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PhD in Psychology Comprehensive Characterisation of The Prostate Using Multidimensional Mri

Cardiff University, UK is inviting excellent students to apply for a PhD position in computer science. The deadline to apply is August 30, 2019.

This project aims to develop an efficient diffusion-relaxometry MRI framework for comprehensive microstructure-characterisation in the prostate with ultra-strong gradients.

This PhD project is well suited to students who would like to combine their knowledge of programming, computational modelling, physics and mathematics to better understand the structural changes in biological tissue in health and disease.

Diffusion MRI (dMRI) is the preferred tool to study tissue-microstructure in health and disease. Notwithstanding the increasing amount of studies showcasing the sensitivity of dMRI features to diseases, it is increasingly apparent that the ultimate aim of being unambiguously specific to microstructural characteristics cannot be achieved with current methodology.

At Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), we are developing MRI methodology and have access to an MRI system with ultra-strong gradients (one of three worldwide) to boost the performance of dMRI.

In addition, an emerging zeitgeist in microstructural-MRI is that combining multiple MRI-modalities will yield a more complete picture of tissue-physiology. This has renewed hope of establishing biophysical models for healthy and diseased tissue.

We have recently developed multi-modal MRI protocols to establish correlations between physical and chemical tissue-properties: diffusion MRI provides information on the size, shape, and orientation of tissue-compartments, while relaxometry can add complementary information on chemical composition.

This rich data has the potential to improve the disentanglement of different tissue-compartments and to use approaches with fewer assumptions than commonly used biophysical models, which is important in disease-characterisation where the number and properties of tissue-constituents are unknown. So far, these efforts have been solely focussed on the brain.

The human prostate is a heterogeneous structure composed of compartments with different size, shape, and chemical properties. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, hence there is an ongoing need to optimise diagnostic techniques.

Transrectal ultrasound guided prostate biopsy acquires systematic samples of the prostate, but it could miss cancerous parts between the needles. Moreover, the procedure is unpleasant for the patient and there is a risk of infection. With MRI it is possible to image the whole organ non-invasively, facilitating longitudinal assessment.

As part of this project, you will implement new sequences on CUBRIC's Siemens ultra-strong gradient scanner. In addition, you will develop methodology for optimised image processing and modelling of diffusion-relaxometry data in prostate.

The project would suit a physics, engineering, maths or computer science graduate with an interest in neuroscience and brain structure. Equally it would suit a neuroscientist with a strong mathematical and computational interest. The project is a collaboration of Cardiff University with Siemens Healthineers that will tutor the sequence development activity.

Our research labs are equipped with the state-of-the-art facilities to address key questions of basic and clinical neuroscience, and our research facilities include one of Europe's most powerful brain scanners, as well as a purpose-built environment for patients and volunteers taking part in medical research and clinical trials.


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