Vacancies 77761-PhD-candidate-visuomotor-control-in-Parkinsons-disease
  • 36 hours a week
  • Bepaalde tijd
  • 4 years
  • Date of publication: 9 January 2020
  • Deadline: 31 January 2020
  • Scale 10A: min € 2422 - max € 3103 gross per month at full employment (excl. vacation bonus and end of year payments)
  • First interview scheduled: 14 February 2020
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Job description

Parkinson’s disease (PD) causes severe balance and gait problems, leading to frequent falls and related injuries. Despite an abundance of research in this field, one fundamental motor skill has been largely ignored; namely, the ability to flexibly interact with our inherently dynamic environment. This interaction involves frequent visuomotor adjustments of ongoing movements, such as rapid step adaptations to avoid a sudden obstacle in our walking path. Recent work shows that people with PD need substantially more time to execute rapid step adjustments to avoid an obstacle. Importantly, poorer obstacle avoidance performance in the lab is associated with a greater risk of falling in daily life. Yet, the mechanisms underlying these PD-related deficits remain elusive.

In this project, we test the hypothesis that dysfunction of the fast visuomotor network – a phylogenetically-conserved subcortical pathway that mediates ultra-fast movement adjustments throughout the whole body – lies at the root of walking adaptability problems in PD. We aim to comprehensively study (dys)function of the fast visuomotor network in people with PD, in both upper and lower limb motor tasks (i.e. while reaching and while stepping). The project involves a collaboration with the Brain and Mind Institute (BMI, Western University, London, Ontario). The PhD candidate will visit BMI (for 9-12 months) for conducting the study on upper-limb visuomotor responses, whereas the lower-limb experiments will be conducted in Nijmegen.

Tasks and responsibilities
  • Designing and conducting assessments of reaching and stepping movements in healthy participants and in people with Parkinson’s disease.
  • Operating specialized equipment for running the experiments (KINARM, GRAIL, C-mill).
  • Analyzing EMG and motion capture data using Matlab.
  • Presenting and writing papers on the study results.


  • A creative, ambitious, and well-organized researcher with a Master’s Degree in Human Movement Science, Neuroscience, Biomedical Technology, or related discipline.
  • A keen interest in neural control of movement, neurology and rehabilitation.
  • Excellent programming skills in Matlab.
  • Experience with analyzing EMG and/or motion capture data.
  • Proficiency in English (in oral and written communication).
  • Ability to communicate with participants in Dutch is a plus.


The department of Rehabilitation provides an (inter)national and stimulating working environment for about 100 clinicians (physicians as well as physical, occupational, and speech-language therapist) and researchers and is an exciting place to perform both translational and applied research in the area of neurorehabilitation. The department is specialized in (1) balance and gait problems in chronic neurological patients, (2) rehabilitation of patients with neuromuscular (mainly muscular dystrophies) and neurodegenerative (e.g. Parkinson, HSP) diseases, and (3) rehabilitation after major trauma (mainly acute phase of spinal cord injury, traumatic amputations, and severe hand injury). The department is well embedded within the university hospital (Radboudumc) and research institutes and has intensive collaborations particularly with the departments of Neurology, Pediatrics, Orthopedics and Neurosurgery. It also works closely together with the rehabilitation centers of the Sint Maartenskliniek (Nijmegen), Tolbrug (Den Bosch), and Klimmendaal (Arnhem).

Research Institutes
At the moment there are more than 1,300 PhD candidates at our medical hospital. This number includes PhD candidates on our pay roll as well as external candidates (those employed somewhere else but researching on our premises).
  • Radboud Institute for Health Sciences: ± 700
  • Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences: ± 400
  • Donders Center for Medical Neurosciences: ± 200
Read what it is like to do a PhD at the Radboud University Medical Center.

Radboudumc strives to be a leading developer of sustainable, innovative and affordable healthcare to improve the health and wellbeing of people and society in the Netherlands and beyond. This is the core of our mission: To have a significant impact on healthcare. To get a better picture of what this entails, check out our strategy.

Read more about what it means to work at Radboudumc and how you can do your part.

Employment conditions

Upon commencement of employment we require a certificate of conduct (Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag, VOG) and there will be, depending on the type of job, a screening based on the provided cv. Radboud university medical center’s HR Department will apply for this certificate on your behalf.

Read more about the Radboudumc employment conditions and what our International Office can do for you when moving to the Netherlands.

Comments and contact information

All additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from Dr. Vivian Weerdesteyn, PhD, Associate Professor, (+31) (0)24 365 52 86Use the Apply button to submit your application.

Please apply before January 31, 2020.
Recruitment agencies are asked not to respond to this job posting.

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