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Ph.D. position titled: Stabilizing Air Filled Structures for Decubitus Prevention in Pediatric Care in St. Gallen

EMPA (European Master of Public Administration Consortium) is a network of European schools, that offer master programs in public administration.


Pressure ulcers (PUs) are a common and highly relevant professional care issue in hospitals leading to high costs and prolonged stays. PU development depends on multiple factors, including persisting normal and shear forces suppressing tissue blood perfusion, prevalent in stabilizing structures such as mattresses or casts. This is particularly relevant for pediatric patients in neonatology or children rehabilitation.

For the development of air-filled stabilizing structures, a basic understanding is required of the skin physiology of pediatric patients and how risk factors such as pressure, temperature or humidity affect the risk for decubitus. The findings of scientific studies and the existing solutions for adults cannot be directly transferred to pediatric applications. The technical objective of this thesis is to develop stabilizing structures reducing the most critical risk factors. The goal of this thesis is to develop stabilizing structures to be applied during intensive care of infants reducing the risk of developing pressure ulcers.

Your tasks

  • Identification of the main risk factors for decubitus in neonates in collaboration with the children hospital
  • Define parameters for an individualized mattress design and control concept
  • Model the system physically to investigate interaction and understand behavior in contact with a body
  • Develop mattress designs for different sized bodies with varying weight Investigate and characterize material properties for air chambers with defined properties and surface characteristics
  • Investigation of pressure distribution in air mattresses with different chamber shapes and sizes
Your profile

  • Completed MSc degree in mechanical engineering or biomedical engineering
  • Experience in physics-based modeling (finite element modeling, computational fluid dynamics) is considered an advantage.
  • High interest in interdisciplinary research
  • Excellent communication skills and fluency in English (both written and oral) are mandatory.

Administration: A project duration of 3-4 years is envisaged to carry out the above research tasks in the form of a PhD project. The candidate will perform his research at Empa in St. Gallen and will get the PhD degree from ETHZ (Department of Health Science and Technology). The desired starting date is 1st of September 2021 or upon mutual agreement.

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St. Gallen
Chemie / Pharmazie
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