PhD Position in Machine Learning Models for Human Cardio-respiratory Event Monitoring

Catholic University of Leuven


Automating the interpretation of time-series data (such as acoustic and accelerometer signals) is a primary focus of the KU Leuven Advanced Integrated Sensing lab (ADVISE) research group which resides in the Faculty of Engineering Technology at KU Leuven Geel Campus. A wide range of real-life applications are being targeted such as indoor monitoring of domestic sounds and human movements, precision live stock farming, condition-based monitoring of assets and materials. In total a group of 8 researchers are currently involved in this research track which is being coordinated by Prof. Peter Karsmakers. ( This group is part of the Computer Science Department of the KU Leuven and has a strong link with the DTAI research team (


We are hiring a PhD candidate to participate in the “Plug ’n Patch” personalized VLAIO ICON project that targets an innovative design methodology for medical patches that include customized sensors such as digital stethoscope (microphone) and an accelerometer. Innovative wearable sensors that provide high-quality data are required to monitor persons over a long-time span (e.g. weeks) in order to provide personalized health care. The candidate will mainly focus on automating the process of interpreting heart and respiratory sounds to support clinicians in improving the prognosis and disease monitoring of persons with cardio-pulmonary diseases. Efforts to apply machine learning algorithms to process and analyze medical images have demonstrated tremendous recent success, but similar achievements have not yet been realized for acoustic-based medical data. In this project we target a novel and multidisciplinary methodology that will produce a robust framework for interpreting cardio-respiratory sounds. When detected the results need to be visualized in a way that effectively conveys their meaning to the intended user. As a secondary focus, the candidate will also work on the automated interpretation of acceleration signals that are of interest to keep track of the movement activity of a person (which will provide additional information next to that which is available in the heart and lung sounds). The research will be carried out in close interaction with doctors and biomedical scientists from the Mobile Health Unit (a structural collaboration on mHealth research between UHasselt, Ziekenhuis Oost-Limburg Genk and Jessa Hospital Hasselt). As a researcher you work closely with all the involved partners and are willing to work at the premises of ZOL (Genk) and KU Leuven campus Geel. The candidate will pursue a joint PhD (dual degree) supported by both KU Leuven and UHasselt.


If you recognize yourself in the story below, then you have the profile that fits the project and the research group.
  • I have a master degree in engineering (technology), physics or mathematics and performed above average in comparison to my peers.
  • I’m proficient in written and spoken English.
  • You are highly interested in working with health data and the development of medical applications. 
  • You are eager to, in collaboration with persons without an engineering background, to understand the clinical relevance and medical background of the project.
  • During my courses or prior professional activities, I have gathered some basic experience with signal processing, machine learning, and/or I have a profound interest in these topics.      
  • As a PhD researcher I perform research in a structured and scientifically sound manner. I read technical papers, understand the nuances between different theories and implement and improve methodologies myself. 
  • Based on interactions and discussions with my supervisors and my team colleagues, I set up and update a plan of approach for the upcoming 1 to 3 months to work towards my research goals. I work with a sufficient degree of independence to follow my plan and achieve the goals. I indicate timely when deviations of the plan are required, if goals cannot be met or if I want to discuss intermediate results or issues.
  • In frequent reporting, varying between weekly to monthly, I show the results that I have obtained, and I give a well-founded interpretation of those results. I iterate on my work and my approach based on the feedback of my supervisors which steer the direction of my research.
  • I value being part of a large research community and I am eager to learn how academic research can be linked to industrial innovation roadmaps.
  • During my PhD I want to grow towards following up the project that I am involved in and representing the research group on project meetings or conferences. I see those events as an occasion to disseminate my work to an audience of international experts and research colleagues, and to learn on the larger context of my research and the research project.
  • Experience with scientific data processing software such as Python is a plus.


  • A remuneration package competitive with industry standards in Belgium, a country with a high quality of life and excellent health care system.
  • A chance to pursue a PhD in Engineering and in Health and Life Sciences, typically a 4 year trajectory, in a stimulating and ambitious research environment.  
  • Ample opportunity to develop yourself in both a scientific or an industrial direction, besides opportunities provided by the research group, further doctoral training for PhD candidates is provided in the framework of the Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School (, known for its strong focus on both future scientists and scientifically trained professionals who will valorise their doctoral expertise and competences in a non-academic context. More information on the training opportunities can be found on the following link: 
  • You will work both at ZOL (Genk) and at the KU Leuven campus in Geel. 


To apply for this position, please follow the application tool and enclose:
1.full CV – mandatory
2.motivation letter – mandatory
3.full list of credits and grades of both BSc and MSc degrees (as well as their transcription to English if possible) – mandatory (when you haven’t finished your degree yet, just provide us with the partial list of already available credits and grades)
4.proof of English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, …) - if available
5.two reference letters - if available English version of MSc, or of a recent publication or assignment - if available
For more information please contact Peter Karsmakers, by sending an e-mail to and mention PlugNPatch Vacancy in the title.
You can apply for this job no later than July 20, 2020 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Geel
  • Apply before: July 20, 2020
  • Tags: Industriële Ingenieurswetenschappen

In your application, please refer to