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Cerebrovascular autoregulation physiology in a piglet cranial window model (ref. BAP-2024-159)

The multidisciplinary Leuven Neurotrauma Research Group (L’NRG) at Biomedical Sciences consists of a close collaboration of the internationally renowned research teams of Experimental Neurosurgery and Intensive Care Medicine. The group is composed of academic and research staff and combines an animal research laboratory and a large intensive care unit (67 beds, over 3,000 admissions of critically ill patients including neurological and neurosurgical patients), both located at the Health Sciences Campus Gasthuisberg in Leuven. L’NRG has established a cranial window porcine model for the study of cerebrovascular autoregulation (patho)physiology and holds a tradition in applying computational techniques in secondary insult monitoring and prediction modeling in acute brain injury. The ultimate goal of L’NRG is to develop smart monitoring tools that are effective in helping clinicians in decision-making and improving outcomes. The unique setting of close interaction between clinicians and researchers allows to swiftly translate from bench to bedside and vice-versa. The project is part of the EU doctoral training network SOPRANI. The SOPRANI network consists of 7 European research institutions and 1 non-academic partner and has recently been granted a European MSCA Doctoral Training Network grant to train and guide 10 doctoral candidates in a 10 individual research projects that are intended to substantially advance the field of neuromonitoring in patients with acute brain injury in neuro-intensive care. The network includes leading researchers and clinicians in the field of central nervous system injury, biotechnology, biostatistics and data sciences, who have decided to join forces by composing a multidisciplinary team to teach young researchers in multiple competences and apply these in their research. The involved partners are KU Leuven, Belgium (Bart Depreitere, Geert Meyfroidt); Leiden University Medical Center, the Netherlands (Ewout Steyenbergh, Wilco Peul); Charité Berlin, Germany (Jens Dreier); Joseph Kepler University Linz, Austria (Raimund Helbok); University of Cambridge, UK (Peter Smielewski); Saint-George University London, UK (Samira Saadoun, Marios Papadopoulos); VIB (Leuven), Belgium (Alan Urban); Moberg Analytics, USA (Dick Moberg).


Traumatic brain injury can lead to devastating consequences for the patient and his family and is the number one cause of death and disability in young people. Medical management consists of the prevention, early detection and treatment of secondary insults that cause additional damage to the brain. Cerebrovascular autoregulation is an ingenious protective physiological mechanism that ensures sufficient cerebral blood flow in spite of varying blood pressure and other threats to homeostasis, that is however often impaired after traumatic brain injury. This impairment has been recognized as an extremely important threat to good outcome, and steering blood pressure based on its monitoring could mean a potential breakthrough in management. However, validated methods to monitor cerebrovascular autoregulation do not exist to date. In our lab, we have developed a piglet cranial window model through which the study of arteriolar diameter and flow changes in response to changes in blood pressure, PaCO2 and other external stimuli can be investigated. The piglets are instrumented with monitoring tools that are also being used in patients in the intensive care unit. The lab is also investing in the development of a severe traumatic brain injury piglet model, in order to enable the study of dynamic impairments of autoregulation capacity. The goal of the current project is to deepen our understanding of autoregulation mechanisms in physiological and pathophysiological conditions and to eventually build a validated patient autoregulation monitor.


- The candidate should have a strong academic record and a masters diploma in the fields of biomedical, medical, biological or neurosciences.

- Handson expertise in animal handling and experimentation is highly useful. Knowledge of data analysis and statistics is essential. Previous research experience is a plus, but not essential.

- The candidate should be able to work independently, take initiative, adopt critical judgment and demonstrate ability to work in team. The project will include several network wide educational events in the SOPRANI consortium and a secondment, for which travel, communication and social skills are required.

- Proficiency in written and spoken English is crucial.

- The candidate can be of any nationality, but must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity Belgium for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her recruitment.

- The selected candidate is expected to write a doctoral thesis on her/his research after 4 years.


The candidate is offered:

- A full time PhD position in an international research team at KU Leuven. The KU Leuven is one of Europe's leading research universities and tops Reuters ranking of Europe's most innovative universities. L’NRG offers a dynamic and intellectually challenging environment, in close collaboration with experts from a wide variety of domains.

- A thorough scientific education and training in all relevant competences to advance the field of neuromonitoring, enabling the possibility to become a world-class researcher in this field.

- The possibility to actively participate in the network’s organizational structure and in international conferences and collaborations.

- A predetermined living allowance, and when appropriate a mobility allowance, family allowance, long-term leave allowance or special needs allowance according to EU standards corrected for the country of employment and integrally transferred to the researchers.

- The possibility to participate in international conferences and collaborations.

- The doctoral project start time is between June and October 2024.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Bart Depreitere, tel.: +3216348688, mail: bart.depreitere@kuleuven.be.

Application is done by sending your CV and motivation letter to bart.depreitere@uzleuven.be.

Apply before: 16/04/2024

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