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MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership: Development of advanced MRI methods for measurement of pulmonary structural and functional change associated with lung disease

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  • Full or part time
    Dr P Thelwall
    Prof A Blamire
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

We are developing MRI-based methods to image lung ventilation and perfusion properties. These new methods provide quantitative measures of lung function in a non-invasive and radiation-free scan, and the overall goal of our research is to develop these technologies for use in clinical practice. In our current lung MRI research we have used an inhaled MR-visible tracer gas (perfluoropropane) and intravenously injected MRI contrast agents to visualise and quantify lung ventilation and perfusion properties. This PhD project will focus on developing imaging methods that are entirely non-invasive and tracer free (ie. no inhaled or injected tracers). New lung imaging methods are significant for patients because current methods to assess lung function either lack spatial information (eg. spirometry) or incur an ionising radiation dose (eg. gamma camera ventilation/perfusion scans, CT scanning). Development of new lung imaging methods aims to bring quantitative radiation-free assessments of lung function to the clinic to improve assessment of disease progression or response to therapy.

The project will test the hypothesis that MRI can provide non-invasive measures of lung ventilation and perfusion that are comparable to tracer-based measures. This will involve hands-on development of new MRI scan protocols and data analysis methods, and application of the resultant lung imaging methods to studies of healthy volunteers and to studies of patients with lung disease. The project is based at the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre ( and will be performed in collaboration with our local NHS Trust (providing access to hospital MRI scanners and patients with lung disease). This interdisciplinary project is best suited to applicants with a physics or engineering and an interest in biomedical sciences, or to applicants with a background in biomedical sciences and an interest in physics or engineering. Our Centre houses two research-dedicated MRI scanners and a team of MR physicists and clinician researchers, where our remit is to develop new MRI methods and apply them to clinical research.

Project supervisors are Dr Pete Thelwall ( and Prof Andy Blamire ( If you are interested in this PhD then you are encouraged to contact Dr Thelwall ([Email Address Removed]) to learn more about the project and the research and training environment.

Benefits of being in the DiMeN DTP:
This project is part of the Discovery Medicine North Doctoral Training Partnership (DiMeN DTP), a diverse community of PhD students across the North of England researching the major health problems facing the world today. Our partner institutions (Universities of Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield) are internationally recognised as centres of research excellence and can offer you access to state-of the-art facilities to deliver high impact research.
We are very proud of our student-centred ethos and committed to supporting you throughout your PhD. As part of the DTP, we offer bespoke training in key skills sought after in early career researchers, as well as opportunities to broaden your career horizons in a range of non-academic sectors.
Being funded by the MRC means you can access additional funding for research placements, international training opportunities or internships in science policy, science communication and beyond.
See how our current DiMeN students have benefitted from this funding here:
Further information on the programme can be found on our website:

Funding Notes

Studentships are fully funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) for 3.5yrs
Stipend at national UKRI standard rate
Tuition fees
Research training and support grant (RTSG)
Travel allowance
Studentships commence: 1st October 2019.

To qualify, you must be a UK or EU citizen who has been resident in the UK/EU for 3 years prior to commencement. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. All applications are scored blindly based on merit. Please read additional guidance here:
Good luck.

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