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Spinner’s Second Training Event

Host by the University of Bologna and Fin-ceramica SPA, Faenza, Italy

18th – 22nd February 2019

The Spinner Consortium at the University of Bologna
(Left to Right)
Marco Senale (ESR5, Ansys/Uni of Sheffield)
José Rui Rodrigues (ESR2, University of Sheffield/Finceramica)
Cameron James (ESR5, ADAGOS/University of Sheffield)
Jennifer Fayad (ESR4, University of Bologna/National Center of Spinal Disorders)
Denata Syla (ESR1, University of Sheffield/Finceramica)
Norman Powell (Project Manager, University of Sheffield)
Lingzhong Gou (Lecturer, University of Sheffield)
Chloé Techens (ESR3, University of Bologna/National Center of Spinal Disorders)
Gwen Reilly (Coordinator, University of Sheffield)
Luca Cristofolini (Host, University of Bologna)
Laura Grillini (Researcher, Finceramica)
Peter Eltes (Surgeon, National Center of Spinal Disorders)
Michel Rochette (Director of Research , Anys)
Mathieu Causse (Software Developer, ADAGOS)
Claudia Mazzà (Professor, University of Sheffield)
Enrico Dall’Ara (Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield)

In February, the fellows attended their second training, hosted by Luca Cristofolini at the University of Bologna.

On the first day, the fellows observed a spine surgery led by Prof Cesare Faldini at the Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli.

Spinner Fellows watch telecast of live spine surgery after being shown around the theatre

On the second day, Carla Pegoraro from the PLoS One journal and Insigneo’s former Director, Marco Viceconti, now at the University of Bologna, explained how to write scientifically from a publishing and academic perspectives. Luca gave a tour of the Biomechanics Laboratory. Vittorio Colombo from the University of Bologna give a workshop on Intellectual Properties.

Luca Cristofolini explains biomechanical testing in the Biomechanics Laboratory to the Spinner Fellows

On the third day, the Fellows had an opportunity to present their progress to the group. In the afternoon, Claudia Mazzà, University of Sheffield talked about Research Ethics.

Over the course of the week, the Fellows learnt about Project Management from three different industrial perspectives: Michel Rochette, Ansys, as a large software house, Mathieu Causse, as a start-up software company and Christopher Schilling, Aesculap in the development of an implantable device.

Christopher Schilling, Aesculap explains the stages of development of an implantable device in Finceramica, Faenza

Finceramica in Faenza, a biomaterials company that synthesises materials for bone and joint repair, hosted the final day. They providing an insight into their products and materials and the development of implantable products.  

Spinner Consortium exploring Bologna la grassa
(clockwise from left):
Luca Cristofolini (Host, University of Bologna)
Denata Syla (ESR1, University of Sheffield/Finceramica)
Marco Palanco (Researcher, University of Bologna)
Enrico Dall’Ara (Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield)
Chloé Techens (ESR3, University of Bologna/National Center of Spinal Disorders)
Marco Senale (ESR5, Ansys/Uni of Sheffield)
Jennifer Fayad (ESR4, University of Bologna/National Center of Spinal Disorders)
José Rui Rodrigues (ESR2, University of Sheffield/Finceramica)
Cameron James (ESR5, ADAGOS/University of Sheffield)
Michel Rochette (Director of Research , Anys)
Mathieu Causse (Software Developer, ADAGOS)
Claudia Mazzà (Professor, University of Sheffield)

By day, the Fellows experienced Bologna la dotta, the learned, through their technical and professional development and arguable Bologna la rossa, the red, observing the surgery. By night, they experienced Bologna la grassa, the fat, exploring the medieval, porticoed centre to feast in the shelter of the twin, leaning towers, on the cured meats, cheeses, fresh pasta, of course beef ragú, the famous Bolgnese sauce.

Denata Syla (ESR1) in the Operating Theatre at Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli

Denata said: “Being able to observe a spinal surgery in person was not only fascinating but gave me a better idea of what is realistic and what not when designing a bone graft which could later be possibly used by the surgeons for spinal repair.”

Another Fellow said “The event was excellent and included some great activities. The scheduling achieved a really good balance between the more inolved activities (tours etc.) and the presentations, so that no single day was spent entirely in a lecture environment.”

