PhD Position in Digital Mobility Outcomes for Measuring Freezing of Gait in Parkinson’s Disease

Catholic University of Leuven Department of Rehabilitation Sciences


Prof. Alice Nieuwboer is recruiting a PhD student to perform a scientific project related to using technology to measure of freezing of gait in Parkinson’s Disease. This research project will be part of the Neurorehabilitation Research Unit of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. The mission of the Neurorehabilitation Research Group (eNRGy) is to better understand the rehabilitation potential of adults and children with neurological disorders. Prof. Nieuwboer focuses mainly on Parkinson's Disease (PD) and on the study of the phenomenon of freezing of gait and associated deficits. The group as a whole studies the motor control deficits and underlying dysfunctions of neurological systems to gain insight into the mechanisms and possibilities of neuroplasticity after brain degeneration. Research of this group also includes translational study that directly contributes to the innovation and refinement of rehabilitation interventions.


Freezing of gait (FOG) impairs the function and independence of many people with Parkinson's disease (PD) and often does not respond to conventional therapies. Freezing of Gait (FOG) is a complex, episodic and debilitating symptom, predominantly occurring in unsupervised settings. Patients with FOG are at a very high risk of falls, experience more anxiety and have a lower quality of life. A key issue preventing FOG research is that methods to detect and quantify these events are time-consuming and unreliable. Inthis project you will be part of a multidisciplinary team of health researchersand engineers who will develop, based on historical data, an integrated and personalized software-platform to automate FOG detection in patients’ homes. In an experimental pipeline from lab to home, new data will be collected to refine accurate and robust detection algorithms while at the same time ensuring user-friendly interfaces. Finally, a roadmap for wide availability of the system will be setup with different licensing strategies towards different stakeholders in clinical care or research. Work packages of the project will be carried out collaboratively with scientific teams within KU Leuven (Department of Electrical Engineering). In addition, some of the work will involve using digitized outcomes to measure gait over a period of two years as part of an EU-funded international consortium, MOBILISE-D The candidate will be involved in the clinical research questions of the project and not be required to perform the engineering tasks, such as algorithm development.


-     You have a master degree in Movement or Rehabilitation Sciences,Biomedical Sciences, Neurosciences, Experimental Psychology or Biomedical engineering.

-     You speak Dutch fluently, as you will be working with older participants with PD.

-     You have an interest in the science underlying rehabilitation.   

-     You have a strong affinity with frail people and have excellent communication skills.  

-     You obtained excellent scores for your bachelor and master degree.

-     You have a strong interest in the study of motor control in healthy older participants and in patient populations.

-     You are able to take on responsibilities and work independently.

-     You possess programming skills for data analysis (e.g. Matlab, Python or R).

-     You speak English fluently and have excellent writing skills to prepare manuscripts for international refereed journals.

-     You look forward to collaboration within an international team of scientists.

-     You are available from the 1st of February 2021.


Responsibilities of the candidate:

-     Performscientific research in preparation of a PhD thesis (see project) under thesupervision of Prof. Nieuwboer

-     AssistMaster students with completing a research topic

-     Provideteaching assistance for the senior academic staff members of the Department

We offer the PhD candidate a full-time employment (at least 2 years) in an intellectually challenging environment. KU Leuven is a research-intensive, internationally oriented university that carries out both fundamental and applied scientific research.It is highly focused on inter- and multidisciplinary research. It provides students with an academic education that based on high-quality scientific research.

Successful completion of the PhD program will result in a doctoral degree in Biomedical Sciences. The candidate will be associated with the doctoral school of Cognitive &Molecular Neurosciences or Physical Exercise in Health & Disease. You will work in Leuven, a historic, dynamic and lively city located in the heart of Belgium, within 20 minutes from Brussels, the capital of the European Union,and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam.


Meer informatie is te verkrijgen bij prof. dr. Alice Nieuwboer, tel.: +32 16 32 91 19, mail: of de heer Pieter Ginis, tel.: +32 16 37 65 63, mail:

Solliciteren voor deze vacature kan tot en met 04/01/2021 via onze
KU Leuven wil een omgeving creëren waarin alle talenten maximaal tot ontplooiing kunnen komen, ongeacht gender, leeftijd, culturele herkomst, nationaliteit of functiebeperking. Hebt u vragen in verband met toegankelijkheid of ondersteuningsmogelijkheden, dan kan u ons contacteren via
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: January 4, 2021
  • Tags: Revalidatiewetenschappen

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