Optical Tomography

This PhD will provide an exciting opportunity to develop advanced theoretical and computational tools for Optical Tomography.
Application deadline
Funding information

Competition Funded Project (European/UK Students only)


Optical Tomography is an emerging biomedical imaging technique characterised by high sensitivity and specificity to tissue pathology not accessible with other imaging techniques. It detects changes in tissue function and metabolism that take place prior to structural changes.  This distinguishes Optical Tomography as an early diagnosis and treatment assessment tool, from the more established imaging techniques that only detect structural changes, and has unique clinical potential. The goal of this PhD is to create tools to explore and exploit this potential. 

The PhD student will undertake one of the following projects:

  1. Polarisation-Sensitive Optical Tomography of Mesoscopic Systems

One area of recent interest is optical imaging of mesoscopic systems such as epithelial tissue, engineered tissues and model organisms, whose size is of the order of the transport mean free path of light. Over 80% of cancers occur in the epithelial issue. For these cancers, and there is an urgent need for new approaches to three-dimensional tissue characterisation for early diagnosis and monitoring. This need is also shared by basic and preclinical cancer studies.  Most of the current imaging techniques are based on measurements of light intensity. However, there are tissue morphological, biochemical and functional characteristics of important clinical value that are not accessible with light-intensity measurements. In particular, cancer is associated with changes in cell symmetry, composition and organisation of tissue that can only be probed with measurements of light polarisation.

This project aims to reach beyond the current state-of-the-art in tomographic imaging of mesoscopic systems and devise a novel polarisation-sensitive optical tomographic technique. This PhD will develop: forward models for polarised light propagation in the biological tissue; inverse models and image reconstruction algorithms; software codes for image reconstruction.

2.  Cherenkov Emission Based Optical Tomography for Functional Image Guided Radiation Therapy

New approaches to cancer management are centred on personalised therapy based on tumour assessment via functional and molecular imaging.  An emerging area of research involves the use of radiation-induced Cherenkov light emitted in the biological tissue undergoing radiation therapy. In particular, Cherenkov light offers unprecedented opportunities for tissue functional imaging, which is  the key ingredient for early treatment assessment, treatment optimisation, and personalised therapy.

This project will investigate the characteristics of Cherenkov emission in radiation therapy in specific clinical situations, and will devise and verify via numerical experiments the optimal light detection mechanism and optical tomographic imaging with Cherenkov light for the specific radiotherapy treatments. This will ultimately contribute to the development of a system for functional image guided radiation therapy.

CVSSP is a leading UK research centre and one of the largest in Europe with over 125 researchers and a grant portfolio in excess of £20.5million and a robust track-record of innovative research leading to technology transfer and exploitation. CVSSP is part of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and has been ranked third in the UK in the Guardian newspaper league table 2017. The Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering achieved a 92.9% overall satisfaction for NSS 2017 and is rated seventh in the UK for Electronic Engineering in the The Complete University Guide 2018

The CVSSP Medical Imaging Group is part of the Medical Physics and Medical Imaging Group at the University of Surrey, bringing together scientists from various disciplines. It has strong collaborations with physicists, biologists and clinicians at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, The National Physical Laboratory and The Institute of Cancer Research, and a strong research record in Medical Imaging. In addition, the studentship will benefit from collaborations on Optical Tomography with leading UK and US groups.

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Eligibility criteria

Applicants should have:

  • A first class or 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent overseas qualification) in an appropriate discipline (e.g. physics, applied mathematics, engineering, computer science).  You should be able to demonstrate excellent analytic and programming skills.
  • Previous experience in medical imaging/medical physics would be advantageous. 
  • Open to European/UK students only.

How to apply

For enquiries contact Dr Lucia Florescu indicating your areas of interest and including your CV with qualification details, copies of transcripts and certificates,  and the names and contact details of two referees.  Non-native speakers of English will normally be required to have IELTS 6.5 or above (or equivalent). Shortlisted applicants will be contacted directly to arrange a suitable time for an interview.

This will be for October 2018 entry.

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