Spinner’s First Training Event

Hosted by Aesculap AG, Tuttlingen, DE

Wednesday to Friday, 5th – 7th December 2018

The Spinner delegation surround the keystone, dated 1877, from one of Aesculap’s original buildings in Tuttlingen, in the foyer of their new canteen. Left to right, standing: Marco Sensale (ESR5, Ansys), Norman Powell (Spinner Project Manager, University of Sheffield), Thomas Grupp (Host, Aesculap), Áron Lazáry (NCSD), Peter Ender Eltes (NCSD), José Rodrigues (ESR2, University of Sheffield), Cameron James (ESR6, AGAGOS), Luca Cristofolini (University of Bologna), Lucia Forte (Finceramica), Pavel Barsa (Regional Hospital, Liberec). Left to right, kneeling: Enrico Dall’Ara (University of Sheffield), Gwen Reilly (Spinner Coordinator, University of Sheffield), Denata Syla (ESR1, University of Sheffield), Chloé Thechens (ESR3, University of Bologna), Jennifer Fayad (ESR4, University of Bologna).

In early December, the Spinner Fellows and their supervisors journeyed to town of Tuttlingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the South West of Germany, close to the Swiss border. This is the home for the headquarters of Aesculap AG, a medical device company with a broad range of devices, including implants and surgical equipment for spinal implants and related interventions. Tuttlingen also houses Aesculap’s purpose built Aesculap Academy, the venue for Spinner’s first training event.

On the first afternoon, Prof Dr Thomas Grupp, the Principal Expert Engineer, Research and Development for Biomechanics, Orthopaedics and Spine, hosted the event and welcomed the Spinner delegation by providing an introduction to Aesculap AG, which had just celebrated its 150 year anniversary in 2017, and B. Braun, its parent company. The Spinner Research Fellows then introduced themselves and their research projects to each other. Christoph Schilling, Aesculap AG, then introduced the range of spinal implants and surgical tools that had been developed and manufactured by Aesculap.

Dinner was at a Hirsch micro-brewery in the neighbouring town of Wurmlingen, where a sample of range of the local beers from a light white beer to a darker Christmas beer was a popular choice to accompany the solid meals of steak or stew.

The second day began with a hands-on workshop demonstrating the spinal plates and fixtures on plastic models of the cervical and lumbar spines. This provided an invaluable grounding of the practical application of the Spinner Fellows research projects.

Spinner Fellows and Supervisors apply spinal fixations to cervical and lumbar spines under the guidance of Aesculap staff and spine surgeons.

In the afternoon the spine surgeons, Pavel Barsa, Regional Hospital, Liberec, Áron Lazáry and Peter Eltes, National Centre for Spinal Disorders, Budapest, provided detailed case studies, with photographs and medical images of surgical interventions, which drew out issues of corrective surgery, the importance of balance in the spine and preservation of spine curvature, and the use of cement reinforcement and spine fixation.

Dinner was at a restaurant local to Tuttlingen, where Christmas Beer was a popular accompaniment to the rumpsteaks and fried onions.

The third day began with a tour Aesculap’s Benchmark manufacturing plant, where the production, quality measurement and sterilisation of a variety of medical devices, including the spinal wedges and the fixations devices and well as knee and hip prosthesis. After more cases studies on advanced spine surgery, the Spinner Fellows had an opportunity to meet with their supervisory teams.

The visit finished with a tour of the Biomechanical Research Laboratory, which demonstrated the involved testing regimes developed to recreate authentic usage and wear conditions for medical devices.
The Spinner Fellows appreciated the warm welcome and practical introduction into the application their research areas provided by Thomas and his team at Aesculap and case studies provided by the spine surgeons.

Here is what some of the participants had to say:

Denata Syla: “The training event changed my point of view to the project completely. Before I went to the event I thought I had an idea, but now I know that I do not really have an idea about how to apply my project. This makes me think it over and make significant changes, so it was very helpful for me.”

Marco Sensale: “The TE1 at Aesculap provided an intensive training about spinal surgical procedures. It was a unique opportunity to learn from international experts and to have insights in Aesculap’s specialisation in spinal devices. The hands-on workshops with surgeons to simulate operations were the best part of the training.”

Six Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher Positions

SPINNER (SPINe: Numerical and Experimental Repair strategies) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Networks (ITN) European Industrial Doctorate (EID) aimed at improving treatments for spine disorders.

SPINNER is recruiting a group of six Bioengineering early stage researchers (ESRs) to be in a position to design the next generation of repair materials and techniques for spine surgery. The project brings together partners from the biomaterials, implantable devices, and computational modelling industries with orthopaedic clinicians and academic experts in cell, tissue and organ scale biomaterials and medical device testing. All projects will be fully grounded in practical industrial and clinical requirements, where the number of patients requiring complex spine surgery is rapidly expanding, and the biomedical engineering industry needs suitably trained, innovators to produce economic solutions to support healthy ageing for the people of Europe.

