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05 Jan 17. Job - PhD vacancy

PhD opportunity to investigate magnetisation transfer imaging biomarkers of demyelination & remyelination in multiple sclerosis (MS).

PhD opportunity with co-supervision between Edinburgh Imaging's Prof Adam Waldman, and  the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences' Dr Peter Connick.

This is a SPRINT-MND/MS (Edinburgh) project, with funding via a Competition Studentship (UK/EU) with deadline for application on Friday, 20 January, 2017. 

The information below is copied from the primary website advertising the post.

Project Code: 

2017-SPRINT-EDI1

Description:

Disruption of myelin and axonal integrity is closely related to disability in multiple sclerosis, and there is a need for non-invasive imaging biomarkers of tissue ultrastructure; to identify aggressive MS phenotypes, monitor disease progression and repair, and detect therapeutic response to existing and new disease modifying therapies.

Magnetisation transfer ratio (MTR) measures allow myelin content to be probed by measuring exchange processes between macromolecules and free water; they have been widely applied in MS, add value to conventional MRI (1) and provide potential trial endpoints for remyelination (2). Specificity is however limited by variations in T1 relaxation effects. MT saturation imaging (MTsat) is less vulnerable to these variations, can be applied in both brain and spinal cord, and preliminary data indicate improved specificity for MS-related damage (3).

The proposed prospective quantitative imaging biomarker study will constitute a substudy of FutureMS. It will leverage MRI, clinical, biomarker and genomic data from this large, well-phenotyped longitudinal cohort, together with facilities and expertise in Edinburgh Imaging.

MTR and MTsat will be measured in ‘T2-visible’ MS lesions and defined regions of normal appearing white matter (NAWM) at two time points 1 year apart. Cross sectional variation and longitudinal change will be evaluated using histogram-based analysis, and correlated with parameters outlined above.

Short interval test/retest for MT measures will also be established in a small subgroup of FUTURE-MS subjects and healthy volunteers.

Quantitative diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) which provides complimentary information on white matter tract integrity, based on anisotropy of tissue water diffusion, will also be available for co-analysis.

Prerequisites:

  • Good honours degree in physics, engineering, computer science, neuroscience, psychology or a biological science subject.
  • Interest in medical imaging and image analysis.
  • Some computing skills and basic knowledge of statistics is required.

Please contact your intended supervisor to discuss the project and your suitability for it before submitting your application.

The project is a part of SPRINT-MND/MS, a new Scotland-wide PhD scheme for research into motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis. Projects, encompassing a wide range of topics including laboratory, clinical, and social sciences, are available at Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews Universities. This exciting initiative provides a great opportunity for budding researchers in any field related to MND or MS to join Scotland’s network of world-leading scientists and health professionals.

Additional Project Info: 

Studentships are for three years and include a standard non-clinical stipend*, UK/EU fees* and an allowance for consumables and travel. The cohort of SPRINT students will also be offered opportunities to attend clinics and meet patients, undertake ‘taster’ placements in a different field, and participate in public engagement and researcher networking events. *Clinical and/or non-UK/EU applicants are eligible to apply. However, because any shortfall in stipend or fees must be met by the supervisory team, written agreement from the supervisor must accompany the application.