Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)

Doctoral Position Sustainability of Medical Devices

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Job description

The Experimental Neurology Laboratory at Université Libre de Bruxelles (NEURO/ULB), the Bio- Electro- And Mechanical Systems Departement at Université Libre de Bruxelles (BEAMS/ULBand the Artificial Intelligence Lab at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (AI/VUB) announce their Fast AI-driven Dry EEG System for the Identification of Nonconvonvulsive Seizures in Unconscious patients (FADING SUN).

FADING SUN aims to design a new approach for diagnosing and predicting epileptic seizures in acutely ill unconscious patients. Because seizures can occur without overt clinical manifestations, their identification relies on the prolonged recording of electrical brain activity with electroencephalography (EEG). With the currently available technology, this method is costly and time-consuming and requires qualified technical staff and expert neurologists, both of which being only available during office hours. These factors result in an important gap in clinical care as most patients with seizures are admitted outside office hours, leading to deleterious delays in both diagnosis and treatment. This project aims to tackle these limitations by laying the hardware and software foundations of a fast and easy-to-use diagnostic system, combining dry EEG electrodes optimized for this specific purpose and novel Artificial Intelligence methods. We envision that such a system could provide accurate diagnostic information 24/7 at the bedside, without requiring experienced staff, thus also reducing cost.

Within this project, BEAMS/ULB offers a research position in Biomedical Engineering, more specifically in  the  sustainability  of  medical  devices.  The  PhD  research  consists  of  an exploratory  project for a multidisciplinary evaluation of the sustainability of medical devices. The project's long-term goal is to develop a semi-quantitative evaluation methodology that can be deployed to question projects at an early stage and evaluate established technologies. This methodology will encompass all dimensions of  sustainability (environmental,  social,  economic)  and  will   therefore   rely   on   and   develop new multidisciplinary collaborations. Emphasis will be placed on identifying tools and quantifying relevant indicators for medical devices. During the course of the PhD, the candidate will not only develop this methodology but also apply it to the real-life example of dry EEG electrodes. This will include a comparative analysis of available materials, design, manufacturing and recycling process. Results from this analysis will be directly applied to the ongoing development of the electrode.

Such an approach towards sustainable development seems essential to us for this project and, more generally, whatever the medical device developed. The sustainability of the healthcare sector remains hardly questioned. It is, however, not negligible, and climate change directly impacts health. It is considered that the health sector is responsible for ~5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, with annual growth of around 5% [1]. It corresponds to approximately four times Australia's GHG emissions [2]. Besides, there is an ~80% increase in related mortality among people over 65, reaching 345,000 deaths in 2018 [1]. In the United States, the indirect impact of the healthcare system represents an estimated burden of 405,000 to 470,000 disability-adjusted  life-years (DALYs), comparable to the 44,000–98,000 people who die in hospitals each year in the U.S. because of preventable medical errors [3]. In addition, the GHG emissions of the medical sector continue to increase [1], despite a slight decrease in some countries [4], which is incompatible with the Paris Agreement. Focusing on medical devices, their impact through procurement was estimated to be 21% of France's health sector GHG emissions and is the second largest category after drug procurement [5]. It does not consider their energy consumption, generated waste, and use of toxic substances, which also have non-negligible impacts [6], [7].

In this context, it is necessary to address the question of the sustainability of medical devices, which is today a problem seldom tackled, or in a poor manner [8], [9]. The PhD research consists then in an exploratory project for a multidisciplinary evaluation of the sustainability of medical devices.

The project's long-term goal is to develop a semi-quantitative evaluation methodology that can be deployed to question projects at an early stage of development and evaluate established technologies. This methodology will encompass all dimensions of sustainability (environmental, social, economic) and will therefore rely on and develop new multidisciplinary collaborations. Emphasis will be placed on identifying tools and quantifying relevant indicators for medical devices.

The researcher will be starting on January 2023. He/she will be based at ULB, located in Brussels (Belgium), and the work will be performed in close collaboration with all the partners. The Ph.D. is planned over four years. Funding is available for nine months, within which period the applicant will be required to apply for an extension.

Profile

We are looking for a highly motivated engineer, bioengineer, or environmental scientist with a specific interest in sustainability, prepared to integrate a team of biomedical engineers and neurologists, and eager to build multidisciplinary collaborations with economists, environmental scientists, public health scientists, and sociologists.

Interested?

Interested candidates are requested to send their applications to Pr. Antoine Nonclercq (antoine.nonclercq@ulb.be) and Pr. Alain Delchambre (alain.Delchambre@ulb.be), including a cover letter describing yourself and your interests, your resume, and a recommendation letter from at least one reference person.

Bibliography

[1] M. Romanello et al., ‘The 2021 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: code red for a healthy future’,

The Lancet, vol. 398, no. 10311, pp. 1619–1662, 2021, doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01787-6.

[2] Hannah Ritchie, Max Roser, and Pablo Rosado, ‘CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions’, Our World in Data, 2020, Accessed:

Nov. 05, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://ourworldindata.org/co2-and-other-greenhouse-gas-emissions

[3] M. J. Eckelman and J. D. Sherman, ‘Estimated Global Disease Burden From US Health Care Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions’,

Am J Public Health, vol. 108, no. S2, pp. S120–S122, 2018, doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2017.303846.

[4] P. P. Pichler, I. S. Jaccard, U. Weisz, and H. Weisz, ‘International comparison of health care carbon footprints’, Environmental

Research Letters, vol. 14, no. 6, May 2019, doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/ab19e1.

[5] The Shift Project, ‘Décarboner la santé’, 2021.

[6] E. Rodríguez de Santiago et al., ‘Reducing the environmental footprint of gastrointestinal endoscopy: European Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ESGE) and European Society of Gastroenterology and Endoscopy Nurses and Associates (ESGENA) Position Statement’, Endoscopy, vol. 54, no. 8, pp. 797–826, Aug. 2022, doi: 10.1055/a-1859-3726.

[7] J. Moultrie, L. Sutcliffe, and A. Maier, ‘Exploratory study of the state of environmentally conscious design in the medical

device industry’, J Clean Prod, vol. 108, pp. 363–376, Dec. 2015, doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.06.014.

[8] F. Degavre et al., ‘Searching for Sustainability in Health Systems: Toward a Multidisciplinary Evaluation of Mobile Health Innovations’, Sustainability (Switzerland), vol. 14, no. 9, pp. 1–17, 2022, doi: 10.3390/su14095286.

[9] A. C. Sousa, A. Veiga, A. C. Maurício, M. A. Lopes, J. D. Santos, and B. Neto, ‘Assessment of the environmental impacts of medical devices: a review’, Environment, Development and Sustainability, vol. 23, no. 7. pp. 9641–9666, 2021. doi: 10.1007/s10668-020-01086-1.

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Job details

Title
Doctoral Position Sustainability of Medical Devices
Location
Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 50 Brussels, Belgium
Published
2022-11-24
Application deadline
Unspecified
Job type
PhD
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