PHD in 3D Printing of Polymer Based Stents for Clinical Applications University of Leuven, Technology cluster Mechanic Industrial Engineering Techniques Belgium




Last modified: 1/12/2017

The PhD student/postdoctoral fellow will be part of the Advanced Manufacturing research Laboratory (AML) at the Campus De Nayer (Sint Katelijne Waver) under the supervision of Eleonora Ferraris.AML is part of the Mechanical Engineering Technology Cluster (METC) ( and the Faculty of Engineering Technology at the KU Leuven. METC involves research and service-to-society in various mechanical engineering fields. Its activities are typically application-driven or application-oriented, and can rely on a strong network with the industrial and services sector, but also with more fundamentally oriented research programs, leading to a continuous interaction between fundamental and applied research activities. AML currently include 3 PhD students and several master students. The research interests range from FDM of composites to 3D printing of electronics and bio-printing for mechatronic and biomedical applications. The laboratory has several own-built and commercial 3D printing systems, with a main focus on jet- and extrusion-based techniques that will be used in this project.As part of a joined project, the candidate will spend part of her/his time at the department of Material Engineering (Leuven), and, within this environment, more specifically tutored with respect to tissue engineering aspects, in vitro experiments, and surface functionalisation to improve implant-host interaction.In addition, this project is part of an interuniversity collaboration, and the researcher will have the opportunity to interact with the groups of Peter Dubruel and Thibault Van Zele from the University of Gent as well as Sandra Van Vlierberge from the Free University Brussels (VUB).
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The project aims to develop a novel stenting approach for the surgical treatment of chronic rhinosinusitis. Stenting is advantageous as it can restore sinus aeration and prevent the closure of the treated region after surgery.  Currently, a commercially available nitinol woven stent with silicone covering is used. Starting from the design of this stent as a basis, we aim to create a novel stent that addresses its shortcomings by: (1) fabrication of the stent by 3D printing, which would allow the creation of patient-adapted designs when necessary for a perfect alignment with the surrounding tissue; (2) utilization of a novel, biodegradable polymer as the stent material, which would guide healthy wound healing without the need for its removal; (3) immobilization of relevant anti-inflammatory compounds on the outside surface of the stent that will be slowly released as the stent degrades to stimulate normal wound healing andprevent inflammation and biofilm formation; and (4) development of a newcellular lining (epithelium) formed from autologous cells seeded on a cell-interactive membrane that will line the inner surface of the stent to prevent scarring or recurrence of inflammation.  The final goal of the project is to combine these features into one single stent: the inside surface will be covered with the new epithelium while the outside surface will provide mechanical stability and a beneficial environment to promote wound healing.


The candidate will specifically be assigned to point (1) and (3) as above, including in vitro characterization of the constructs.


Additional responsibilities of the candidate will include:

  • Collaboration on related research activities within the groups.
  • Guidance of master students on related projects.
  • Participation in writing of new project applications.
  • Limited teaching tasks within the department and support for coordination of laboratory activities and laboratories.
  • Presentation of results during regular group meetings and in meetings with project partners.
  • Writing of scientific papers and presenting at scientific conferences, of results obtained during the project.


We are looking for an enthusiastic, creative and independent Ph.D.student researcher (4 year position) with:


  • a master's degree in mechanical engineering, materials engineering, biomedical engineering, engineering technology, or a related domain;
  • good communication skills (oral and written) in English, knowledge of Dutch is a plus;
  • a collaborative attitude and interest in multidisciplinary research;
  • experience in additive manufacturing/3D printing and tissue engineering.


We will also consider candidates at the postdoctoral level for a 3 year position who meets the above criteria and further has a PhD in mechanical engineering, materials engineering, biomedical engineering, engineering technology, or a related domain and specific expertise in the field of additive manufacturing/3D printing for biomedical applications.



The successful candidate will receive:
  • A full-time PhD student position or postdoctoral position at an internationally renowned research university for 4 or 3 years, respectively (initial contract for 1 year, renewed annually).
  • A competitive salary according to the relevant university salary scales.
  • The opportunity to attend international conferences and participate in other training courses and teaching activities.
  • The opportunity to collaborate with top research groups nationally and internationally.


The position is available immediately!

If eligible, the selected candidate will also be expected to apply for a personal fellowship/mandate.



For more information please contact Prof. dr. ir. Eleonora Ferraris, tel.: +32 16 37 28 84, mail: The position will be filled in as soon as the right candidate will be identified. So if you have interest, please apply immediately!
You can apply for this job no later than February 01, 2018 via the online application tool
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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