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Hyperpolarising nitrogen

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Wednesday, January 08, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Background :
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy are extremely powerful techniques used extensively by clinicians and scientists. However NMR and MRI measurements are limited because of low sensitivity which leads to poor resolution, contrast and long scan times. The Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance (CHyM) is seeking solutions to these limitations by using hyperpolarisation to prepare samples with high signal strengths in NMR and MRI measurements. These compounds can then be studied in biological and chemical applications.

CHYM brings together expertise in inorganic chemistry, catalysis, organic synthesis, physical chemistry, biochemistry and medical imaging to develop hyperpolarisation techniques. These techniques include parahydrogen induced polarisation (PHIP), signal amplification by reversible exchange (SABRE) and dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP). CHyM works closely with the Department of Biology and the Hull York Medical School on the clinical applications of these technologies and also with the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Psychology.

Project :
The team is working on techniques to incorporate hyperpolarised gases such as 15 N 2 and 1 H 2 into reagents so that they can be detected in NMR or MRI experiments. This project will identify and develop techniques to measure the degree of hyperpolarisation
achieved in 15 N 2 and the half-life of it and the resulting hyperpolarised agents and investigate their potential use as MRI contrast agents. It has aspects of chemistry, synthesis and measurement. It may also involve the building of some equipment and will be a great opportunity to learn many new techniques.

Research Group : The student will join the CHYM Group led by Professor Simon Duckett.


Full training will be given on hyperpolarisation techniques and processes. Opportunities exist to attend courses to further develop their
knowledge in imaging techniques. The group works closely with colleagues across the University working on medical imaging and the student will attend regular group meetings with other members of staff and students with interest in this area. Students are expected to
present their research findings at conferences and at collaborative visits to other research groups in the UK and abroad.

All research students follow our innovative Doctoral Training in Chemistry (iDTC): cohort-based training to support the development of scientific, transferable and employability skills. All research students take the core training package which provides both a grounding
in the skills required for their research, and transferable skills to enhance employability opportunities following graduation. Core training is progressive and takes place at appropriate points throughout a student’s higher degree programme, with the majority of
training taking place in Year 1. In conjunction with the Core training, students, in consultation with their supervisor(s), select training related to the area of their research.

Your background:
You should have a strong background in physical chemistry or physics and an interest in spectroscopy, NMR or MRI.

The Department of Chemistry holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award and is committed to supporting equality and diversity for all staff and students. The Department strives to provide a working environment which allows all staff and students to contribute fully, to flourish, and to excel: This PhD project is available to study full-time or part-time (50%).

This PhD will formally start on 1 October 2020. Induction activities will start on 28 September.

Funding Notes

This studentship is fully funded for 3 years by a donor and a Department of Chemistry Teaching Studentship and covers: (i) a tax-free annual stipend at the standard Research Council rate (£15,009 estimated for 2020 entry), (ii) research costs, and (iii) tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Funding is available to any student who is eligible to pay tuition fees at the home rate: View Website

You should submit a separate application for funding: View Website


Candidate selection process:
• Applicants should submit a PhD application to the University of York by 8 January 2020
• Applicants should submit a Teaching Studentship Application by 8 January 2020:
• Supervisors may contact candidates either by email, telephone, web-chat or in person
• Supervisors can nominate up to 2 candidates to be interviewed for the project
• Nominated candidates will be invited to a panel interview at the University of York in the week commencing 10 February 2020
• The awarding committee will award studentships following the panel interviews
• Candidates will be notified of the outcome of the panel’s decision by email

How good is research at University of York in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 47.06

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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