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Hyperpolarised 129Xe Functional Lung Imaging

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  • Full or part time
    Prof I Hall
    Dr Michael Barlow
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Applications are invited from graduates in physical sciences or medical physics for a PhD Studentship in the Sir Peter Mansfield Magnetic Resonance Centre within Nottingham University’s School of Physics and Astronomy and School of Clinical Sciences at the Queens Medical Centre. The projects are linked to the hyperpolarised xenon research group within these two centres.

The high nuclear spin polarisation of hyperpolarised 129Xe can be used to increase the detection sensitivity for a variety of NMR/MRI applications, including preliminary studies of lung morphology and function by MRI. Hyperpolarised xenon is produced via spin-exchange optical pumping (SEOP) resulting in a 104-105 increase in MR detection sensitivity. This process is still relatively poorly understood, especially since the introduction of high power, frequency narrowed lasers to pump the alkali metal spins. A primary goal of this project is to characterize the SEOP process using optically-detected electron spin resonance spectroscopy, ultralow-frequency Raman spectroscopy and low-field MRI of the hyperpolarised xenon that will show how operating under these conditions affects the levels of xenon nuclear spin polarisation. The hyperpolarised 129Xe is being used in a dedicated 1.5T MRI system at the QMC with a 8 channel parallel receive coil to allow accelated imaging with patients with compromised breathing. This project in collaboration with teams at Vanderbilt-Nashville, Duke and Brigham & Womens Hospital – Harvard will explore the use of hyperpolarised 129Xe in patients with COPD, Interstitial lung disease and Asthma. There is scope for the student to be involved with the clinical studies and MRI sequence development.

Funding Notes

Application are welcome from highly motivated UK or European Economic Region Students (due to funding restrictions) with a higher undergraduate degree in physics, medical physics or related subjects. Previous experience with NMR/MRI and laser optics is an advantage but not a prerequisite. The studentship is fully funded and linked to a ongoing research programme between the School of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Clinical Sciences.

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