Doctoral Fellowship for the Role of Mechanics in Cardiovascular Disease

Catholic University of Leuven


In a longstanding collaboration between the clinical cardiac surgery group (Prof. Filip Rega and Prof. Bart Meuris) and the biomechanics section (Prof. Nele Famaey), biomedical scientists, engineers and cardiac surgeons work together to unravel the mysteries of cardiovascular disease, in particular the interplay between vessel wall microstructure and remodeling due to an altered mechanical environment.


Several studies, both in vitro and in vivo, are currently ongoing. The first is a large clinical study, in which the mechanical and microstructural properties of aneurysmatic tissue are characterized to formulate a new diagnostic criterion. A second clinical study is following patients who receive a PEARS (personalized external aortic root support, i.e. an external wrapping to prevent further dilatation of the aneurysm) as opposed to standard aneurysm treatment (i.e. aneurysm replacement using a prosthetic graft). A third study investigates endogenous tissue restoration in degradable vascular grafts and heart valves within a series of animal trials. In a fourth study, the team is currently developing a bioreactor set-up in which the effects of altered mechanical conditions can be studied in a controlled manner.

The main activities will involve microstructural analysis, immunohistochemical analysis and rna sequencing of the various cardiovascular tissues (and graft/support material), following up of the ongoing clinical trial, assisting in animal experiments, performing experiments on the bioreactor, performing statistical analysis on the obtained data, critically interpreting the obtained results and disseminating these results through scientific publications and presentations.


This multidisciplinary team is looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate with a special focus on translational research in cardiovascular sciences.

·       The candidate is expected to have a Master in Biomedical Sciences or equivalent. Ideally, she/he already had a first experience within cardiovascular sciences.

·       He/she has the FELASA certificate and is allowed to work with animals or is motivated to obtain this certificate within the first year of the PhD program.

·       The candidate is fluent in both written and spoken English.

·       The candidate is motivated to work in a multidisciplinary team, but also capable to work independently and with a high degree of organization and structure.

·       The candidate has affinity with mathematics and analytical thinking skills, not as a developer of computational models, but to the extent that she/he can hold meaningful discussions with the collaborating engineers.

·       Communication is a key-aspect of working in a multidisciplinary team, so he/she needs to be sociable and a strong communicator.

·       Experience with ethical committee applications, clinical studies or animal experiments is considered a plus.


The lab offers a full time (100%) doctoralfellowship for 1 year within an established multidisciplinary team.  The candidate is expected to apply for apersonal PhD grant within the first year, to ensure funding for the remainingPhD period. Ample support will be provided by the team during this applicationprocess. This position is immediately available and will be supervised byexperts from the different involved disciplines. It will provide the candidatewith many learning opportunities in these different disciplines.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Nele Famaey, tel.: +32 16 32 89 80, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than April 30, 2021 via the
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  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: April 30, 2021
  • Tags: Cardiovasculaire wetenschappen

In your application, please refer to


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