DC11-project 11: Offloading with additive manufactured insoles using optimally tested designs


The development of foot ulceration in diabetes is multifactorial with known risk factors including neuropathy, vascular disease and biomechanical factors. Offloading the at-risk foot with footwear and foot orthoses is known to reduce the risk of ulceration but often adherence is low and efficacy is variable. Harnessing the capabilities of computer aided design and manufacture presents an opportunity to optimize pressure reduction and personalize the footwear and insole to enhance both ulcer prevention and user experience. In this DIALECT project we go beyond the state-of-the-art and design, manufacture and test novel off-loading devices exploiting machine learning and additive manufacturing techniques to provide personalised solutions.


The doctoral candidate will explore, design, manufacture and test through new paradigms of machine learning, computer-aided design and manufacturing, and additive manufacturing, beyond state-of-the-art custom-made insoles for people with diabetes who are at moderate-to-high-risk for ulcer development. Development will be through in-shoe pressure and usability analyses comparing current and optimized designs and a clinical validation study of final designs in moderate-risk people with diabetes. The candidate will create new design rules that exploit freeform opportunities with additive manufacturing and use machine learning techniques for individual patient optimization. Using in-vivo validation experiments the doctoral candidate will determine pressure offloading efficacy and usability of novel insole products. These advances will create new knowledge to optimise harmful pressure reduction and ulcer prevention.

Secondments will take place at IOR to conduct research on biomechanical-driven CAD design orthotic optimisation and early prototype development and testing; at FFY for research on orthotic design, CAD-CAM technologies and materials for devices utilising 3D printing and CNC for manufacturing, and training of the doctoral candidate on novel additive manufacturing systems and commercialisation of orthotic products and services; and at T3D for essential industrial-based training in insole design automation and additive manufacturing for footwear orthotics.

Our research team

Glasgow Caledonian University’s research is framed around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  The candidate successful candidate will join the Musculoskeletal Health Research Group, an inter-disciplinary research group of health professionals, human movement scientists and engineers. Working across the School of Health and Life Sciences and the School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment the candidate will learn from, and collaborate with, a multi-disciplinary group of researchers with expertise in foot and ankle biomechanics and engineering with a successful track record in European training networks. The candidate will have access to (1) State-of-the-art Human Performance Laboratories; (2) CAD/CAM, Computer Aided Design, and Manufacturing tools together with 3D modeling and analysis software packages. Further other mechanical, 3D printing, and material testing laboratories; (3) materials selection (Granta Edupack) software and (4) strategic academic-health partnerships provides access to the NHS and associated clinical expertise.

External supervision in this project comes from DIALECT Co-ordinator at the Academic Medical Centre (AMC), Amsterdam, one of the foremost research institutions in the Netherlands. The AMC is renowned for research on the diabetic foot with leading roles in the International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot and leading several multicentre nationwide trials. Industry input will be delivered byTaika3D, Finland, an SME working in the field of CAD bespoke orthotic and prosthetic devices with extensive experience in product development, additive manufacturing and CAD and design system development. 

Your experience

  • Candidates should be eligible to enrol for a doctoral program in the UK and have a Master’s degree in: health science; human movement science; biomechanical or mechanical engineering or related field
  • Strong higher education track record and strong, broad scientific curiosity 
  • Strong analytical and communication skills
  • Documented practical lab skills in relevant discipline(s)
  • Demonstrable fluent spoken and written English skills
  • Capable of functioning in an interdisciplinary environment, with researchers, clinicians and patients, requiring interpersonal curiosity and soft skills

In addition, the following experience would be helpful, but not essential:

  • Some experience with additive manufacturing e.g 3D printing and CAD-CAM

We seek a highly motivated scientist who enjoys an interdisciplinary environment and an interdisciplinary project, able to work independently but also as part of a team. The research project should result in a PhD thesis.

Our offer

This PhD position is funded by the UKRI as part of the DIALECT project which is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Doctoral Networks under the EU Research and Innovation Programme: Horizon Europe. You will be appointed as full time PhD student for 3 years with Glasgow Caledonian University. The MSCA programme offers a competitive and attractive salary and working conditions. The successful candidates will receive funding in accordance with the MSCA regulations for early-stage researchers. The funding covers:

  • Living allowance: around €40,800 per year. Living allowance will be adjusted based on the UK coefficient of %136,9 and confirmed upon appointment.
  • Mobility allowance: €600 per month
  • Family allowance: €660 per month (if married and/or with responsibility for dependent children)

Please be aware that these amounts are subject to taxes, the exact salary will be confirmed upon appointment; for more information contact our financial controller, see below. In addition to their individual scientific projects, all doctoral candidates will benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments at European research institutes or footwear companies, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills courses and active participation in workshops and conferences. All payments will be made monthly in Pounds Sterling (£).  The exchange rate may be subject to variation throughout the period of the award.

Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow Caledonian University’s research is framed around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We address the Goals through our applied research via three major societal challenge areas of inclusive societieshealthy lives and sustainable environments. We have a number of thematic interdisciplinary research centres underpinned by several research groups and an inter-sectoral approach to addressing societal challenges locally and internationally (see here for more info). GCU is a modern Scottish university with over 20,000 students and 1,600 staff from more than 100 countries. GCU is the top modern university in Scotland by research power (REF 2021) and is in the top 15 in the UK for allied health research (REF 2021), 91% of our health research has been classed as world-leading and internationally excellent, and our health research impact is ranked 2nd in the UK. It is a leading UK recipient of Erasmus+ research funding to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. GCU generates nearly £1billion worth of economic and social benefit for the UK economy every year and more than £880million to the Scottish economy annually.