ETH Zurich is one of the leading universities of the world with a strong focus on science and engineering. In 2010 it established the Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC) in collaboration with the National Research Foundation (NRF) to do interdisciplinary research on pressing problems.

In collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU)Duke – NUS, the National Health Group (NHG), National University Health System (NUHS), and SingHealth, SEC is undertaking a research programme on “Future Health Technologies (FHT)“. It addresses some immanent health challenges by developing a future-oriented Mobile Digital Health Concept that tackles the increase in patients suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and stroke, as a consequence of a rapidly ageing population with mobile digital technologies, covering the value chain from acute care to patient’s private homes.

Project background

The Connected Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Module (Module 3) will develop enabling technologies that provide minimally supervised high-quality interventions via a “rehab gym” equipped with clinical intelligence. Available technologies will include new robotic devices and brain-computer interfaces that are tailored to the individual patient’s needs, linking unobtrusive technical assessments via multiple sensors with interventions in real or virtual environments.

Module 3 will develop and validate new tools for quantifying short-term and long-term rehabilitation outcomes (i.e. via specifically designed wearables, instrumented objects and automated assessments, which potentially interact with an FHT App) (Project 1), delivering rehabilitation training at all stages of the rehabilitation process and in a minimally supervised manner (i.e. via new therapy modalities using brain-machine interfaces and virtual reality (Project 2) as well as mobile and wearable rehabilitation robotics (Project 3)) and providing assistance in permanently impaired patients (i.e. via new wearable assistive robotics) (Project 4). We will, for the first time, develop and evaluate a technology-supported therapy and assistance concept for the upper extremity which spans across the continuum of care, i.e. extending from application at the bedside, to rehabilitation services provided by community centres and finally to patients’ homes. The collected data from devices across all projects will enable the identification of biomarkers for predicting recovery and treatment response, development of a personalised long-term care concept for stroke patients and estimation of social and economic long-term outcomes (i.e. value estimation).

Job description

As a PhD researcher within project 4 (wearable assistive robotics) you will be responsible for the development and evaluation as well as the application of wearable robotic technologies that can provide assistance to post-stroke patients in daily life activities. More specifically, your work will focus on evaluating and improving an existing actuated lightweight hand exoskeleton for neurorehabilitation (https://youtu.be/PZiQg0wIxQM). Following a user-centered approach taking into account the needs and requirements of the target populations, you will identify key factors and enablers to ensure the usability and applicability in daily life situations, as well as the impact it may have on specific users (case studies). These findings as well as the developed user-centered methodology will be applied to other technologies within the Module and the overall FHT program through constant exchange between interdisciplinary partners and dedicated workshops. The work will be performed in close collaboration with our research partners at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).

Your tasks will include:

  • Systematic evaluation (and technical development) of wearable robotic technologies (hand exoskeleton) that can provide assistance to post-stroke patients in daily life activities
  • Leveraging an iterative user-centred design approach by empathizing with users, defining user needs, involving multiple stakeholders to further develop the hand exoskeleton, evaluate its technical specifications, and study its usability for providing assistance in daily life activities
  • Clinical application/evaluation of the developed devices in post-stroke subjects in collaboration with local hospitals, including direct interaction with post-stroke subjects
  • Promoting user-centred design and applying the developed methodologies for the improvement and evaluation of other technologies within the FHT program
  • Communication of research outcomes at international conferences and in peer-reviewed journals

The earliest starting date for the position is February 2021. If it is necessary for the applicant to apply for a work permit in Singapore, a later starting date is expected. The position is funded for min. 3 years.

Your profile

  • A MSc in Health Science and Technology, Movement Science, Industrial Design, Human Factors Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering or related fields
  • A strong interest in neurorehabilitation and developing and applying robotic technologies for neurorehabilitation
  • Experience with the development or evaluation of robotic technologies, ideally in the field of neurorehabilitation, and strong knowledge in physical human-robot interaction, user-centred design approaches, usability evaluation and human movement science
  • Strong interest in the clinical, and home-use applications of neurorehabilitation robotics
  • Motivation to work and exchange with clinicians and with target end-users of neurorehabilitation technology in the form of user testing, focus groups and workshops. This requires excellent communication skills
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills in English
  • Scientific curiosity and motivation to perform scientifically rigorous experimental work

Singapore-ETH Centre

The Singapore-ETH Centre provides a multicultural and interdisciplinary environment to researchers working on diverse themes focussed on sustainable and liveable cities, resilient urban systems, and patient-centric healthcare. The centre is home to a community of over 100 doctoral, postdoctoral and professorial researchers working in three main programmes: Future Cities Laboratory, Future Resilient Systems, and Future Health Technologies.Working, teaching and research at Singapore-ETH CentreGet connected


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

  • Cover letter outlining your motivation and experience in the field
  • CV including certificates (e.g. Master’s and/or Bachelor’s degree)
  • Transcript of records.

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

For further information about our research and projects, please visit www.relab.ethz.ch. More information about the Connected Rehabilitation Module of the FHT programme is available here: www.fht.ethz.ch/research/Connected-rehabilitation-technology-assistive-devices.

Questions (not applications) regarding the position should be directed to Dr. Olivier Lambercy, olivier.lambercy@hest.ethz.ch and Dr. Christoph Kanzler, christoph.kanzler@sec.ethz.ch.

Apply online now

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