Two PhD positions to study “Computational models for the treatment of epilepsy with deep brain stimulation”

University of Twente
November 20, 2023
Offerd Salary:€ 2.770
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurosurgical procedure that involves the implantation of electrodes into specific targets within the brain and the delivery of electric current from an implanted battery. Over 160,000 patients worldwide have undergone DBS for various conditions, from Parkinson's disease to epilepsy. Whereas the majority of Parkinson's disease patients benefit from DBS, in epilepsy its efficacy is very variable, resulting in disappointment and distress to non-responders and clinicians.

The aim is to improve the fundamental understanding and the efficacy of DBS, focusing on its application in treating epilepsy. The overall strategy is to develop a novel approach that integrates personalized computational models with a unique combination of clinical data. Patients with refractory epilepsy who are not eligible for resective surgery are implanted with DBS and we will record scalp electroencephalogram (EEG) and local field potentials (LFPs) in the thalamus to bridge these different levels.

We are looking for two highly motivated PhD candidates to strengthen our research. In Project 1 , leveraging EEG data during DBS stimulation, you will develop personalized biophysical models based on patient-specific anatomical characteristics, bioelectrical signatures such as tissue conductivity, and clinical outcomes. The application of state-of-the-art finite element methods (FEMs) and source reconstruction methods will lead to new strategies for DBS treatment optimization. With simultaneous EEG and LFP recordings, in Project 2 , you will build and validate a multiscale approach that combines a mesoscopic model of the thalamocortical projections involved during DBS stimulation and a macroscopic volume conduction model based on EEG recordings.

Keywords Project 1 : FEM modeling, source reconstruction, signal analysis

Keywords Project 2 : computational models (micro/meso/macro), validation, tractography

Your profile
  • You are an enthusiastic and highly motivated researcher;
  • You have, or will shortly, acquire a master's degree in the field of Biomedical Engineering, Technical Medicine, Applied Physics, Mathematics, or closely related domain;
  • You have a creative mindset and excellent analytical and communication skills;
  • You have a good team spirit and like to work in an interdisciplinary and internationally oriented environment;
  • You are proficient in English.
  • Our offer
  • A full-time position for four years, with a qualifier in the first year, and the flexibility to work (partially) from home;
  • Your salary and associated conditions are in accordance with the collective labour agreement for Dutch universities (CAO-NU);
  • You will receive a gross monthly salary ranging from € 2.770,- (first year) to € 3.539,- (fourth year);
  • There are excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • A minimum of 232 leave hours in case of full-time employment based on a formal workweek of 38 hours. A full-time employment in practice means 40 hours a week, therefore resulting in 96 extra leave hours on an annual basis;
  • Free access to sports facilities on campus;
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);
  • You will have a training programme as part of the Twente Graduate School where you and your supervisors will determine a plan for a suitable education and supervision.
  • Information and application

    Are you interested in this position? Please send your application via the 'Apply now' button below before 20 November 2023 and include:

  • A cover letter (maximum 2 pages A4), emphasizing your specific interest, qualifications, and motivations to apply for this position;
  • A Curriculum Vitae, including a list of all courses attended and grades obtained, and, if applicable, a list of publications and references;
  • For more information regarding this position, you are welcome to contact Maria-Carla Piastra, [email protected]


    Research in the Clinical Neurophysiology group is at the interface of neuroscience, neurophysiology and clinical neurology, focusing on cerebral ischemia and epilepsy. In addition to improve understanding of pathophysiology, we aim to develop novel diagnostic tools and treatments. Our research is truly translational: from the UT to the clinic and back.

    The EEG is a key clinical and research tool. EEG signal analysis includes various machine learning techniques to improve diagnostic values and (bedside) application. Applied EEG studies are complemented by biophysical modeling and simulation for improved understanding of underlying neuronal dynamics and prediction of treatment effects. In addition, we use in vitro models consisting of cultured neurons (from rodent or human induced pluripotent stem cells) on multi-electrode arrays to study basic neuronal and synaptic functioning, identify treatment targets, and screen treatments.


    1. Cerebral ischemia after ischemic stroke or cardiac arrest - Pathophysiological understanding: biophysical modeling, in vitro modeling (electrophysiology and immunocytochemistry), bio-banking of post mortem patient brains. Focus: dynamics of cell swelling and synaptic failure. - Diagnosis: advanced EEG analysis (including machine learning) and prediction models - Treatment: multicenter, randomized, controlled clinical trials 2. EpIlepsy - Pathophysiological understanding: biophysical and in vitro modeling, EEG and fMRI in ECT induced epileptic seizures as a human epilepsy model. - Diagnosis: cortical excitability testing with TMS/EEG/EMG for improved diagnosis and monitoring of therapeutic efficacy. - Treatment: proof of principle clinical trials

    About the organisation

    The Faculty of Science & Technology (Technische Natuurwetenschappen, TNW) engages some 700 staff members and 2000 students in education and research on the cutting edge of chemical technology, applied physics and biomedical technology. Our fields of application include sustainable energy, process technology and materials science, nanotechnology and technical medicine. As part of a people-first tech university that aims to shape society, individuals and connections, our faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad, and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders. Our research has a high profile both in the Netherlands and internationally and is strengthened by the many young researchers working on innovative projects with as doctoral candidates and post-docs. It has been accommodated in three multidisciplinary UT research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centre and Digital Society Institute.

    Want to know more? Piastra, M.C. (Maria Carla)

    Assistant Professor

    Do you have questions about this vacancy? Then you can contact Maria Carla for all substantive questions about this position and the application procedure. For general questions about working for the UT, please refer to the chatbot.



    Email:[email protected]

    How to apply Step 1

    Apply. When you see a vacancy that appeals to you, you can apply online. We ask you to upload a CV and motivation letter and/or list of publications. You will receive a confirmation of receipt by e-mail.

    Step 2

    Selection. The selection committee will review your application and you will receive a response within 2 weeks after the vacancy has been closed.

    Step 3

    1st interview. The 1st (online or in person) meeting serves as an introduction where we introduce ourselves to you and you to us. You may be asked to give a short presentation. This will be further explained in the invitation.

    Step 4

    2nd interview. In the second interview, we will further discuss the job content, your skills and your talents.

    Step 5

    The offer. If the conversations are positive, you will be made a suitable offer.

    Your Colleagues
  • Steenbergen, W. (Wiendelt)
  • Personal page

  • Pizzoccaro - Zilamy, M.D. (Marie-Alix)
  • Personal page

  • Vargas Llona, L.D. (Laura)
  • Personal page

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