Edinburgh Imaging

18 Sep 18. Job - PhD vacancy UKDRI

PhD Project: Advanced signal processing and MRI to assess cerebrovascular health in small vessel disease and dementia

Project code: 2018-UKDRI-001
PhD Project: Advanced signal processing and MRI to assess cerebrovascular health in small vessel disease and dementia
Supervisors: Ian Marshall, Michael ThrippletonJoanna Wardlaw, Michael Stringer
Location: Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences (CCBS); Dementia Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh (UK-DRI); and Edinburgh Imaging.


Application deadline: Deadline: 12.00 (midday), 26 Oct 2018. 


Applicants can apply here.



Dementia affects over 45 million people worldwide and costs over £26 billion per year in the UK alone.  There are no effective treatments.  A clearer understanding of the underlying abnormalities is needed to develop effective treatments.

Vascular dysfunction is an early feature in Alzheimer’s disease, small vessel disease, and vascular dementia: cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR), intracranial vessel pulsatility, blood-brain barrier function, and interstitial fluid drainage, are all chronically impaired, and lead to brain damage. However, the contribution of each, and the order in which they occur to cause the pathology, is unknown.


This project will focus on developing advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods to measure CVR, brain pulsatility and other aspects of small vessel function, mapping these onto detailed structural brain images to study how changes in these functions lead to brain damage. Better methods to assess dynamic vascular function are essential to study how brain damage occurs in several common diseases. For example, better methods to time the effect of heart beat and breathing on the pulsation of blood and cerebrospinal fluid through the brain, and to relate blood vessel dilation to blood flow and pulsation, are needed.  

The student will work on advanced and complex MRI and computational image analysis techniques as applied to human brain imaging in a multidisciplinary team including medical physicists, neurologists, neuroscientists, image analysts and statisticians. The student will apply these methods in ongoing studies of volunteers and patients. The student will gain practical experience of research MRI in volunteers and patients.


The PhD is funded by the MRC as part of the UK Dementia Research Institute Centre at the University of Edinburgh, duration 3.5 years, starting by September 2019. The UK Dementia Research Institute is a £250 million Government investment in dementia research across 6 UK centres. Edinburgh has a vibrant brain MRI research community with excellent UK and international collaborations in small vessel disease, stroke and dementia. 

Applicant requirements:

A strong background in a quantitative subject such as physics, engineering, computer science or mathematics is necessary; experience in medical imaging and neuroscience may be advantageous but is not essential.

  • Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, a minimum of a 2:1 Honours degree in a relevant subject (for example physics, engineering, chemistry or computer science).
  • Applications should include a full C.V. with details of relevant qualifications, interests and experience.
  • Applications should include a one-page covering letter explaining why you are applying for this UK Dementia Research Institute MRC PhD Scholarship at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Applications must include full contact details of 2 academic referees.
  • The scholarships cover UK/EU tuition fees only.


Application details

Interested students should in the first instance contact the supervisor(s) to discuss the project:

Joanna.Wardlaw@ed.ac.uk, Ian.Marshall@ed.ac.uk, m.j.thrippleton@ed.ac.uk, m.stringer@ed.ac.uk 

Shortlisted candidates will be called for interview around late November 2018.

Applications should be emailed to Nicole Porter, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, University of Edinburgh. Email: nicole.porter@ed.ac.uk


Application deadline

Deadline: 12.00 (midday), 26 Oct 2018

We expect to hold interviews in November 2018, and the PhD can start anytime up to September 2019.

Applicants can apply here.