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MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership: Predicting treatment outcome in Parkinson’s disease with neuroimaging


MRC DiMeN Doctoral Training Partnership

, Dr Antonella Macerollo Wednesday, January 27, 2021 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
Liverpool United Kingdom Bioinformatics Biomedical Engineering Biophysics Data Analysis Machine Learning Medical Physics

About the Project

This is an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic student to work towards a programme of research that encompasses imaging and clinical neuroscience in Parkinson’s disease. You will be primarily based at the University of Liverpool and receive extensive MRI analysis training in the lab of the primary supervisor (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/translational-medicine/research/brain-imaging/; @BrainImagingUoL). The Liverpool Brain Research using Advanced Imaging in Neurology (BRAIN) lab specialises in the development and application of state-of-the-art neuroimaging methods to understand neurological disorders and predict treatment outcomes. The lab is a friendly and supportive environment

that helps postgraduate students flourish into independent post-doctoral researchers. 

You will also be working with and supervised by a consultant neurologist in movement disorders who will provide expert clinical perspectives throughout your PhD to understand the neurophysiopathology of different subtypes of Parkinson’s Disease. You will be additionally supervised by a consultant Neurosurgeon, who will provide his experience on functional neurosurgery in movement disorders.

You will be affiliated with the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, which is the only NHS Trust in the UK that is exclusively specialised in neuroscience. You will develop interdisciplinary skills in neuroimaging analysis and advanced data analysis techniques (e.g. machine learning and Artificial Intelligence) and will have the opportunity to network with hospital-based and industrial-based specialists. This PhD is additionally supported by an Industrial Partner, Boston Scientific, who manufacture deep brain stimulation technologies. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to gain industrial experience through a period of placement at Boston Scientific.

Supervisors

Dr Simon Keller: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/translational-medicine/staff/simon-keller/

Dr Antonella Macerollo: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/psychology/staff/antonella-macerollo/

Mr Jibril Farah: https://www.thewaltoncentre.nhs.uk/Consultant/77/mr-j-o-farah.html

Project overview

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder and an increasing national health problem. Parkinson’s disease has heterogenous symptomatic features, rates of degeneration and response to treatments. For example, some patients will have resting tremor as the primary motor impairment, others may have postural instability; some patients symptoms will escalate quickly whereas

others take many years to become debilitating; some patients who undergo deep brain stimulation treatment have excellent symptom control whereas others do not. Having in-vivo neuroimaging biomarkers for these facets of the disease would be directly clinically informative and even have the potential to be incorporated into future clinical evaluation of patients. In large cohorts of patients with Parkinson’s disease you will use advanced quantitative neuroimaging (mainly MRI) methods to identify biomarkers of:

Tremor-dominant and postural instability-dominant symptoms

Fast and slow disease progression

Treatment outcome after deep brain stimulation

This is an opportunity to work towards a unique PhD in an area of neuroscience that has the real potential to translate to clinical benefit in Parkinson’s disease.

Having experience in one or more of the following will be advantageous for this project:

Neuroimaging

MRI analysis

Artificial intelligence

Machine learning

Computer coding

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


Funding Notes

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: View Website
Studentships commence: 1st October 2021.
Good luck!

References

Horn, A., Fox, M. D. 2020/ Opportunities of connectomic neuromodulation. Neuroimage, 221:117180. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117180
Macerollo, A., Zrinzo, L., Akram, H., Foltynie, T., Limousin, P. 2020. Subthalamic nucleus deep brain stimulation for Parkinson's disease: current trends and future directions. Expert Rev Med Devices. 2020 Apr 6:1-12. https://doi.org/10.1080/17434440.2020.1747433
Treu, S., Strange, B., Oxenford, S., Neumann, W. J., Kuhn, A., Li, N., Horn, A. 2020. Deep brain stimulation: imaging on a group level. Neuroimage, 219: 117018. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117018

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