About the Project
As physicists we can build computational models describing how the MRI signal changes as a function of underlying physiological parameters. For example, following the injection of a contrast agent the signal will change over time according to the degree of leakage of that agent through the blood-brain barrier. We fit these models to the MRI data from each pixel in the brain image to produce a quantitative map of the physiological parameter. It is important that we know how accurate and precise the estimate is before it can be used to study brain physiology and how it may be altered in disease.
We can also build biophysical models describing how the chemical composition (e.g. oxygenation or neurotransmitter concentration) of the brain changes as a function of changes in neural activity, which can be detected with functional MRI or MR spectroscopy. For example, following a neural stimulus (e.g. a picture flashing up on a screen), the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain can change which will alter the relative height of the peaks in the MR spectrum. We can use these models to understand how the brain changes in response to stimulation.
In this PhD project you will develop new MRI methods to measure neurophysiological properties of the brain. You will work to ensure the measurements are accurate and precise. You will work with biologists or neurologists in application of these imaging measurements to understand fundamental properties of brain function or how the brain is altered in disease.
The ideal candidate will have a first class degree in a highly numerate subject (physics, maths, engineering) with relevant research experience in MRI and a keen interest in the brain.
For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Biomedical Imaging Sciences.
For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit http://www.internationalphd.manchester.ac.uk
As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit
Ben R Dickie, Geoff JM Parker, Laura M Parkes, ‘Measuring water exchange across the blood-brain barrier using MRI’ Progress in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy 116, 19-39 
Dickie BR, Vandesquille M, Ulloa J, Boutin H, Parkes LM, Parker GJM (joint last author), ‘Non-invasive detection of subtle blood-brain barrier breakdown using water-exchange MRI’ Neuroimage 184 349-358 
Lea-Carnall C, Trujillo-Barreto N, Montemurro MA, El-Deredy W, Parkes LM ‘Frequency-dependent cortical plasticity: evidence from psychophysics, functional imaging and computational modelling’ 114(33)8871-8876 PNAS Aug 
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