The Oxford Centre for Clinical Magnetic Resonance Research (OCMR) develop new methods for cardiac magnetic resonance. This project will be in the ultrahigh field (7T) cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) team which has a focus on cardio-respiratory motion detection and correction. Ultrahigh field has the potential to provide new levels of detail and sensitivity in images and metabolic profiling (spectroscopy) of the heart. A limiting factor for advancing cardiac MRI to 7T is cardiac and respiratory motion which limits scan duration and induces artefacts. This project will be a collaboration with Siemens Healthineers and funded by an EPSRC industrial CASE studentship (see https://epsrc.ukri.org/skills/students/industrial-case/intro/
). For more details on the research see Dr Hess’ profile https://www.rdm.ox.ac.uk/people/aaron-hess
The focus of this project is the development of methodologies to characterise motion induced changes in transmit (B1+), receive (B1-), and main frequency (B0) fields and to prospectively adapt acquisitions and retrospectively inform image reconstruction. These methods will utilise motion tracking methods developed in Oxford, these methods use the RF properties of array coils (coil-to-coil coupling) to track tissue. Our work has shown that respiratory motion can be tracked (reference 1 below) and cardiac motion detected (reference 2 below).
Knowing motion has occurred is not enough to produce high quality images, what that motion is, how the MRI fields of B0 and B1 have changed, and using this information to reconstruct high quality images is needed. This project will develop methods to tracking changes in B1 and B0 fields, the motion, and integrate this information into image reconstruction algorithms.
The focus of this work will be free-breathing pulse sequences such as 3D cine, 4D flow, late enhancement and T1 mapping. The industrial partnership aspects of this project will involve working with multiple UK 7T sites in order to test the methods developed on two generations of 7T scanners, this offers the potential for quick dissemination of the methodologies as well as working with Siemens to disseminate the work. Good software design skills, including C++ and matlab are essential, and an understanding of RF electronics is preferable.
The student will be trained in MRI pulse sequence programming and image reconstruction methods, they will be supported by Siemens to access the tools required for both existing 7T platforms and be mentored and guided in MRI physics and image reconstruction.
Students are encouraged to attend the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine DPhil Course, which takes place in the autumn of their first year. Running over several days, this course helps students to develop basic research and presentation skills, as well as introducing them to a wide-range of scientific techniques and principles, ensuring that students have the opportunity to build a broad-based understanding of differing research methodologies.
Generic skills training is offered through the Medical Sciences Division’s Skills Training Programme. This programme offers a comprehensive range of courses covering many important areas of researcher development: knowledge and intellectual abilities, personal effectiveness, research governance and organisation, and engagement, influence and impact. Students are actively encouraged to take advantage of the training opportunities available to them.
As well as the specific training detailed above, students will have access to a wide-range of seminars and training opportunities through the many research institutes and centres based in Oxford.
The Department has a successful mentoring scheme, open to graduate students, which provides an additional possible channel for personal and professional development outside the regular supervisory framework. We hold an Athena SWAN Silver Award in recognition of our efforts to build a happy and rewarding environment where all staff and students are supported to achieve their full potential.