PhD Studentship: Testing a Disease Specific Diffusion MRI Model for Early Differential Diagnosis of Vascular Cognitive Impairment

University of Sheffield - Neuroscience

Early differential diagnosis of vascular cognitive impairment (VCI) has high clinical significance. This is partly to devise an effective treatment to delay progression of the disease into vascular dementia (VaD), and partly due to the burden on the dementia patient as well as their family and carers. We propose an innovative method for completely characterising the brain tissue in the micro scale to detect structural and functional alterations using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). MR Gradient Sensitised Imaging (GSI) is a novel and state-of-the-art technique to obtain diffusion and perfusion information from a single scan. Diffusion MRI methods allow to characterise tissue microstructure. Employing diffusion MRI techniques on the MR-GSI data, we will characterise the vascular and non-vascular tissue microstructure and microfluidics in the brain. A unique and complete mathematical framework depicting the geometrical model of the brain tissue structure constructed from tissue samples will be then applied to patients to validate the technique and see it reflects real structural and functional alterations in the brain tissues, making it clinically significant for the differential diagnosis of VCI from other forms of dementia. In summary, this project will serve to validate whether this novel imaging technique can be a disease specific diagnostic model for VCI and a path-breaking foundation upon which innovative approaches to dementia diagnosis and treatment can be built.

The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Doctoral Academy Scholarships cover Home/EU fee and RCUK rate stipend for three years. Overseas students may apply but will need to fund the difference between the Home and Overseas fee from another source.

Proposed start date: October 2017

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Northern England