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Development of Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI) Tracers for image guided cancer diagnostics and therapy

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr Marco Giardiello, Prof H Poptani  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

This PhD studentship aims to develop Magnetic Nanoparticle Imaging (MPI) tracers for image guided cancer diagnostics and therapy. MPI is a new imaging modality which uses magnetic field gradients to detect nanomolar concentrations of Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticle (SPION) tracers in vivo. The University of Liverpool is home to the MOMENTUM MPI scanner from Magnetic Insight Inc., which integrates the HYPER Magnetic Fluid Hyperthermia (MFH) theranostic platform, as well as software packages for both advanced magnetic material optimisation (RELAX) and advanced image reconstruction and signal enhancement studies (MOMENTUM SDK); this package of equipment capability is unique to UoL.

MPI directly detects SPION bulk magnetisation, thus there is no background signal from tissue leading to excellent contrast and high signal-to-noise ratio; a major advantage over MRI. MPI employs static magnetic fields in which a field free point (FFP) is generated. Across the FFP, oscillating magnetic fields are applied to measure the quantity of SPIONs present. As SPIONs enter the FFP the oscillating fields cause fluctuation in their magnetic moment (Néel) and full particle (Brownian) rotation, causing magnetisation to rapidly saturate and unsaturate giving rise to harmonics which can be imaged both quantitatively and in real time. MPI is the first imaging modality to be driven by tracer technology, thus represents enormous and unique potential for novelty and innovation through Advanced Materials Research.

MPI is still in its infancy, with synthetic inorganic chemistry research into MPI tracer optimisation critical to progress the technology toward clinical use. Thus, this PhD studentship will allow a highly motivated individual to develop a unique research profile in the synthesis and characterisation of novel magnetic nanomaterials for use in this emerging and exciting new technology. The broad studentship aims are: (a) MPI tracer synthetic development utilising the system’s software modules to investigate inorganic nanoparticle optimisation and MPI physics; (b) bio-material investigation for sensitivity and efficacy of magnetic nanoparticles in various cancer cell lines; (c) advanced magnetic nanoparticle synthetic optimisation for (i) preferential localisation in tumours; (ii) particle drug carriers and hyperthermia agents for image guided treatment.

This studentship is truly multidisciplinary, providing a broad range of training in inorganic nanoparticle technology, synthesis and characterisation. The project will be based within the Department of Chemistry (Dr Marco Giardiello) at the University of Liverpool and will interact with multidisciplinary scientists across the wider Nanomedicine Partnership and the Functional Materials Team. In addition, the studentship will provide biological investigation through direct training at the UoL Centre for Preclinical Imaging (Prof Harish Poptani). Such a multidisciplinary project will enhance student scientific skillsets and strengthen future employability, which is extremely important in the modern research landscape.

The successful candidate should have, or expect to have, at least a 2:1 Masters degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry, Materials Science, or a closely related subject. The candidate should be highly motivated and have the ability and willingness to embrace a wide range of multidisciplinary research areas.

For any enquiries please contact Dr Marco Giardiello on: [Email Address Removed]

To apply for this opportunity, please visit: and click on the 'Ready to apply? Apply online' button, to start your application. Please ensure you include the project title Development of Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI) Tracers for image guided cancer diagnostics and therapy, and reference number: PPPR022.

Funding Notes

The funding for this position is from an EPSRC DTP studentship. The eligibility details of both are below.
EPSRC eligibility: Applications from candidates meeting the eligibility requirements of the EPSRC are welcome – please refer to the EPSRC website:
The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant is £15,609 pa for 2022/23, with the possibility of an increase for 2023/24


Stable, polymer-directed and SPION-nucleated magnetic amphiphilic block copolymer nanoprecipitates with readily reversible assembly in magnetic fields. Giardiello et al, Nanoscale, 8, 7224-7231 (2016) DOI: 10.1039/C6NR00788K
Tomographic imaging using the nonlinear response of magnetic particles. Gleich et al, Nature, 435, 1214 (2005) DOI:10.1038/nature03808
Magnetic Particle Imaging Tracers: State-of-the-Art and Future Directions. Bauer et al, Phys. Chem. Lett., 6, 2509 (2015) DOI:
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