ETH Zürich

SNSF-funded Postdoc Position in Multiphoton Intravital Imaging of Heterotopic Ossification

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SNSF-funded Postdoc Position in Multiphoton Intravital Imaging of Heterotopic Ossification

The Laboratory for Bone Biomechanics (LBB) at the Institute for Biomechanics at ETH Zurich is offering a Postdoc position in multiphoton intravital imaging of heterotopic ossification. This position is embedded within the SNSF Sinergia project SLIHI4BONE (Nr. 213520; project start 01.04.2023; collaboration partners: M. Bohner, RMS Foundation, Bettlach; R. Müller, ETH Zurich; E. Wehrle, ARI Davos) focusing on a newly-proposed mechanism explaining the formation of bone in soft tissue, also called heterotopic ossification (doi:10.1016/j.mattod.2018.10.036). According to this mechanism, tissue mineralization may provoke a sustained local ionic homeostatic imbalance (SLIHI), and this local decrease in extracellular calcium may modulate inflammation to trigger bone formation. The general project aim is to assess the validity of this mechanism and to use it for healing large bone defects.

Project background

Heterotopic ossification (HO) is a very common and sometimes highly debilitating pathology characterized by the formation of mature bone in soft tissues. The underlying mechanisms are still poorly-understood and therapies to prevent and heal HO have a low efficiency. It is not uncommon that bone has to be removed surgically. This formation of bone in soft tissue is the result of an osteoinductive process during which stem cells are differentiated into bone cells. This property is essential to treat large bone defects. Currently, osteoinduction can be achieved by the implantation of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), but the safety of BMP has been questioned. Another approach is to implant osteoinductive bone graft substitutes, but their potency is low, and the underlying mechanisms are still debated. Demonstrating that a low extracellular calcium concentration is key in triggering bone formation and having a better understanding of this process could open up new opportunities in the design of potent osteoinductive bone graft substitutes and the treatment of impaired bone healing.

Project team and setup: Within the project, we will follow a multidisciplinary collaborative approach for which we are also recruiting 3 PhD students focusing on material science (PhD position at RMS Foundation), advanced in vivo imaging and computation (PhD position at LBB, ETH Zurich) and in vivo molecular biology (PhD position at ARI Davos), where the Postdoc position (LBB, ETH Zurich) will be focusing on the development of multiphoton intravital imaging technology. This multidisciplinary team setup will allow to design calcium phosphate materials with controlled architecture, composition, and to assess their rate of mineralization in vitro and in vivo. The level of extracellular calcium and the tissue response around the materials will be followed by multimodal approaches including (among others) time-lapsed in vivo imaging, multiphoton intravital microscopy, spatial transcriptomics and proteomics.

Job description

For the multiphoton intravital imaging work package within SLIHI4BONE, we are looking for a motivated Postdoc to join the Institute for Biomechanics at ETH Zurich. You will closely interact with the Sinergia collaboration partners at RMS Foundation and ARI Davos:

  • Development of intravital imaging protocols for HO and impaired bone healing using time-lapsed micro-computed tomography and multiphoton microscopy
  • Extension of intravital imaging technology to include ratiometric imaging for the quantification of bone marrow interstitial pH and calcium concentrations
  • Imaging support for in vivo experiments

Your profile

  • PhD degree in physics, biophysics, or engineering
  • Experience in intravital imaging as demonstrated by first author publications is required
  • Previous experience with ratiometric imaging is advantageous
  • Previous experience with in vivo animal models is advantageous
  • Excellent communication skills in English (oral and written) are a must
  • High motivation, strong interest in skeletal research, durability to cope with challenges
  • Ability to solve complex tasks in a highly independent manner
  • Familiarity with a cross-cultural/interdisciplinary environment is an advantage

We offer

  • An interesting and varied job in exciting and innovative organizations
  • Working in a highly committed multidisciplinary team
  • Regular meetings and close collaboration with the Sinergia project partners
  • ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions with an exciting working environment, cultural diversity and attractive offers and benefits
Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, 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 Equal Opportunities and Diversity website 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:

  • Motivation letter
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Publication list
  • Names and contact details of two references

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

Further information about the Laboratory for Bone Biomechanics can be found on our website Questions regarding the position should be directed to Prof. Dr. Ralph Müller at (no applications).

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.


SNSF-funded Postdoc Position in Multiphoton Intravital Imaging of Heterotopic Ossification
Rämistrasse 101 Zürich, Schweiz
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