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Methods for ultrasensitive and quantitative multimodal molecular imaging of vascular inflammation

   Nuclear medicine and radiobiology

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  Prof Martin Lepage, Mr Réjean Lebel  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

About the project

Imaging agents enable researchers to explore animal models and investigate human pathologies non-invasively and secure crucial data to understand the onset and progression of diseases and conditions at the molecular level. 

Our team has been working with micron-sized particles or iron oxide (MPIOs) as imaging agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Specifically, we use these MPIOs to investigate pre-clinical models of cerebrovascular inflammation, including after irradiation (i.e., radiation treatment of brain metastasis) or in Alzheimer’s Disease by targeting an important biomarker: the vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1).

However, while very useful in pre-clinical research, the translation of MPIOs to the clinic remains impossible due to the nature of these agents. Our project aims at developing VCAM-1 targeted liposomes containing iron oxide particles or radiotracers to enable VCAM-1 detection by MRI or PET.

 Tasks of the candidate

The exact tasks given to each student will depend on their background – tasks outside the student’s expertise can be either trained for or performed by staff from the laboratory, but we expect students to become familiar with most aspects of their project. These include:

-      Experimental design

-      Preparation and characterization of liposomes (dynamic light scattering, , microscopy)

-      Validation of liposomes in cells models (cell culture, flow cytometry)

-      Animal care and model preparation.

  • Handling, weighing, and monitoring animals
  • Performing injections (tail vein mostly)

-      Preclinical imaging and data acquisition (MRI and/or PET pre-clinical imaging). This includes

  • Contrast agent dose preparation
  • Radiotracer dose preparation and radioactive substance handling

-      Data analysis (Matlab/python)

  • Recovering the data from the servers and reconstructing them
  • Performing quality control on imaging data
  • Process the images using the analysis pipelines that are already in place (potentially adapting these pipelines if needed)

-      Data compilation and interpretation

-      Manuscript redaction

Students in our lab are enrolled in the Radiation Sciences and Biomedical Imaging graduate program. PhD students have one mandatory two- credits course. We encourage our students to select courses that will provide them with training in topics linked with their project with which they are less familiar.


These projects will fit any enthusiastic student with one of the following backgrounds:

-      Biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, neurology, or similar with an interest in biophysics and imaging.

-      Biophysics, chemistry, or similar with interest in imaging, neurobiology, and health-related research.

Any prior experience in medical imaging, imaging agent synthesis, or liposome formulation will be considered an asset but is not mandatory.


Students in the laboratory are co-supervised by Prof. Martin Lepage (MRI physicist) and his research associates (Dina Sikpa, Biologist, Réjean Lebel, Biochemist, Luc Tremblay, magnetic resonance specialist). Other researchers and collaborators are part of our research team and can act as additional co-supervisors depending on the project and the support needed by each student.


Student stipend is 23,000 CAD/year (PhD level).

A realistic budget for living in Sherbrooke is available here: https://www.usherbrooke.ca/admission/couts-et-aide-financiere/frais-subsistance/international. International students at the Ph.D. level are exempted from international student fees.


The official language at Université de Sherbrooke is French, and much of the faculty activities are in French. Candidates must be either willing to learn French or accept that this language barrier could be a challenge in their implication with the larger community. However, activities in the lab are conducted in English when English students are present and academic activities can be performed in English (seminars, thesis defense, memoir/thesis redaction). Research staff speaks both English and French, and many international students successfully graduate each year without mastering French.

Inclusion, diversity, and equity

Our team is strongly committed to upholding equity, diversity, and inclusion. We expect candidates to uphold these same values and contribute to a positive, safe and inclusive environment. We invite candidates to address EDI in their cover letter.


Candidates must provide a cover letter for their CV in which they discuss their background and career track, specific motivations for joining our team, and overall career goals.

About the Université de Sherbrooke

Located in Canada, in the Province of Quebec, the Université de Sherbrooke is a French-speaking institution that offers you the opportunity to benefit from an academic education that is recognized and valued around the world. The Université de Sherbrooke is host to more than 31,000 students and another 10,000 who registered at the University of the Third Age. Currently, more than 1,600 foreign students from 88 countries worldwide attend the Université de Sherbrooke. More than 82 % of the students enrolled at the Université are from outside Sherbrooke. Université de Sherbrooke ranked first in Canada as the most appreciated university amongst the 15th largest Canadian universities (https://www.macleans.ca/education/canadas-best-universities-by-student-satisfaction-rankings-2022/).  

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Student stipend: 23,000 CAD at the PhD level
Tuition and other fees: 5325 CAD per year for the first two years, then 1575 CAD per year
International students at the PhD level are exempted from international students fees at UdeS
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