Edinburgh Imaging

30 Oct 17. Job - PhD vacancy ED14

Computer modelling of the retinal vasculature for biomarker discovery in MS

PhD Vacancy – 2018-SPRINT-EDI4

Project title: Computer modelling of the retinal vasculature for biomarker discovery in MS

Supervisors: Dr Tom MacGillivray, Professor Baljean Dhillion

Edinburgh Imaging Facilities, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS)

With access to different machines in Edinburgh, the student will combine images through development of novel post-processing to build an unparalleled view or description of the retinal vasculature not previously attempted, including the smallest discernible vessels around the macula to the main arcades near the optic nerve and their branches extending out to the periphery. The student will probe for a vascular mechanism in the pathogenesis of MS using novel metrics and combine with established measures of neuroretinal anatomy to investigate association with disease via machine learning and statistics.


The eye, with common embryonic origins to the brain and other shared anatomical features such as a blood–tissue barrier, is an area of the central nervous system amenable to non-invasive study. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) measures thickness of nerve fibres in the retina, with MS patients showing axonal loss through a marked thinning of this layer. OCT has also revealed a lower density of blood vessels around the optic nerve in MS while our own pilot data from fundus imaging suggests differences in venules in the peripheral retina associate with disease. Retinal metrics may reflect neurodegeneration and neurovascular change with possible utility in detection and tracking of MS over time.



  • The closing date is Friday 8th of December 2017


  • Full details are on the Edinburgh Neuroscience website, University of Edinburgh with links to the online application form

Applicant details

  • Honours degree, 2.1 or above
  • Programming competence - e.g. Matlab
  • Graduate of an appropriate discipline - e.g. Engineering, Physics, Mathematics, Informatics
  • Team player ready to work in a collegiate environment
  • Experience of clinical studies and clinical statistics
  • Experience with imaging and image analysis, especially medical and specifically retinal
  • Experience with mathematical modelling of biomedical systems

Applications are now open for SPRINT-MND/MS: a Scotland-wide PhD scheme for research into motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis. Projects, encompassing a wide range of topics including discovery, social and clinical science, are available at Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews Universities.

The studentships include stipend, fees, consumables/travel and structured opportunities for patient/public engagement.

The deadline for applications is 8 December 2017.

For more information, see http://www.edinburghneuroscience.ed.ac.uk/edneurophd/sprint-mndms-phd-programme.