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MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership: Magnetic resonance imaging of lung fibrosis in interstial lung disease – physics or engineering PhD project


MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership

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Prof Jim Wild , Dr P Ford , Dr S Bianchi No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Sheffield United Kingdom Biomedical Engineering Medical Physics Medicine Physics Radiology Software Engineering Theoretical Physics

About the Project

In this project the student will work with the primary supervisor (Jim Wild, Professor of MRI physics [Email Address Removed]), clinical collaborators in Sheffield (Dr Steve Bianchi) and an industrial partner (Dr Paul Ford, Galapagos Pharmaceuticals) to develop quantitative magnetic resonance imaging methods for the assessment of lung fibrosis.


Objectives:
Develop and assessment of multi-nuclear MRI techniques to assess: (i) lung elasticity - MR elastography, (ii) tissue compliance - lung dynamics, and (iii) tissue gas exchange – with dissolved 129Xe hyperpolarised MRI. The aim is to develop new quantitative and non-invasive techniques and image based computational physiological models for the identification of early fibrotic lung disease and disease progression in interstitial lung disease.

Novelty:
The group of the primary supervisor ( https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/polaris ) have a track record in developing multi-nuclear imaging methods for functional and structural assessment of the lungs and applying them to clinical questions in respiratory medicine. In this project, novel techniques for assessing lung collagen and fibrosis will be developed using MRI elastography, xenon MRI and dynamic proton lung MRI. We will evaluate these methods in phantoms, ex-vivo samples and pilot clinical studies and assess their relative sensitivity alongside existing clinical lung function tests and CT.


Timeliness:
Interstitial lung diseases have a very poor prognosis and anti-fibrotic drug development research is in desperate need of new and more sensitive noin-invasive regionally specific biomarkers of disease progression. This project therefore has methodological novelty and scope for major clinical impact.

Environment:
The PhD student will complement a multidisciplinary world-leading team of physicists, engineers, clinicians and physiologist interested in functional and structural assesment of the lungs with advanced imaging techniques. The industrial CASE collaboration with Galapagos has advantages in exposing the student to industrial collaboration at the interface of imaging technology and drug development.

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 benefited from this funding here: http://www.dimen.org.uk/overview/student-profiles/flexible-supplement-awards

Further information on the programme and how to apply can be found on our website:
https://bit.ly/3lQXR8A

Funding Notes

iCASE Award: Industrial partnership project

Funded by the MRC for 3.5yrs, including a minimum of 3 months working within the industry partner.

Funding will cover UK tuition fees and an enhanced stipend (around £17,785) only. We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK. We are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme. Please read additional guidance here: https://bit.ly/3kPNjoJ

Studentships commence: 1st October 2021.
Good luck!

References

Hyperpolarised xenon magnetic resonance spectroscopy for the longitudinal assessment of changes in gas diffusion in IPF.
Weatherley ND, Stewart NJ, Chan HF, Austin M, Smith LJ, Collier G, Rao M, Marshall H, Norquay G, Renshaw SA, Bianchi SM, Wild JM.
Thorax. 2018 Nov 2. pii: thoraxjnl-2018-211851.

^{129}Xe-Rb Spin-Exchange Optical Pumping with High Photon Efficiency.
Norquay G, Collier GJ, Rao M, Stewart NJ, Wild JM.
Phys Rev Lett. 2018 Oct 12;121(15):153201. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.153201.

Experimental validation of the hyperpolarized 129 Xe chemical shift saturation recovery technique in healthy volunteers and subjects with interstitial lung disease.
Stewart NJ, Leung G, Norquay G, Marshall H, Parra-Robles J, Murphy PS, Schulte RF, Elliot C, Condliffe R, Griffiths PD, Kiely DG, Whyte MK, Wolber J, Wild JM.
Magn Reson Med. 2015 Jul;74(1):196-207.


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