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

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Jim Wild
    Dr P Ford
    Dr S Bianchi
  • 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

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.


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.


The group of the primary supervisor ( ) 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.


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.


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.

Source of match funding:

This PhD stipend will be enhanced with industrial funding from Galapagos.

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:

Further information on the programme can be found on our website:

Funding Notes

iCASE Award: Industrial partnership project:

Fully funded by the MRC for 3.5yrs, including a minimum of 3 months working within the industry partner. Enhanced stipend, tuition fees and budget for consumables, travel and subsistence.

Studentships commence: 1st October 2020.

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!


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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