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  Use of imaging techniques to investigate metastatic tumours

   College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

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  Dr S Farrington, Prof C Moran  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A 4 year PhD studentship with Dr Susan Farrington and Dr Carmel Moran at the University of Edinburgh.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the fourth most common cancer in UK. Treatment is dominated by major surgery because current imaging modalities cannot accurately determine lymph node involvement or vascular invasion. Although potentially curative, surgery carries high risk of short- and long-term morbidity including stoma formation. Optimized pre-treatment imaging would decrease the number of patients requiring major surgery. Magnetomotive ultrasound (MMUS) is an emerging technique that combines the advantages of non-invasive, non-ionising, low cost and portable ultrasound, with the advantages of nanoparticles for molecular imaging. In this project super-paramagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) will be injected close to tumours and will accumulate in the lymph. Subsequent displacement of the SPION-loaded lymph by an external magnetic field will be measured using an ultrasound field resulting in high resolution images of displacement and fine delineation of structure. Displacement is influenced by tissue elasticity and SPION density. Since pathology indicative of cancer progression is known to alter tissue elasticity and SPION uptake, the approach holds significant potential to non-invasively image tumour development.

The successful candidate will be joining a multidisciplinary team, comprising engineers and physicists with expertise in ultrasound contrast imaging, microbubble fabrication and MMUS, a CRC geneticist who has recently developed a novel in-vivo model of anorectal adenocarcinoma, and a colorectal surgeon committed to improving patient outcomes and translating our research to clinical practice. The candidate will be involved in the implementation and assessment of the in-vivo tumour model using new techniques developed within the project, including MMUS shear wave estimation (SWE) and MMUS transient elastography (TE). The approach will demonstrate delineation of sentinel draining lymph nodes (SLN) and tumour extent and provide biomechanical information indicative of cancer pathology. Multimodal MMUS will deliver functional advances in CRC treatment and provide significant opportunity to extend the technique towards other forms of cancer and develop combined diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

The team are looking to recruit a dynamic PhD student to help establish the in vivo model within the preclinical imaging facility and assess these new imaging modalities in vivo. Students should have at least or expect to obtain a good upper second or first class degree in a biological based subject. Applicants should send a covering letter, stating why they are interested in the project, along with an up-to-date CV, which includes two academic referees to [Email Address Removed] by 15th Sept 2017.

Funding Notes

The studentship is open to UK/EU students and will provide tuition fees (UK/EU rate) and a maintenance grant (£19000 p/a stipend) for up to 4 years until 30th Sept 2022. Academic and informal enquiries can also be sent to Dr Susan Farrington - [Email Address Removed] and Dr Carmel Moran - [Email Address Removed]


1. M. Evertsson, P. Kjellman, M. Cinthio, S. Fredriksson, R. i. t. Zandt, H. W. Persson, et al., "Multimodal detection of iron oxide nanoparticles in rat lymph nodes using magnetomotive ultrasound imaging and magnetic resonance imaging," IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control, vol. 61, pp. 1276-1283, 2014
2. H. Mulvana, E. Stride, R. J. Browning, T. Barrack, M. Tang, Q. Pankhurst, et al., "Enhanced gene transfection in vivo using magnetic localisation of ultrasound contrast agents: Preliminary results," Ultrasonics Symposium (IUS) Proceedings, IEEE, 2010.
3. M.G. Dunlop, S.E. Dobbins , Farrington S.M. et al., ' Common variation near CDKN1A, POLD3 and SHROOM2 influences colorectal cancer risk' Nature Genetics 2012; 44:770.

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