Conductive hearing loss is a pathology that affects about 15% of the worldwide population and more than 40% of the elderly. So far, passive implants, made of titanium and hydroxyapatite, are the preferred solution to restore the middle ear function. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of extrusion still occurs (up to 40% in the long term) due to reduced biocompatibility. The applicant (i.e. experienced researcher, ER) studied ear micro-prosthetics during his PhD and aims at developing a new generation of 3D printed bulk micro-prostheses for the middle ear made of collagen type 1 and hydroxyapatite, namely, the native components of the ear bones, to improve the quality of life the European citizens, who are highly prone to conductive deafness due to their longevity. To achieve this ambitious goal, thus maximising the acoustic behaviour of the composite material from its basic unit, the ER needs to learn multiscale design (i.e. from the atomic- to the macro-scale), which will be addressed during the outgoing phase at MIT. Therefore, a dedicated study will be carried out on 3D printing techniques in order to fabricate a set of new prototypes, which will be challenging due to the small size versus high performance of the ossicular prostheses. The ER will investigate and characterize the newly designed prostheses from a topological and acousto-mechanical standpoint at University of Antwerp (2-month secondment) and through a dedicated bioreactor, designed and manufactured on purpose at Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna (Beneficiary) to be used for a biologic assessment at University of Pisa (4-month secondment). The multidisciplinary approach involving acoustics, materials science, engineering, biology and otology will enhance the development of innovative clinically oriented prototypes and will contribute to the ER’s scientific and personal growth in view of a future academic or industrial independent position, based on high specialized skills and international networking.
Fields of science
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Funding SchemeMSCA-IF-GF - Global Fellowships