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, coordinated from the orthopedic department in Utrecht. Your project will focus on 3D imaging with a new  ultrasound device

We ask

You hold a Master’s degree in medicine, medical biology or in a related area. You have affinity with orthopedics and the surgical skills to perform large animal experiments.


The Department of Orthopaedics UMC Utrecht


Spinal disorders and related pain and morbidity has huge implications for the individual concerned and is one of the most prominent economic health burdens for society. Unfortunately, there is very little knowledge about the etiology and no risk factors have been identified for these pathologies. Furthermore, virtually nothing is known of the normal vs. the pathologic development of the spine during growth. There is a large body of evidence that a harmonious development of the spino-pelvic alignment is a prerequisite for good functioning and many of the disorders of later life are thought to be associated with life style and may arise at young age during spinal growth and development. Yet, it is unknown under which conditions a spine ideally develops into a healthy status or is prone to development of diseases such as e.g. scoliosis, (hyper)kyphosis or other mal-alignment. In addition, it is unknown what the subsequent growth stages are of a normal healthy developing spine. This knowledge will improve insight in etiology as well as better treatment regimens for these children

The objective of the current PhD project is

  • To assess the phases of development of the normal spine with a recently validated radiation-free imaging method using 3D ultrasound echography, and
  • To identify risk factors for the development of spinal disorders during childhood
  • To explore the possibilities of the ultrasound imaging technique for real time (functional) measurements of the spine
  • Apply the 3D and functional data to develop optimal surgical and bracing techniques

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 medicine, medical biology or related science
  • You have affinity with research of the skeleton and medical imaging
  • You can travel and stay to collaborating research facilities overseas (Hongkong)
  • Experience with statistics and methodology 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