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MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership: Machine learning analysis of optical coherence tomography images

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  • Full or part time
    Prof J Read
    Dr W Innes
    Prof M Kaiser
  • 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

The retina is the only part of the central nervous system that can be scanned in microscopic detail, quickly and non-invasively, using optical coherence tomography. Ocular imaging therefore has great potential as a biomarker for neurodegenerative diseases. However, the massive data volumes generated by contemporary advanced ophthalmic imaging techniques (large images, complex data cubes) cannot be adequately exploited by conventional means. Newcastle is beginning to apply advanced Machine Learning techniques to detect patterns in this data with the aim of enabling earlier detection, diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases by a swift and non-invasive method. The group of future patients likely to benefit is already large and will grow further as the population ages. In this project, the student will use our existing labelled data-base of retinal images of patients with diagnoses of Parkinson’s Disease, Parkinson’s Dementia and Alzheimer-type Dementia, as well as healthy age-matched controls, and use this to train a convolutional neural network to classify retinal images automatically.

The supervisory team combines clinical, neuroscience and computing expertise:
* Jenny Read (, professor of vision science at Newcastle University Institute of Neuroscience, with expertise in computational neuroscience and vision science;
* Will Innes, consultant medical ophthalmologist at the Newcastle Eye Centre whose special interests include neuro-ophthalmology, retinal disorders and advanced ophthalmic imaging technology. (
* Marcus Kaiser (, professor of neuroinformatics at Newcastle University Interdisciplinary Computing and Complex BioSystems , who ha expertise in network analysis and neuronal networks is the chair of Neuroinformatics UK (

Funding Notes

This studentship is part of the MRC Discovery Medicine North (DiMeN) partnership and is funded for 3.5 years. Including the following financial support:
Tax-free maintenance grant at the national UK Research Council rate
Full payment of tuition fees at the standard UK/EU rate
Research training support grant (RTSG)
Travel allowance for attendance at UK and international meetings
Opportunity to apply for Flexible Funds for further training and development
Please carefully read eligibility requirements and how to apply on our website, then use the link on this page to submit an application:

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