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In vivo quantification of oxygen utilization in pathological tissue using advanced MRI techniques

   Cardiff School of Psychology

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  Prof Mara Cercignani, Prof Geoff Parker, Dr Mike Germuska  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Changes in oxygen metabolism are broadly implicated in the aging process, neurodegeneration, and mood disorders. More recently, these mechanisms have been implicated in axonal injury occurring in multiple sclerosis (MS). The increased energy demand is postulated to induce chronic state of virtual hypoxia in chronically demyelinated axons. Oxygen-enhanced (OE) MRI is a quantitative MRI technique that has been successfully applied to identify tumour-related hypoxia in several organs (refs). The signal in OE MRI originates from the difference in R1=1/T1 between two breathing conditions: inhalation of pure (100%) oxygen and normal (normoxic) air (~20% O2). Although previous attempts to apply OE MRI to the measurement of oxygen consumption in the healthy brain have led to controversial results (ref), changes in OE MRI have been consistently reported in stroke, most likely due to reduced metabolic oxygen consumption. The aims of these project are: 1) implement a reliable approach to measure OE MRI in the brain; 2) to compare these methods with other oxygenation-related MRI measures, such as oxygen extraction fraction; 3) develop a signal model for quantification; 4) apply the methods to investigate oxygen metabolism disruption inside MS lesions. The research will be carried out at the Cardiff University Brain Imaging Research Centre (CUBRIC), in collaboration with the Centre for Medical Image Computing (CMIC) at UCL. CUBRIC provides a multidisciplinary environment and access to state-of-the-art imaging equipment. Applicants should have, or be predicted, a first-class degree in Physics, Engineering, Computer Science or Mathematics. Applicants with an MSc or MPhil or equivalent are also invited. Relevant project or other experience would be an advantage. 

Funding Notes

Full awards are open to UK Nationals, and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education.


The studentship will commence in October 2022 and will cover your tuition fees (at UK/EU level) as well as a maintenance grant. In 2021-22 the maintenance grant for full-time students was £15,609 per annum. As well as tuition fees and a maintenance grant, all School of Psychology students receive access to courses offered by the University’s Doctoral Academy and become members of the University Doctoral Academy
As only one studentship is available and a very high standard of applications is typically received, the successful applicant is likely to have a very good first degree (a First or Upper Second class BSc Honours or equivalent) and/or be distinguished by having relevant research experience.
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