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PhD Studentship Opportunity: Photoacoustic imaging for the optimisation of CAR-T cell cancer therapy of soft-tissue tumours – metrology and system development

Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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Dr L.M Florescu No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
Guildford United Kingdom Acoustics Applied Mathematics Biomedical Engineering Biophysics Cancer Biology Medical Physics Optical Physics

About the Project

This multidisciplinary project aims to develop photoacoustic imaging techniques for the optimisation of CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell cancer therapy. This is an emerging treatment technique, approved for cancer patients in 2018 and expected to enable major advancements in personalised medicine. It involves removal of the patient’s T cells from the blood, their genetic modification, and re-infusion of the cells back into the patient. More than 800 CAR-T cell therapies are being investigated in clinical trials. Preclinical assessment of the efficacy, pharmacokinetic profile and toxicity profile of CAR-T cells is of critical importance in the development of such therapies, prior to clinical trials.

This project aims to develop and evaluate the use of photoacoustic imaging for determining the biodistribution of the CAR-T cells in vivo. Photoacoustic imaging is an exciting biomedical imaging method which employs an ultrasound scanner in combination with a pulsed laser to create high-resolution 3D images of the optical properties of tissues and cells. The project objectives include: development of methodologies for photoacoustic quantification of tumour and/or CAR-T cell numbers and assessment of their performance in tissue-mimicking phantoms; validating the methods for cell number quantification in vivo; exploring the application to the dynamic quantification of CAR-T cell numbers as they penetrate tumours; evaluating alternative ultrasound array configurations and noise- reduction methods to improve performance for CAR-T cell tracking in vivo.

The student will be registered at the University of Surrey with the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP). The experimental work will be carried out at the Institute of Cancer Research, and at least three months will be spent at the National Physical Laboratory. Further technical advice will come from iThera Medical. Training on imaging techniques and cell-culture preparation will be provided.

The project supervisors will be: Dr Lucia Florescu, Professor Jeff Bamber, Dr Astero Klampatsa and Dr. Anant Shah (NPL).

For further information about our research portfolio and how to apply visit

Entry requirements

All applicants should have (or expect to obtain) a first-class degree in a numerate discipline (mathematics, science or engineering) or MSc with Distinction (or 70% average) and a strong interest in pursuing research in this field. Additional experience which is relevant to the area of research is also advantageous, especially a demonstrated capability or interest in convergence research that spans the physical, engineering and biological sciences.

English language requirements: IELTS Academic 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category.

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Vision, Speech and Signal Processing PhD programme page on the "Apply" tab. Please state clearly the studentship project at you would like to apply for.

Shortlisted applicants will be contacted directly to arrange a suitable time for an interview.

Funding Notes

Stipend of £19,000 p.a. This opportunity is funded by EPSRC iCASE.
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