elements, such as hydrogen which is abundant in soft tissues.

The specific aims are to:

1) Develop and evaluate the use of neutron-based techniques as new possibilities for visualizing and quantifying new parameters of the different stages of osteoarthritis disease progression in soft tissues in the human knee, which are otherwise challenging to visualize. Evaluation of the potential includes comparing with state-of-the-art X-rays.

2) Overcome the technical challenges to study these soft tissues under in situ loading, to improve the understanding on water distribution and re-distribution during loading.

The project includes designing and carry out experiments at large scale facilities, followed by data analysis. The analysis involves using image correlation techniques to follow the deformation of the tissue and/or the fluid flow during loading, and to link the different length scales of the tissue to each other.

The project is a part of SwedNESS, the national graduate school for Neutron research. The graduate school aims at strengthening Sweden’s long-term competence and competitiveness within the area of neutron science by providing its students with research training and a foundation for networking. Please see link for more information


Work duties

The main duties of doctoral students are to devote themselves to their research studies which includes participating in research projects and third cycle courses. The work duties can also include teaching and other departmental duties (no more than 20%).

Detailed description of the work duties, such as:

  • The research involves experimental design, mechanical testing, tomographic imaging, and analysis of data, including the use of image correlation techniques.
  • The doctoral student is expected to assist in supervision of MSc degree projects.
  • The project is a collaboration with Clinical Epidemiology Unit, at LU ( and the doctoral student is expected to interact with this group.
  • The doctoral student is required to take part in the activities arranged by the SwedNESS graduate school.

Admission requirements

A person meets the general admission requirements for third-cycle courses and study programmes if he or she:

  • has been awarded a second-cycle qualification, or
  • has satisfied the requirements for courses comprising at least 240 credits of which at least 60 credits were awarded in the second cycle, or
  • has acquired substantially equivalent knowledge in some other way in Sweden or abroad.

A person meets the specific admission requirements for third cycle studies in Biomedical Engineering if he or she has:

  • at least 45 higher education credits at advanced level with relevance to the subject area

Additional requirements:

  • Very good oral and written proficiency in English.
  • The candidate should have a background in (bio)engineering/ physics/material science or similar.

The candidate should be able to independently drive his/her own research project, as well as writing scientific publications. The candidate should be able to supervise younger researchers.

Assessment criteria

Selection for third-cycle studies is based on the student’s potential to profit from such studies. The assessment of potential is made primarily on the basis of academic results from the first and second cycle. Special attention is paid to the following:

Knowledge and skills relevant to the thesis project and the subject of study. An assessment of ability to work independently and to formulate and tackle research problems. Written and oral communication skills Other experience relevant to the third-cycle studies, e.g. professional experience.

Other assessment criteria:

  • Experience from material science is considered positive.
  • Experience with tomographic imaging and image analysis is considered positive.
  • Experience from synchrotron or neutron facilities is considered positive.
  • Knowledge about biomechanics is considered positive.
  • Very good knowledge in data analysis in e.g. matlab is important.

Experience with multidisciplinary environments is considered positive. International experience is considered positive.

Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how the applicant, through his or her experience and skills, is deemed to have the abilities necessary for successfully completing the third cycle programme.

Only those admitted to third cycle studies may be appointed to a doctoral studentship. Third cycle studies at LTH consist of full-time studies for 4 years. A doctoral studentship is a fixed-term employment of a maximum of 5 years (including 20% departmental duties). Doctoral studentships are regulated in the Higher Education Ordinance (1998:80).

Instructions on how to apply

Applications shall be written in English and include a cover letter stating the reasons why you are interested in the position and in what way the research project corresponds to your interests and educational background. The application must also contain a CV, degree certificate or equivalent, and other documents you wish to be considered (grade transcripts, contact information for your references, letters of recommendation, etc.).

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
First day of employment By agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100
City Lund
County Skåne län
Country Sweden
Reference number PA2020/3433
  • Hanna Isaksson, +46462221749
Union representative
  • OFR/ST:Fackförbundet ST:s kansli, 046-222 93 62
  • SACO:Saco-s-rådet vid Lunds universitet, 046-222 93 64
  • SEKO: Seko Civil, 046-222 93 66
Published 03.Nov.2020
Last application date 17.Dec.2020 11:59 PM CET

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