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Engineering position (6-9 month contract) on development of a virtual platform for device implantation in left atrial appendages

Engineering position (6-9 month contract) on development of a virtual platform for device implantation in left atrial appendages

22.05.2019

 

 

A engineering position is available at the BCN-MedTech Research Unit (https://www.upf.edu/web/bcn-medtech/), Department of Information & Communication Technologies (DTIC) of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Barcelona, Spain, in close collaboration with IDIBAPS / Hospital Clínic de Barcelona starting June 2019. It will be part of a Llavor project (2018 LLAV 0093) within the “Convocatòria d’Indústria del Coneixement per a l’any 2018. Modalitat A. Llavor” call, supported by the “Secretaria d’Universitats I Recerca del Departament d’Empresa I Coneixement” of Generalitat de Catalunya and co-funded by the European Union through “Fons Europeu de Desenvolupament Regional (FEDER)”.

VIDAA Llavor project (2018 LLAV 0093)

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia diagnosed in clinical practice. Problems related with AF increase together with the increment of the world population and in life expectancy. The 90% of the thrombus related with this arrhythmia is created in the left atrial appendage (LAA). One way to reduce this thrombus risk is to give drugs (e.g. anticoagulants) to AF patients. Unfortunately, many of them have problems related with bleeding risk. In those cases a left atrial appendage occluder (LAAO) is implanted to prevent the passage of blood flow in this structure and then reduce the risk of thrombus generation. Morphological information is used to select the best device for a given patient and which trajectory clinicians should take to bring the selected device to the optimal position for a good implantation. These clinical decisions are nowadays highly dependent on the experience of the clinician since there is not a computational platform to provide objective recommendations available.

The main goal of this project is to develop a prototype platform to support the planning of LAAO devices in a clinical environment. The clinician-friendly platform will be implemented using new technologies based on web services and virtual reality (VR) that are affordable to be translated into daily clinical routine. They will also facilitate marketing, decision-making and educational and proactive planning. The final product (VIDAA virtual platform) can have a large impact in the healthcare system since a higher precision in device selection and implantation will led to a reduction of thrombus generated in the LAA and of suffering an ictus. It would also contribute to position LAAO devices as an alternative to anticoagulants that patients need to take every day during the rest of their lives after being diagnosed.  

The project has a proven scientific basis through different research studies performed during the last two years. A preliminary web-based version of the virtual platform with basic functionalities is already available, following specifications set up by clinical partners. Our close collaboration with worldwide clinical experts on LAAO implantation from Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, Hospital Sant Pau, Rigshospitalet (Copenhagen, Denmark) and OLV hospital (Aalst, Belgium) has helped to clearly identify their needs and the potential of the VIDAA platform to support their clinical decisions. Additionally, we are already developing VR interfaces for other medical applications such as for the planning of neurological interventions.

 

 

Workplace

The scientific supervisor of this work is Oscar Camara, Associate Professor at the Department of Information and Communication Technologies of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (DTIC-UPF, https://www.upf.edu/web/etic), and leader of the PhySense research group. The senior developer of PhySense, Carlos Yagüe, will supervise the software design and implementation. The DTIC at the UPF is the first Spanish ICT department that has been awarded with the María de Maeztu grant (excellence in science and innovation accreditation, 2016-2019) on data-driven knowledge extraction (https://www.upf.edu/web/mdm-dtic), and the Spanish university department with the largest number of ERC grants (15, including 6 Advanced ERC Grants). PhySense was recognized as an Emerging Research Group by the Government of Catalonia in 2014 and it is currently composed of 21 members, including 6 postdocs, 10 PhDs and 3 software developers. In September 2016, the group was one of the founding members of the BCN-MedTech unit (https://bcn-medtech.upf.edu/), a Research Unit at UPF that holds more than 200 I+D projects, 95 external collaborations, 1000 high-impact publications, 19 patents and 61 PhD Thesis. It recently (2018) obtained the TECNIO certification from the Catalan Government, given to research centres with proven record of technology transfer.

This work will be performed in close collaboration with clinical researchers from Hospital Clínic de Barcelona and Hospital de Sant Pau, experts in left atrial appendage occlusion interventions.

 

Profile of the candidate

We are looking for a highly motivated junior developer with an undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in Biomedical Engineering, Physics, Computational Science, or related disciplines, willing to develop web-based platforms and virtual reality interfaces in biomedical engineering applications. Experience in computer sciences and having proven programming skills would be of importance, in particular in web-based technologies. Candidates must have excellent teamwork and communication skills and be enthusiastic about collaborating with a diverse range of partners. Interest in clinical translation is essential since meetings with clinicians will regularly take place. Female applicants are explicitly encouraged to apply and will be treated preferentially whenever they are equally qualified as other male candidates. 

 

Deadline and contact information

Applicants should send a curriculum vitae and a motivation letter describing their research interests to Oscar Camara <[email protected]>. Deadline: open until filled.  

 

 

 

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