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Postdoctoral position: Data science application for spinal cord injury recovery prediction in Zürich

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80%-100%, Zurich, fixed-term

The Biomedical Data Science Lab investigates data-driven solutions for healthcare applications with a focus on neurological conditions such as spinal cord injury, lower back pain, neuro-degenerative disorders and neurological tumors. At the core of our research is the collaboration across disciplines spanning expertise in medicine, biology, computer and data science. We are seeking a motivated postdoc to join this growing team and contribute to interdisciplinary research partnerships.

Project background

Traumatic spinal cord injury has strong and life-long implications on the affected patients and their families. Naturally, patients have critical questions regarding their prognosis of recovery and probable long-term disability to plan for their health-related, financial, and social future. Apart from personalized recovery predictions, there is also a need to accelerate the search for effective treatments of spinal cord injury through clinical trials which are challenging given that spinal cord injuries are rare and highly heterogeneous. In this project, we investigate different flavors of machine learning in order to predict how an individual will recover neurologically and in terms of functional ability (e.g. walking ability). Based on these models we perform in silico trial simulations to guide the selection of patient cohorts and investigate the potential benefit of synthetic controls in clinical practice. At the core of this project is the clinical translation of the developed concepts for which we collaborate with experts in algorithm deployment to launch web-based tools that can be used by clinicians and patients alike to explore recovery trajectories and trial designs.

Job description

You will:

  • Familiarize yselves with the European Multicenter Study about Spinal Cord Injury (EMSCI) database which is readily available at the start of this project
  • Lead the implementation, training and benchmarking of state-of-the-art data science pipelines
  • Run simulations based on a mechanistic understanding of the clinical hallmarks of traumatic spinal cord injury
  • Communicate with clinical experts regarding the requirements for an online recovery exploration platform and the design and evaluation of clinical trials in the context of traumatic spinal cord injuries 
  • Support junior researchers in the team and be part of an engaging and collaborative team
Your profile
  • You have a PhD in a relevant field such as data science, computer science, physics and/or biomedical research 
  • You are proficient in Python programming good knowledge of the implementation of machine and deep learning models through Keras/TensorFlow and/or PyTorch
  • You have experience in software development including collaborative coding, version control and use of compute clusters
  • You ideally have a background in biomedical projects with experience in interdisciplinary collaboration
  • You are motivated to work as part of a team and strive towards scientific excellence in your field 
  • You are proficient in English in writing and speaking 
Your workplace
Your workplace

We offer

We offer a 2-year project-based contract at the BMDS lab working in the spinal cord injury team that includes: 

  • Opportunities to engage with different communities bridging data science and spinal cord injury research leading to high-impact publications
  • Seeing a data science project translated to practice with the support of ETH Nexus Personalized Health Technologies
  • You will be part of a highly motivated, friendly and collaborative team
  • We will support your scientific career and application for postdoctoral fellowships 
  • You will be able to attend relevant (inter-) national conferences to increase your visibility and present the project outcomes
  • You will be involved in the supervision of junior researchers and teaching in the lab
We value diversity
In line with , ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.
Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • a letter of motivation (1-page max)
  • CV 
  • PhD diploma or equivalent

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr. Sarah Brueningk, by email at sarah.brueningk@hest.ethz.ch (no applications).
We evaluate applications on a rolling basis. 

About ETH Zürich
ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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