SPINNER is an academic/ clinical/ industrial partnership and the ESRs will be expected to interact with several partners during their three years of research. The partners are:

For more information, please visit www.spinner-eid.eu.
The ESRs will be recruited for 36 months and be enrolled onto a PhD programme at one of the academic partner institutions. They will expect to spend at least 18 months at a non-academic partner institution.

Early Stage Researcher (ESR) Projects

ESR1: Osteoinductive injectable/ mouldable bone graft substitute for spine repair

Start Date: 01-September-2018
Host institution: University of Sheffield, UK
This ESR will join Insigneo the institute for in silico medicine and will be affiliated with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Industrial Secondment: Finceramica, Italy

Objectives: Development of multisubstituted hydroxyapatite (SrMgHA) to manufacture orthopaedic cements and putties for enhanced bone regeneration in spinal fusion.

Required Skills: This ESR should have or be close to obtaining an Undergraduate degree in Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Chemistry or a related discipline. Basic knowledge of biomaterials, regenerative medicine, processing of ceramic nanoparticles, chemical/physical characterisation of biomaterials, statistical methods and experience of cell culture is desirable. Chemical laboratory experience is required. The ESR should show highly collaborative attitude, excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Acquired skills: This ESR will specialise in hydroxyapatite based regenerative materials. The project will enable the ESR to develop research and technical skills on physico/chemical characterisation of biomaterials (for example, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), morphological evaluation by SEM, ICP spectrometry, enzymatic degradation test, mechanical testing), materials characterisation techniques (for example, mechanical testing and elemental analysis), basic knowledge on in vitro biological testing to assess the capability of the material to drive bone regeneration, and basic knowledge about organ-level biomechanical testing.

Employability: the profile of this ESR will make him/her employable at medical device companies active in the development and production of synthetic bone graft for bone regeneration in orthopaedic, dental or maxillofacial surgery.

Informal enquiries: Gwen Reilly (g.reilly@sheffield.ac.uk) or Elisa Figallo (efigallo@finceramica.it).

Applications for this position will also need to complete the University of Sheffield’s application procedure, which can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/y85xyj7r.

ESR2: Development of osteoinductive coatings for spinal implants (fusion cages)

Start Date: 01-September-2018
Host institution: University of Sheffield, UK
This ESR will join Insigneo the institute for in silico medicine and will be affiliated with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Industrial Secondment: Finceramica, Italy

Objectives: To develop an osteoinductive coating for cages used in spinal fusion, through exploring the antibacterial properties of multisubstituted apatite.

Required Skills: This ESR should have or be close to obtaining an Undergraduate degree in Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science, Chemistry or a related discipline. Basic knowledge of ceramic biomaterials and processing, methodologies for chemical/physical characterisation of biomaterials, statistical methods and experience of cell culture is desirable. Chemical laboratory experience is required. The ESR should show highly collaborative attitude, excellent written and verbal communication skills.

Acquired skills: this ESR will specialise in hydroxyapatite based regenerative materials and devices for orthopaedic application. The ESR will have the opportunity to develop research and technical skills in biological (cell viability) and physico/chemical characterisation of biomaterials (for example, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), morphological evaluation by SEM, ICP spectrometry, enzymatic degradation test, mechanical testing), materials characterisation techniques (for example, mechanical testing and elemental analysis) and basic knowledge of in vitro biological testing. Training will include assessment of mechanical competence at different scales, also in relation to revision of joint replacement. The ESR will acquire project management, communication and analytical skills by working in close collaboration with different steps in product development (production, quality assurance/regulatory, marketing) as described by design control principles.

Employability: the profile of this ESR will make him/her employable at medical device companies developing or commercialising class III products for tissue regeneration particularly in the orthopaedic field.

Informal enquiries: Fred Claeyssens (f.claeyssens@sheffield.ac.uk) or Elisa Figallo (efigallo@finceramica.it).

Applications for this position will also need to complete the University of Sheffield’s application procedure, which can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/y85xyj7r.

ESR3: Integration of clinical experience and in vitro biomechanical testing to improve spinal augmentation

Start Date: 01-November-2018
Host institution: University of Bologna, Italy
This ESR will join the PhD program Health and Technology, an interdisciplinary collaboration bridging the medical and the engineering departments of the University of Bologna, and will be affiliated with the Department of Industrial Engineering.
Industrial Secondment: National Center for Spinal Disorders, Hungary

Objectives: To develop understanding of the failure mechanism of augmented spine segments, focusing both on the vertebrae subjected to vertebroplasty, and adjacent ones.

