PhD Opportunity: Development of microfluidic devices for advanced ultrasound imaging

PhD Supervisor: Dr Stewart Smith

Application Deadline: Open until position filled

Funding Availability: Open to UK/EU/Overseas applicants. Studentships will cover University fees (at UK/EU or overseas rate), plus a stipend for 3.5 years at the enhanced EPSRC rate (£14,640 for 2013/14). 

Project description:  The measurement of microvascular flow and volume (MVFV) is essential in the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of a large number of diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. However, the major imaging technologies (MRI, CT, Ultrasound) have, so far, not offered a robust tool that provides accurate MVFV quantification.

The problem partly lies in the lack of a toolkit that characterises imaging technology performance. There are two possible project areas available. In the first we propose to assemble an in-vitro microvascular network that is based on advanced microfluidic technologies available at the Universities of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt. This challenging project requires the design and implementation of vascular networks that branch progressively from large arteries down to micro-capillaries. Development of a 3D microvascular tree that simulates vascular sizes, pressure maintenance and vascular resistance is the major challenge of the project.

The second possible project area will also involve the development of microfluidic devices but in this case the aim will be to improve the imaging technology through the use of contrast enhancement agents. In the case of ultrasound these consist of “micro-bubbles” where the contrast in material density leads to an increase in reflection of the sound waves. These bubbles are typically prepared using a relatively crude process which leads to an extremely large variation in size and in order to use them in the imaging of microvascular networks there is a requirement to filter out a narrow size range. This project will therefore involve the development of microfluidic technologies to produce size sorted bubbles for use in future ultrasound imaging applications. Micro-bubbles also have applications in drug delivery, and it is possible that the project could explore this.

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This project is designed to fulfil an increasing demand by all diagnostic imaging technologies to progress to the quantification of MVFV. All these technologies are available in Edinburgh through the supervisors’ teams and collaborators. The aspiration is to explore patentable commercial and research applications towards the end of this project.

The student will be provided with the necessary training and will be given the chance to work with an international collaboration network engaging in multidisciplinary research (imaging, signal/image processing, microfluidics, in vivo preclinical research). Existing international collaborations in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Denmark may directly benefit from this project.

This project is linked with Heriot-Watt University and Dr Vassilis Sboros:  

Eligibility and qualifications: Applicants must be of outstanding academic merit: a first class or upper second class honours undergraduate degree (or International equivalent) is the minimum qualification requirement.

Candidates for these positions should have a degree in a suitable subject (eg, mechanical or electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, medical physics). Experience in research into microfabrication, computer aided design or multiphysics modelling is desirable but not essential as training in these areas is part of the studentship. 

Please apply trhough the Apply link below

Select the Research Area referred to in the advert and clearly state on your application form which project you are applying for and the relevant supervisor.

Informal Enquiries to:

Further information:

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