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Improving sensitivity and specificity to detect epileptogenic foci by coregistered PET and MR

Project Description

Epilepsy is a frequent disorder that can be caused by focal abnormalities in the brain, which may be treatable by surgical resection. Therefore, detecting and localising epileptogenic foci is an important diagnostic task provided by specialised services. Epileptogenic foci can be localised by positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-fluorodeoxglucose (FDG) as areas with reduced metabolism in cerebral cortex. In accordance with international and NICE guidelines, this is regularly provided as a diagnostic service at the MFT nuclear medicine department for adults and for children. Accuracy of clinical readings is improved by 3D co-registration with clinical magnetic resonance images (MRIs) using standard software. However, MR scans suitable for co-registration may not be available in all patients under routine service conditions, and visual scan reads are subjective and depend on the readers experience. We therefore propose a PhD project with the following aims:
1) Evaluate the accuracy of localising epileptic foci dependent on the type and quality of MR scans available for coregistration (to be done on existing data base)
2) Evaluate the accuracy of statistical parametric mapping procedures to objectively localise foci and improve existing algorithms for detection of foci
3) Explore the potential of hybrid PET-MR (one single scan combining PET and MR) to reduce the scanning and radiation burden to patients and to improve diagnostic accuracy

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area / subject. Candidates with experience in medical image analysis and with an interest in clinical neuroscience are encouraged to apply.

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Medical Imaging.

For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website).

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.


Herholz, K., & Heiss, W. D. (2004). Positron emission tomography in clinical neurology. Molecular Imaging & Biology, 6(4), 239-269

Tomás, J., Pittau, F., Hammers, A., Bouvard, S., Picard, F., Vargas, M. I., ... & Garibotto, V. (2019). The predictive value of hypometabolism in focal epilepsy: A prospective study in surgical candidates. European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, 46(9), 1806-1816.

Oldan, J. D., Shin, H. W., Khandani, A. H., Zamora, C., Benefield, T., & Jewells, V. (2018). Subsequent experience in hybrid PET-MRI for evaluation of refractory focal onset epilepsy. Seizure, 61, 128-134.

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