MRC PhD Studentship

Title: Hyperpolarized molecular MRI to investigate neurodegenerative brain disorders

Applications are invited for an MRC PhD studentship in molecular Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) at the University of Nottingham.

Our Research:

Visualizing brain function with MRI can greatly enhance our ability to understand disease mechanisms and guide drug development, but key molecular targets are beyond the reach of current MRI approaches. We develop molecular MRI techniques to overcome these limitations, with hyperpolarized MRI technology or novel nanosized molecular sensors. With these techniques, we then study pathophysiological processes in the brain. A particular focus is neuroinflammation, a key process common to many brain disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, a major senile dementia for which there is no cure.

The PhD Position:

In this studentship we aim to further develop techniques to study inflammation in vivo and apply them to preclinical disease models. This research is highly interdisciplinary and will give the successful candidate the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills and expertise in biosciences research methods (depending on the background of the candidate, e.g. in MRI physics, new imaging techniques and analysis, in vivo behavioural neuroscience, immunohistology), but also an in-depth understanding of the application to physiology and neurologic disorders. Comprehensive training will provide extensive skills to students embarking on a career in biomedical research or drug discovery. Students are involved in a variety of programmes and seminars within the Schools of Medicine and Life Sciences, and will present their work at international scientific meetings. Current students have also collaborated with and travelled to partner institutions abroad. The project will be jointly supervised by Dr Henryk Faas (School of Medicine), Dr Marie-Christine Pardon (School of life Sciences), and Prof Thomas Meersmann (Sir Peter Mansfield MR Centre, for more details see:

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MRI in Nottingham:

MRI is among the University of Nottingham’s major research priority areas. The Nobel Prize was awarded in 2003 to Sir Peter Mansfield for his role in developing MRI. The University is uniquely equipped, with a wide range of MR imaging capabilities (two preclinical MR imagers, one of only two human 7 Tesla systems nationwide and state of the art clinical 3T research scanners) as well as a new micro-PET imaging platform.

Requirements and how to apply:

This studentship is available for a period of 3 ½ years to UK and EU students only due to funding restrictions. Students must have or expect to obtain, a first class or upper second-class honours degree or equivalent in a subject relevant to the topic (e.g. physics, neuroscience, biomedical sciences, neuroimaging). Specialised prior experience in the specific field is however not required. For UK students, the award will include payment of tuition fees and a maintenance stipend of approximately £13,726 per annum (2014/15), which will increase in line with minimum research council rates.  For EU students, only fees, no stipend, can be paid unless they have been ordinarily resident in the UK for more than three years prior to the award starting.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Dr H. Faas, email:

Applications with a detailed CV and the names and addresses of two referees, should be sent by email to Sharon Forman, Research Co-ordinator, Division of Clinical Neurosciences, email:

Please quote ref: MED/1228.

Closing date: 16 January 2014.

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