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Functional optical coherence tomography for characterisation and diagnosis of skin cancer

School of Science and Engineering

Dundee United Kingdom Biomedical Engineering Cancer Biology Radiology

About the Project

Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) the commonest cancer in humans. Although the majority of NMSCs are of low-grade malignancy, misdiagnosis, suboptimal therapy, or under-estimation of the biological potential of the primary tumour can cause serious morbidity. Clinical diagnosis of NMSC is confirmed by skin biopsy of the suspected lesion for histopathologic interpretation, which is invasive and leaves scarring. Non-invasively dermoscopy improves accuracy in diagnosing pigmented skin lesions, but provides limited depth information. There is a need for a non-invasive and clinically reliable modality that can provide accurate diagnosis of suspected lesion of NMSCs for screening and monitoring purposes and delineation of tumour margins.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive, label-free, real time, in vivo assessment tool. It is a tomographic technique using low-intensity infrared light focused within the tissue, providing depth-resolved 2-D or 3-D tissue morphology images up to 3mm deep with resolution of a few micrometres. This project will bring together technologies in high-resolution, sensitive OCT configurations by integrating micro-vascular and stiffness mapping functions with traditional OCT. Successful outcomes would be a novel functional OCT system that capable of non-invasive measurement of lesion dimensions, peri-vascular involvement and stiffness distribution to demonstrate diagnostic signatures of suspected NMSCs and a scheme for its incorporation into dermatology clinics whereby in-situ monitoring of process integrity is enabled. Data sets from healthy volunteers and patients will be collected and analysed to evaluate and demonstrate the applicability of this emergingtechnology to current NMSC diagnosis and screening protocols.

For informal enquiries about the project, contact Dr Chunhui Li ()
For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact

Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK in a relevant discipline.

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 5.5 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s English language requirements are available online:


Step 1: Email Dr Chunhui Li () to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After discussion with Dr Li, formal applications can be made via UCAS Postgraduate. When applying, please follow the instructions below:

Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Biomedical Engineering: Select the start date and study mode (full-time/part-time) agreed with the lead supervisor.

In the ‘provider questions’ section of the application form:
- Write the project title and ‘’ in the ‘if your application is in response to an advertisement’ box;
- Write the lead supervisor’s name and give brief details of your previous contact with them in the ‘previous contact with the University of Dundee’ box.

In the ‘personal statement’ section of the application form, outline your suitability for the project selected.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees, project specific bench fees and living expenses via external sponsorship or self-funding.

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