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A multi-scale computational model of brain blood flow: enhancing MRI for assessing brain health

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  • Full or part time
    Prof K Murphy
    Prof RG Wise
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This PhD project is well suited to students who would like to combine their knowledge of computational modelling, physics and mathematics to better understand human brain blood flow and how it can go wrong with brain disease.

Abnormal blood flow is an important factor in many brain diseases including stroke and dementia. Changes in blood pressure, disease of major large blood vessels and alterations in the smaller vessels that penetrate brain tissue can all interfere with the constant supply of nutrients to the brain. We, at Cardiff University Brain Research Imaging Centre (CUBRIC), are developing MRI tools, using state-of-the-art 3T and 7T systems, to assess the health of the brain’s blood vessels. To support this, we would like to develop computational models that describe brain blood flow, linking it to MRI signals. Such models will enable us to extract more detailed information about changes to the brain’s blood vessels with disease.

In this PhD project, you will develop computational models of blood flow in different compartments of the brain’s vascular tree, from major arteries to the smallest capillaries. The 1st year will focus on understanding current computational models of brain blood flow at different scales. Training in MRI simulations will be provided (if required). In the 2nd year, you would combine these models and the Bloch equations that determine MRI signals into a software simulation package of realistic vascular trees. In the 3rd year, we will use these simulations to inform the development/optimisation of new MRI sequences and test if they can better extract health signals from the brain. Thesis write up will be completed in 3.5 years.

The project would suit a physics, maths or computer science graduate with an interest in neuroscience and brain physiology. Equally it would suit a neuroscientist with a strong mathematical and computational interest.

Funding Notes

Full UK/EU tuition fees plus stipend matching UKRI Minimum.

Full awards are open to UK Nationals and EU students who meet UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least three years prior to the start of the course including for full-time education.

A small number of awards may also be made available to EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement, provided they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least three years before the start of their proposed programme of study


Whittaker, J.R., Bright, M.G., Driver, I.D.. Babic, A., Khot, S., Murphy, K. (2017). Changes in arterial cerebral blood volume during lower body negative pressure measured with MRI. NeuroImage (In Press)

Whittaker, J.R., Driver, I.D., Bright, M.G., Murphy, K. (2016). The absolute CBF response to activation is preserved during elevated perfusion: implications for neurovascular coupling measures. NeuroImage 125:198-207

Warnert EA, Hart EC, Hall JE, Murphy K, Wise RG (2015). The major cerebral arteries proximal to the Circle of Willis contribute to cerebrovascular resistance in humans. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 36:1384-95.

Related Subjects

How good is research at Cardiff University in Physics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 19.50

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