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PhD Studentship Quantitative Optoacoustic Imaging for Assessment of Cancer Prognosis

University of Cambridge, UK has an opening PhD position in computational biology. Potential candidates should apply before November 30, 2018.

The Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute (CRUK CI) is a joint venture between the Charity, Cancer Research UK, and the University of Cambridge. The Institute has excellent state-of-the-art facilities and research ranges from basic cancer biology and computational biology through to translational research and clinical application. Graduate students play a pivotal role in the continuing success of our research programmes and gaining a studentship in the Institute is an excellent opportunity to start a research career in an environment committed to training outstanding cancer research scientists of the future.

Dr Sarah Bohndiek, Head of the VISIONLab, wishes to appoint a student to work on the project entitled: Quantitative optoacoustic imaging for assessment of cancer prognosis

The VISIONLab develops novel imaging approaches for early cancer detection and evaluation of disease prognosis. Our imaging innovations arise primarily from low cost optics and photonics technologies, applied both in cancer models and in patients. We are particularly interested in developing methods to interrogate the cancer metabolism and the tumour microenvironment. Importantly, we place emphasis on biological validation of the imaging biomarkers that we measure, connecting our non-invasive imaging signatures with the molecular processes that generate them.

Optoacoustic imaging is an emerging clinical technology that combines the high contrast of optical imaging with the spatial resolution of ultrasound imaging. Recent work in the VISIONLab has shown that this technology can be used to identify tumour vascular function, relevant to cancer development and progression, at unprecedented resolution and depth in vivo. Nonetheless the ability to translate this technology from preclinical application to routine clinical use depends on our ability to overcome significant challenges in biological validation. This PhD project will focus on developing methodology that enables accurate identification of spectral signatures relating to structural and molecular changes in the tissue as cancer progresses. Initial validation will be performed in vivo, using small animal models of cancer, followed by imaging in pilot patient trials in the clinic. The student will have the opportunity to work across multiple research environments and departments. It will also involve a significant amount of external industrial collaboration.

The ideal candidate must have (or expect to obtain) a 1st or 2:1 honours degree in physics, engineering or computer science. Candidates with previous related industrial experience and a strong interest in the project will also be considered. We strongly value a candidate with the desire to learn, create and innovate.

The project will combine a significant computational element with experimental imaging experience. Background knowledge of programming languages used for quantitative data analysis (e.g. Matlab, Python), as well as interest in computational methods is thus desirable. The successful candidate should also have a strong interest in experimental research, including and acquiring in vivo imaging data. Additional relevant skills include: demonstrably excellent oral and written communication skills; strong team working skills; an ability to take initiative to solve problems; strong motivation in driving projects forward; and a significant critical thinking capability. Examples of any past experience that demonstrates these characteristics should be highlighted in the cover letter that accompanies any application. We expect the candidate will develop into an independent experimental researcher and will present their work in academic journals, at conferences. Candidates with previous experience of in vivo imaging or biomedical optics, for example during a Masters or Diploma degree, are particularly encouraged to apply.

More information about the VISIONLab can be found on our website (www.bohndieklab.org). Requests for more information about the project or questions related to candidate experience should be made to Dr Sarah Bohndiek (seb53@cam.ac.uk) with the subject line “Optoacoustic PhD 2018” before the application to the University is complete.

This project is funded by a Cancer Research UK studentship that includes full funding for University and College fees and a stipend of 19,000 per annum.

No nationality restrictions apply to Cancer Research UK funded studentships. Applications are invited from recent graduates or final year undergraduates who hold or expect to gain a first/upper second class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject from any recognised university worldwide.

All applications need to be made using the University Applicant Portal. Please visit: https://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/cvcrpdmsc for further information about the course and to access the applicant portal.

Reference Request: The names and contact details of two academic referees who have agreed to act on your behalf.

Research: If you wish to be considered for more than one studentship, please enter the names of all of the supervisors you wish to consider your application in the ‘Research summary’ text box. If you only wish your application to be considered by a single supervisor, then please enter their name in the ‘Research Supervisor’ text box. Please describe your past ‘Research experience’ in the appropriate text box.

Course Specific Questions: Your statement of interest (limit of 2,500 characters) should explain why you wish to be considered for the studentship and which qualities and experience you will bring to the role. Please also state how you learned of the studentship.

Supporting Documents: Please upload your CV (PDF file), which should include a list of the examinations taken at undergraduate level and if possible, your examination results

The closing date for applications is 30 November 2018, with interviews expected to take place in December/January.


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