Erasmus MC – PhD student on development and validation of advanced MRI biomarkers of glioma

Glioma is the most frequent and devastating of primary brain tumours. Overall survival in these patients varies widely, from less than 2 years to over 14 years. It has recently become clear that prognosis is strongly associated with the tumour’s molecular profile. However, even the slow-growing tumours with relatively good prognosis eventually become highly aggressive and no longer treatable.

The aim of this PhD project is to non-invasively map cell proliferation and migration in human glioma, which will improve tumour localisation, treatment response assessment, and eventually prediction of malignant transformation of glioma. The PhD student will do this primarily by development and validation of biomarkers derived from chemical exchange saturation transfer magnetic resonance imaging (CEST MRI), and matching these novel MRI biomarkers with results of proteomic analyses of targeted biopsies of the same glioma. This research project that includes works with state-of-the-art imaging techniques in an international and multidisciplinary team, with the aim to translate and combine findings from fundamental research in glioma proteomics, MR imaging techniques and image analysis, into clinically applicable and highly relevant diagnostic tools.

In this 4-year project, the PhD student is expected to streamline the process of acquiring advanced MRI scans and using these images to perform targeted biopsies in glioma patients. In addition, the PhD student is expected to link the advanced imaging parameters with the results of the proteomics analysis of the targeted biopsies. This is a challenging and multidisciplinary project, which translates and combines findings from fundamental research in tumour proteomics, advanced imaging techniques and image analysis, into a clinical application for investigating brain tumour physiology with MRI.

The PhD student will work as a member of a team of both clinically and technically oriented researchers that are based at the Erasmus MC (Rotterdam, The Netherlands) and at King’s College London (The United Kingdom). This team consists of engineers, physicists, radiologists, neuro-surgeons, and pathologists. Although you will be based in Rotterdam, you will have close ties with the research team in London.

You should be an independent and highly motivated researcher with an MSc or MEng degree in a technical domain (such as Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, Informatics, Clinical/ Biomedical Technology). Affinity for or experience with MR brain imaging and working knowledge of image processing and/ or programming is highly valued. You should have excellent English verbal and written skills to communicate and work with clinicians as well as researchers from various fields such as Neurology, Biology, Medical Informatics.

Being able to present a certificate of good conduct, a valid proof of identity, diploma’s and/ or relevant registration such as BIG/ RGS are conditions for the appointment.

Erasmus MC stands for a healthy population and excellence in healthcare. By conducting groundbreaking work, we aim to push boundaries through leading the way in research, education and healthcare. We have access to the latest equipment and techniques in a state-of-the-art environment.

The project is hosted by the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine (Dr. M. Smits, Dr. E. Warnert) and is locally embedded in the Brain Tumour Centre at Erasmus MC. Close collaboration will occur with the Neuro-oncology group (Prof. M. van den Bent, Prof. J.M. Kros, Dr. T. Luider). The Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine has an internationally leading position in radiological research, of which advanced and physiological MR neuroimaging is an important aspect. The Neuro-Oncology unit at the Erasmus MC Cancer Center is focused on the treatment of primary brain tumours, and on neurological complications of cancer and its treatment and has an international leading role in multicentre trials on glioma.

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