Required Skills: This ESR should have or be close to obtaining (by 31 July 2018) a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering, Materials Science, or a related discipline.  Only applicants with a University degree that would allow them to join a PhD program in Italy or in UK can apply, i.e. a University Degree of 3+1 or 3+2 years, or a similar combined degree consisting of a Bachelor followed by a Master corresponding to a total of 4 or more years of legal duration, or a single degree of 4 of more years can apply for admission. Knowledge of biomechanics, orthopaedics and mechanics of materials and structures is essential.  Additionally, experience in mechanical testing, biomaterials, and with clinical environments desirable.

Acquired skills: This ESR will specialise on the problems related to vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty and vertebral augmentation. During the first phase, the ESR will become familiar with the clinical environment, and learn the clinical problems related to vertebroplasty. This will include patients with osteoporotic fractures and metastatic lesions. During the second phase, the ESR will learn (in synergy with ESR3) how to develop dedicated biomechanical testing with a focus on vertebroplastic technique.

Employability: The expertise that this ESR will gain will make him/her employable in industries developing regenerative materials, and in test labs.

Informal enquiries: Luca Cristofolini (luca.cristofolini@unibo.it) or Áron Lazáry (aron.lazary@bhc.hu).

ESR4: Sagittal stability: movement analysis before and patient motion after spinal treatments

Start Date: 01-November-2018
Host institution: University of Bologna, Italy
This ESR will join the PhD program Health and Technology, an interdisciplinary collaboration bridging the medical and the engineering departments of the University of Bologna, and will be affiliated with the Department of Industrial Engineering.
Industrial Secondment: National Center for Spinal Disorders, Hungary
Objectives: To develop a comprehensive approach to spinal balance and more in general to spine biomechanics.

Required Skills: This ESR should have or be close to obtaining  (by 31 July 2018) a degree in Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering, or a related discipline. Only applicants with a University degree that would allow them to join a PhD program in Italy or in UK can apply, i.e. a University Degree of 3+1 or 3+2 years, or a similar combined degree consisting of a Bachelor followed by a Master corresponding to a total of 4 or more years of legal duration, or a single degree of 4 of more years can apply for admission.  Knowledge of biomechanics, orthopaedics and imaging is essential.  Additionally, experience in mechanical testing, numerical modelling, and with clinical environments desirable. anical testing, numerical modelling, and with clinical environments desirable.

Acquired skills: This ESR will gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues related to spinal balance. He/she will get familiar with in vivo methods to assess patients before and after spinal corrections (including imaging and movement analysis), modelling methods to investigate sagittal balance, and in vitro biomechanical tests (in synergy with ESR 3). In the last phase, he/she will familiarise with mechanical testing and experimental stress analysis.

Employability: The profile of this ESR will make him employable by companies manufacturing spine correction devices, but also in clinical centres for movement analysis.

Informal enquiries: Luca Cristofolini (luca.cristofolini@unibo.it) or Áron Lazáry (aron.lazary@bhc.hu).

ESR5: Modelling spinal surgical procedures

Start Date: 01-September-2018
Host Institution: Ansys, France
Academic Institution: University of Sheffield, UK
Objectives: Development of a personalised finite element model of the lumbar spine to simulate spinal repair systems.

Required Skills: This ESR should have or be close to obtaining an Undergraduate degree in Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering or a related discipline. Knowledge of finite element modelling and scripting is essential. Knowledge of medical images and image processing is desirable.

Acquired skills: This ESR will specialise in in silico modelling of the spine. The project will give the ESR the opportunity to acquire high skills in computational modelling, in particular in the modelling of the many different tissues that compose the spine. The ESR will acquire knowledge of the multi-scale anatomy and biomechanics of the spine, and the different orthopaedic interventions available (interspinous implant concepts). In addition, the ESR will get a very complete experience in in vitro testing, and integration of experimental and numerical methods.

Employability: This program will enable the trainee to be employable in any orthopaedic company that requires a good understanding of the biomechanics and the effect of medical devices on the body. In addition, the extensive experience in computational modelling will enable the trainee to work in companies requiring expertise in finite element modelling.

Informal enquiries: Michel Rochette (michel.rochette@ansys.com) or Enrico Dall’Ara (e.dallara@sheffield.ac.uk).

