Musculoskeletal Tissue Regeneration

ESR project


Title of project

Radiation free 3D imaging and early treatment of spinal disorders

We offer

A 4-year PhD student position in the field of applied regenerative bone research. Your project is a combination of innovative brace treatment for scoliosis and 3D imaging for design, manufacturing an monitoring of patient-specific brace treatment.

We ask

You hold a Master’s degree in biomedical engineering, medical physics, technical medicine or in a related area. You have affinity with orthopedics, medical image analysis and additive manufacturing.


The Department of Orthopaedics UMC Utrecht in collaboration with the Center for Image Sciences of the UMC Utrecht.


Spinal disorders like scoliosis and related pain and morbidity have huge implications for the individual concerned and is one of the most prominent economic health burdens for society. Currently, there are three treatment options for scoliosis — observation, bracing, and surgery – with different success rates, risk profiles and cost. The treatment of choice is based on the severity of the scoliosis and the physical maturity of the patient. Currently, brace treatment is generally accepted for stabilization of scoliosis. However, it is unclear whether it is possible to use brace treatment for correction of scoliotic spinal deformities. Extensive research in UMC Utrecht, exploiting radiation-free non-invasive imaging methods, has shed light on developmental phases during the onset of scoliosis, which paves the way for new brace treatment approaches in early phases. This is inspired by the Ponseti method which is a manipulative technique that corrects congenital clubfoot without invasive surgery.

The aim of this project is to come up with a new concept for brace treatment. This approach entails the entire treatment path including 3D diagnostics, patient-specific design and manufacturing of a flexible brace,  non-invasive treatment monitoring, image-based brace adaptation and follow up using the in-house developed BoneMRI technology.

The objectives of the current PhD project is

  • To further develop the novel scoliosis brace treatment approach inspired by the Ponseti method.
  • To explore the possibilities of the BoneMRI technique for 3D assessment of the spine and body contour
  • Apply the 3D and functional data to design patient-specific braces and develop optimal bracing techniques
  • To develop MRI-based monitoring approaches for treated scoliosis patients
  • To develop a wholistic scoliosis treatment workflow from diagnosis to follow up

The PhD candidate will be part of a team of researchers with specific knowledge of orthopedic surgery, spinal disorders and medical imaging.


  • You have a Master in Biomedical engineering, technical medicine, medical physics or related science
  • You have affinity with research of the skeleton, medical image analysis and additive manufacturing
  • You can travel and stay to collaborating research facilities overseas (Hongkong)
  • Experience with MRI and machine learning are of benefit

Contact person & more information

Prof. dr. R.M. Castelein, UMC Utrecht


This project is part of RESCUE, a multidisciplinary, intersectoral and interdisciplinary PhD training programme in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells organised by UMC Utrecht (coordinator) and Utrecht University. RESCUE is partly funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND scheme. There are specific requirements with regards to English language and mobility for candidates who would like to take part in this programme. More information