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Optimization and Validation of Portable Device to Detect Traumatic Brain Injury in a Pre-clinical Animal Model

   School of Chemical Engineering

About the Project

A PhD Studentship is available for a suitably qualified candidate to conduct research leading to the award of a PhD degree in the field of Chemical Engineering. The successful candidate will join the world-leading Advanced Nano-Materials, Structures and Applications (www.ANMSA.com) Group, one of the leading academic groups in the field of development of novel miniaturised diagnostic technologies.

We are looking for a highly motivated, bright and enthusiastic candidate ideally with a background in or understanding of laboratory animal neuroscience and ophthalmology or fabrication, characterisation and development of miniaturized device.

This project is of a highly interdisciplinary nature, at the interface of microengineering, biophysics and medicine, will focus on developing new methods for improved and accurate detection and assessment of traumatic brain injury (TBI) as well as understanding, monitoring and controlling the cellular and tissue responses to therapeutic treatments.

TBI is a leading cause of death worldwide. TBI is caused by sudden shock or impact to the head. This can cause mild to severe injury to the brain and needs diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible to prevent further irreversible damage. However, TBI is hard to diagnose at the point-of-injury.

We are developing a portable device that can be used to assess patients allowing rapid diagnosis and assessment of severity. We have previously shown that the device can detect TBI in animal brain tissues after the animal died. We have also developed decision support tools for the device, using artificial intelligence, to rapidly classify TBI. Whilst post-mortem assessments demonstrate feasibility, acute changes in living tissues may differ and display a much richer and more complex pattern of molecular responses.

This PhD project will focus on optimizing a prototype of spectroscopic-fundus imaging in a rat model of optic nerve crush injury and demonstrate a usable device that rapidly classifies injury-related spectral data, capable of detecting changes in TBI. Demonstration of the retinal Raman spectroscopic signature in the rat eyes after optic nerve crush and in control eyes will be established. This will test the device in-vivo for the first time to show that we can detect the same biochemical changes after injury in post-mortem tissues and examine the time course of molecular changes after injury. The animals will be imaged over time after injury to determine if the imaging system will effectively differentiate between injured and control animals during the acute, subacute, and chronic stages of neurotrauma. Endpoint histology will complement the imaging study.

The multidisciplinary nature of this project will enable developing strong collaborations and integrating scientific findings with related projects as well as building broad skills-set that will maximize the knowledge and chances in making an impact on the world’s academic and industrial stages.

The candidate should be qualified to at least first-degree level with an upper second- or first-class honours degree in an appropriate branch of Engineering or Biomedical Sciences or related fields. The studentship is fully funded covering the maintenance, College and University fees and continuation of funding is subject to annual performance review.

Applications comprising a detailed CV, Cover letter, the names and addresses of two referees should be sent by email to Professor P. G. Oppenheimer: and Dr R. Blanch: . The successful applicant will be required subsequently to submit a standard application to the University.

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