ESR6: Statistical shape modelling and reduced order modelling techniques for patient-specific models

Start Date: 01-September-2018
Host Institution: ADAGOS, France
Academic Institution: University of Sheffield, UK

Objectives: The goal is to design a procedure that creates a patient specific in silico model of the spine. This model shall evolve and adapt depending on the real time action of the clinician during the clinical procedure. At each surgical step, the in silico model will test several scenarios and propose to the clinician the best placement of implants. Each possible scenario of implants configuration and order of their placement can be modelled by finite elements model. When the operation is oriented on an individual patient and not on average spinal column, the approach based on resolution of a complete model becomes too computationally expensive, because multiple configurations have to be tested in order to find the optimal one. As a consequence, this approach cannot be efficiently introduced into medical practice. Recently, the AI solutions have proven to be of great interest for medical applications. The main goal of the future ESR will be the introduction of the reduced order model based on machine learning techniques. Both the real medical data and the results of the finite elements analysis will be used for training of this model.

Required Skills: This ESR should have or be close to obtaining a minimum undergraduate Honours degree (UK 2:1 or better) or MSc (Merit or Distinction) in Engineering, Mathematics, Statistics, Signal Processing, or a related discipline. Knowledge of modelling and simulation is essential. Knowledge of deep learning, artificial intelligent and image processing is desirable.

Acquired skills: The ESR will obtain very strong fundamentals on the deep learning techniques and their applications in biomedical studies, GPU computing.

Employability: The ESR will receive a strong background in deep learning applied to biomechanics and therefore companies requiring modelling expertise in the orthopaedic sector or in the biomedical engineering field, or any other engineering field will be interested in such profile.

Informal enquiries: Kateryna Bashtova (kateryna.bashtova@adagos.com) or Lingzhong Guo (l.guo@sheffield.ac.uk).

Eligibility Criteria

The following eligibility criteria apply for these positions:

  • Mobility: To be eligible for a position, you must not have resided in the same country as the host institution for more than 12 months over the three years leading up to the start date of the position, excluding holidays and (refugee status) asylum application.
  • Early Stage Researcher: An Early Stage Researcher (ESR) shall at the time of recruitment by the host organisation, be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.

For general informal enquires about the SPINNER project and the six positions please contact: Gwen Reilly (g.reilly@sheffield.ac.uk) or Luca Cristofolini (luca.cristofolini@unibo.it).

Language Requirements

ESR1, ESR2, ESR5 and ESR6 will need to fulfil the Universities of Sheffield’s English language requirements for PhD registration, which are International English Language Test System (IELTS) 6.5 Overall, with a minimum of 6 in each category. The only exception to this is where your previous degree was in a native English speaking country, no more than five years ago.

For more information please see https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/postgraduate/info/englang.

ESR3 and ESR4 do not have an Italian language requirement, the working language of the laboratory is English. Reasonable English is required, which will be assessed at interview.

Benefits

The MSCA programme offers highly competitive and attractive salary and working conditions. The successful candidates will receive a salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for early stage researchers. Exact salary will be confirmed upon appointment [Living Allowance = 3,700 euro/month (correction factor to be applied per country) + Monthly mobility allowance = 600 to 850 euro depending on the family situation]. In addition to their individual scientific projects, all ESRs will benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills courses and active participation in workshops and conferences. The approximate gross salary stated above is subject to employers statutory deductions and the amount varies according to the living costs of the host country.

PhD fees will be covered by the project grant.

Overseas (non-EU) applicants

Overseas applicants are welcome, please indicate if you require the host institution to sponsor your work visa.

Application

Please complete the application form, and upload a one-page application letter and a three-page curriculum vitae as PDF files, where requested within the form. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, 15th May 2018.

Applications for ESR1 and ESR2 will also have to complete the University of Sheffield’s application process, which can be found at: https://tinyurl.com/y85xyj7r.

Please note it is only necessary to apply for ONE single ESR position, only one application per person will be considered during the shortlisting process. If you are interested in a second position, please state this in the form and in your application letter.

European flagThis project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 766012

SPINNER – next generation spine experts

Welcome to the SPINNER website, this European funded doctoral training EID will be recruiting students to start in Autumn 2018.

European flag

The aim of SPINNER is to train Bioengineering early stage researchers to be in a position to design the next generation of repair materials and techniques for spine surgery. The project brings together partners from the biomaterials (Fin-Ceramica Faenza), implantable devices (Aesculap), and computational modelling (Ansys, Adagos) industries with orthopaedic clinicians (National Centre for Spinal Disorders, NCSD) and academic experts in cell, tissue and organ scale biomaterials and medical device testing (Universities of Sheffield and Bologna). All projects will be fully grounded in practical industrial and clinical requirements, where the number of patients requiring complex spine surgery is rapidly expanding, and the biomedical engineering industry needs suitably trained, innovators to produce economic solutions to support healthy ageing for the people of Europe.

More information will be available here soon.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 766012