PhD position: New technologies for the diagnosis of sleep disorders

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 11 Aug 2019


Department of Electrical Engineering

Reference number


Job description

Academic environment
Eindhoven University of Technology ( ) is one of Europe’s top technological universities, situated at the heart of a most innovative high-tech region. Thanks to a wealth of collaborations with industry and academic institutes, our research has real-world impact. In 2015, TU/e was ranked 106th in the Times Higher Educational World University ranking and 49th in the Shanghai ARWU ranking (engineering). TU/e has around 3,000 employees and 2,300 PhD students (half of which international, representing about 70 nationalities).

TU/e is teaming up with Philips Research and leading clinical partners in a large-scale research collaboration called e/MTIC, aimed at improving the quality of care while lowering costs. The e/MTIC sleep research program focuses in part on improved diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders, with the Kempenhaeghe Sleep Expertise Center serving as the clinical partner. For this focus area a multidisciplinary team of 7 PhD students is active, supervised by a multidisciplinary team of clinical, industrial and academic experts. To facilitate intensive multidisciplinary collaboration, these students are embedded for a part of their time at Kempenhaeghe and at Philips Research, both located in the direct vicinity of TU/e. The vacancy at hand concerns of a PhD position that is meant to reinforce this team. 

Research focus

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) and insomnia are the two most prevalent sleep disorders and it is well established that both OSAS and insomnia are independently associated with cardiovascular disease and mental disorders. Even more, it has been shown that comorbid OSAS and insomnia (COMISA) are associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular illness when compared to the single occurrence of each sleep disorder. Recent developments show that there is growing attention that insomnia and OSAS frequently co-exist and that there is a need for more accurate diagnoses and COMISA-specific treatment.

Adequate treatment requires accurate diagnosis. There appears to be an absence of a diagnostic procedure that has common grounds for co-existing OSAS and insomnia. After all, OSAS diagnosis relies on a single night polysomnography (PSG) in a sleep lab while insomnia diagnosis relies on the analysis of self-reported two-weeks sleep/wake diary. As a consequence, sleep specialists who focus more on one of the two disorders, e.g. pulmonologists on OSA and psychologists on insomnia, might miss the comorbid condition. As such, sleep specialists could benefit from tools that enhance the detection and characterization of COMISA.

Recent technological innovations enable sleep specialists to gain insights of a patient’s sleep pattern by means of a wrist-worn photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor. Despite a mild reduction in accuracy as compared to PSG, the advantage of a PPG sensor is that it yields objective sleep measurements for prolonged periods. When combined with a connected digital sleep wake dairy and a specific questionnaire, COMISA could be more easily detected.

The current PhD project will build on the knowledge from previous and ongoing e/MTIC projects on using PPG sensors in OSAS patients and developments of digital applications in sleep disorders.

Key scientific aims of this PhD project are:

  • Literature research in the topic of comorbid OSAS and insomnia
  • Setting up and running a prospective study using cardiorespiratory (PPG) based methods in combination with other physiological and psychological data, in patients with suspected OSA, insomnia or the combination.
  • Collection of cardiovascular and other physiological data and psychological data in a representative, established group of clinically diagnosed comorbid OSAS and insomnia patients
  • Development of robust and reliable analysis techniques to detect subtypes within the sample of COMISA patients based on cardiovascular and other physiological and psychological data
  • Development of algorithms to objectively diagnose COMISA based on cardiovascular and physiological and psychological data of the patients
  • Development and validation of a COMISA questionnaire to triage first-visit suspected COMISA patients
  • Define hypotheses for treatment based on identified subtypes, which can be trialed and confirmed in a separate PhD project

Job requirements

We are looking for candidates who:

  • have a strong MSc degree (or planned to obtain MSc in the near future) in Technical Medicine or related relevant fields (e.g. Biomedical Signal Processing , Cognitive Neuroscience);
  • have specific and demonstrable (e.g. internship report) knowledge about signal processing and signal analysis (specific knowledge about e.g. cardiac and/or respiratory signals is a merit), and statistical methods (e.g. cluster analysis);
  • have experience in conducting biomedical human experiments using physiological parameters;
  • have strong background in methodology and experienced with physiological signal analysis, data processing and statistical methods;
  • can think out of the box, distinguish main lines from details, and provide structure to their work;
  • have excellent multidisciplinary team working and communication skills;
  • written fluency in English, for internal reporting and external publications;
  • spoken fluency in Dutch and English.

Conditions of employment

We offer a challenging job in a dynamic and ambitious university through a fixed-term appointment for a period of 4 years. The research must be concluded with the attainment of a Ph.D. degree. As an employee of the university you will receive a competitive salary as well as excellent employment conditions. The salary starts at € 2325.-per month (gross) in the first year, increasing up to € 2972.- per month (gross) in the last year. Moreover, an 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year allowance is provided annually. Assistance for finding accommodation can be given. The university offers an attractive package of fringe benefits such as excellent technical infrastructure, child care, savings schemes, and excellent sports facilities.

TU/e also offers you the opportunity for personal development by developing your social and communication skills. We do this by offering every PhD student a series of courses in the PROOF program as an excellent addition to your scientific education.

Information and application

Additional Information

If you are interested in this position you can apply by using the 'Apply now'-button'. Please send us (only pdf files are accepted:)

  • cover letter explaining your motivation and qualifications for the position;
  • detailed Curriculum Vitae (including a list of publications);
  • list of courses taken at the Bachelor and Master level including grades;
  • electronic copy of your MSc thesis (if it is not available, please explain the reason);
  • contact information of two references.

Please keep in mind; you can upload only 5 documents up to 2 MB each

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