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  Magnetic resonance imaging to Assess Carotid-Brain interactions in people with stroke (MAC-Brain)

   College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences

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  Dr D Dickie, Dr J Dawson  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

We are looking for an enthusiastic researcher to work towards a PhD in the area of brain and carotid MRI analysis in stroke. This is a funded PhD jointly supported by the Neurosciences Foundation and Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and neck (carotid) arteries is commonly used in people with stroke. They help us decide if stroke has occurred and identify causes of stroke such as disease in the very small arteries in the brain or narrowing in the large arteries in the neck. Further, preliminary reports suggest that the shape of blood vessels is related to brain shrinkage and abnormalities in the white matter deep in the brain. We want to explore these areas in the studentship and assess the relationships between neck artery and brain findings on MRI, as well as cognitive function on clinical assessment. This project is motivated by the long lead times currently required for researchers and clinicians to assess carotid scans visually, conflicting reports on whether carotid shape and brain damage are related, and a lack of understanding of the combined effects of carotid and brain damage on cognitive function.
In this PhD studentship we will first manually delineate the carotid arteries in a group of stroke patients and use these data to attempt to develop an automated software tool for reliably identifying blood vessels in the neck. We will then assess whether measures of carotid shape, including subtle features such as minor narrowing, are related to findings on brain scans and cognitive function. Finally, because we will use data from a clinical trial of allopurinol after stroke, we will be able to assess the effect of this drug on the neck vessels. The student will work with real clinical data from the XILO-FIST drug trial in people with recent stroke. XILO-FIST is a joint Stroke Association/ British Heart Association funded trial (£1,065,604 over 79 months); recruitment is on track to end in November 2018.

Learning outcomes for the student include:
1) understanding of head and neck MRI acquisition
2) ability to perform detailed MRI analysis of the brain and blood vessels
3) understanding of the epidemiology and pathophysiology of stroke, dementia, and cognitive impairment
4) ability to systematically search, review, and critically evaluate the literature on MRI in stroke, dementia, and cognitive impairment
5) understanding of good clinical practice and clinical trials research
6) ability to communicate complex ideas to peers, public, and patients.

The student will be supported by the excellent programme of training for PhD students in the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences at the University of Glasgow and will also learn from experts at the University of Dundee. Additionally, the student will have the opportunity to work with data acquired at the state-of-the-art Imaging Centre of Excellence (ICE) in Glasgow which is unique in Scotland and replicated in only a few places worldwide.

When applying, please enter the project title in the programme description box of the online application form

Start date: Autumn 2018

Funding Notes

This studentship would be particularly suited to a student with prior experience of structural brain and/or carotid MRI analysis but this is not essential. In lack of this experience the successful student must have demonstrative experience of neuroanatomy and/or strong computer programming skills. Published or soon-to-be published work in a subject-related academic journal is not essential but is strongly desired.

Stipend of £14,777 per annum, rising yearly in line with funding council guidelines