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Doctor, my heel has a spike! What does that mean?

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Academic background
Sciences, Health Sciences
Host campus
Master’s, PhD
Dr Johann Zwirner


The heel is far away from being the most obvious part of the body. But do you know what it’s also far away from? Being boring! Developmentally, the heel is one of nature’s latest inventions resulting from us starting to walk upright at some point. Doing so, our heel enables us to do all the fun things like playing rugby, bounce on trampolines or stand at a rock concert for hours. But as usual in life, this doesn’t come without costs. Many people suffer from painful heels. Doctors often have difficulties treating this condition as the list of possible causes is long. One condition that has a rather negative reputation is heel spurs, which describes bony outgrowths of the heel bone at the sites of its large tendinous insertions.

Recent findings of our group suggest that heel spurs themselves are likely perfectly fine and form a biomechanical adaptation of the bone rather than being a troublemaker per se. And that’s where you come on board! We look for someone who is keen to explore the biomechanical significance of heel spurs and become an expert on the lowermost part of our amazing bodies. You will be using cutting-edge mechanical devices as well as 3D scanners and printers for that project. But no worries, we’ll show you how all that works.

Interested? Then send me an email right now. I’m happy to give you an intro in-person, show you our facilities and introduce you to our team.


Dr Johann Zwirner