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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): Optical spectroscopy to enable screening in the liver transplant theatre (Edinburgh Transplant Centre and University of Edinburgh)

School of Engineering & Physical Sciences

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Prof D Reid , Dr CJ Campbell No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Edinburgh United Kingdom Medical Physics

About the Project

This project is based around the concept of using Raman Spectroscopy as a method to assess the quality of organs prior to transplantation. The sensing is the measurement of metabolic profiles in an effort to determine signatures of organ health. The analysis is in the local, automated processing of spectra in order to reduce their complexity and communicate their contents in a way that quickly informs clinical decision making.

The project aims to answer the following questions:

·      What are the spectroscopic signatures of liver health that improve decision making around diagnosis and transplantation?

·      What are the key elements of signal processing that allow a complex Raman spectrum to be used as a tool in clinical decision making?

·      How can a spectroscopic device be safely integrated into a clinical workflow?

In particular, this project will use Raman spectroscopy to assess liver quality in a transplant setting. Measuring Raman spectra in the liver is complicated by the high background fluorescence of liver tissue and a novel element of this project is using advanced device designs and advanced signal processing algorithms to allow Raman spectra to be collected with a high enough signal to noise ratio. The project will integrate sensing and analysis technology with normothermic perfusion (a technology used to provide better clinical outcomes for transplantation).

The successful candidate will:

·      Work with clinical samples from the transplant surgery measuring metabolic profiles using Raman spectroscopy and NMR spectroscopy.

·      Compare spectroscopic profiles with well-established markers of liver health e.g., immunohistopahology and blood gas analysis.

·      Analyse the data using multivariate techniques in order to find signatures of health that improve the efficiency of donor liver use.

·      Work out a pathway to clinical translation which includes integration of devices into clinical work flows and automated analysis of data.

The successful candidate will benefit from training in a range of areas spanning physical chemistry, signal processing and clinical practice – this is not a skill-set that can be obtained without a significant investment of time. In such a challenging, multidisciplinary project a high level of problem solving and critical thought are required in order to advance the field to a point where the research has clinical utility. The challenge of taking a sensing technology to the point at which clinical utility can be demonstrated requires a great deal of careful experimental design, statistical analysis and problem solving and will require excellence in teamworking and communication in order to pull all strands of the project together.

CDT Essential Criteria

A Masters level degree (MChem, MEng, MPhys, MSc) at 2.1 or equivalent.

Desire to work collegiately, be involved in outreach, undertake taught and professional skills study.

An interest in healthcare technologies.

Desirable Criteria

A first degree in a physical science with an aptitude for experimental work.

A willingness to work with clinical samples.

A willingness to work in diverse teams.


The CDT in Applied Photonics provides a supportive, collaborative environment which values inclusivity and is committed to creating and sustaining a positive and supportive environment for all our applicants, students, and staff. For further information, please see our ED&I statement Forming a supportive cohort is an important part of the programme and our students take part in various professional skills workshops, including Responsible Research and Innovation workshops and attend Outreach Training.

Funding Notes

Funding for this position may vary depending on the nationality/status of the applicant.

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