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Early stage researcher position (Phd) - Optimizing fitting in poorly performing younger children

Cochlear is the global market leader in implantable hearing solutions and is a top 100 medical device company. Our implantable hearing devices include cochlear implant systems (CI) and bone anchored hearing aids (Baha™). Cochlear Technology Centre is part of our global R&D network and employs talented engineers to design and develop new products and technology platforms for implantable hearing devices.

Key Responsibilities

In order to help Cochlear bring new products to market that help people with hearing loss, we are recruiting for an early stage research fellow (PhD student) in the field of optimizing fitting in poorly performing younger children, starting in June 2014. This position has been opened in the framework of 'iCARE', a European research and training network (Marie Curie INT) on 'improving Children's Auditory REhabilitation'. iCARE is an international and interdisciplinary consortium from academia, industry and socio-economic agencies and offers a choice of 11 PhD and 3 postdoc positions, starting June or July 2014. Each project is supervised by a multidisciplinary team of experts and will benefit from extensive training.

The auditory input in the early years of the developing child is critical to her/his eventual hearing performance and consequent full participation in society. The accurate prediction of eventual performance from pre-operative indicators remains a significant challenge. Specifically, the question of whether an individual has reached her/his individual optimal performance remains difficult. A particular emphasis of this project is the optimization of fitting in young children (younger than 10 years) who are poor performers with their cochlear implants.

This early stage researcher position investigates both the developmental curve of the young child following implantation, and develops and evaluates the application of the latest wearable technology to the quantification of the actual auditory ecology of the child. The project will then go on to develop tools that assess the individual's curve of development versus the predicted development curve.

To be successful in this role you will deliver prototype technology that can monitor a child's progress and guide the clinical intervention required to achieve the best outcome expected for that child, given the best predictors of outcome potential. In this role, you will be responsible for

  • research on and extension of current datalogging technology in the wearable cochlear-implant sound processors, in co-operation with the product engineers of Cochlear, to record richer information regarding both the auditory environment of the child and their speech production. An interim project towards this goal would entail determining the relationship between the existing datalogging technology in the wearable cochlear-implant sound processors and the capabilities of available offline dedicated systems such as the LENA language research tool. This would lead to the formulation of clinical intervention guidance in response to the knowledge thus gained, such that intelligent data-logging can become a mainstream tool in ensuring that children achieve their predicted language potential through the use of their cochlear implant.
  • methodologies and tools that more accurately predict hearing outcome for the individual versus the implant population average
  • diagnostic methods that can suggest timely individually tailored interventions (such as device method adjustments or targeted training)

During your employment at Cochlear, you will have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to Cochlear's successful history of innovation by providing answers to this issue within our field. You'll work collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team of experts: scientific supervision will be provided by Dr Thomas Stainsby (Cochlear), and Prof Dr. Astrid Van Wieringen, Dept Neurosciences KU Leuven, where the research fellow will be enrolled as a PhD student.

Key Requirements

To add value to Cochlear in this role you will be able to demonstrate the following skills and experience in your application and at interview:

  • A university degree in audiology, speech science, signal processing, or a closely related field that qualifies for PhD training.
  • Demonstrable audiological experience in working with very young children, their training and rehabilitation.
  • A good technical competence for data analysis (SPSS) and preferentially test development (Matlab,  Python, C/C++, Objective C).
  • A strong fascination with research, combined with a highly developed international drive, demonstrated through a willingness to move to Belgium.
  • Good verbal and written communication skills in English, as well as willingness to learn the Dutch language, which is the language used in the experiments.

Marie Curie ITN regulations: Marie Curie funding is intended to promote mobility of early career researchers within the research community. Candidates must: a) have received a degree (Bachelor or Master's) that qualifies them for PhD training, b) should not have undertaken more than 4 years of fulltime research subsequent to that degree, and c) should not have been resident within the 'country of interest' for more than 12 months within the 3 years prior to 1 June 2014. For a full description of the eligibility conditions see: http://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/.

Working for Cochlear:

Cochlear pioneered and is the global leader in the research and development, manufacture and marketing of implantable hearing solutions. Cochlear's global headquarters is located in Sydney, Australia. A success story in the commercialisation of R&D, Cochlear has a 70% share of the global market, employs more than 2,500 people worldwide, operates directly in over 20 countries and sells in over 100 countries. Over 250,000 people across more than 100 countries now experience hearing as a recipient of a Cochlear hearing solution. Cochlear can offer:

  • The Work - A high impact job supporting world leading technology
  • The Organisation - A global leader in active implantable medical device hearing technology
  • The Opportunity - To make a difference to the quality of people's lives

As a world-leader in innovative medical devices, Cochlear encourages continuous learning for employees. Visit www.cochlear.com/careers for more information.

Working for Cochlear Technology Centre, Mechelen, Belgium:

Cochlear Technology Centre is Cochlear's largest Research & Development department outside Australia. Our enthusiastic colleagues work in a multidisciplinary setting to develop new technologies, products and manufacturing processes that will be used to develop new ground breaking hearing implant systems. Close links of collaboration exist between our centre and leading technology providers and universities over Europe. Our team is characterised by a familiar, informal and dynamic culture. The best in each of us enriches all of us. Apply here by completing your application form online.

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