Early Stage Researcher (PhD-position) in Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN project (FHML/School for Card...
The Early Stage researcher (ESR) will be trained within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) INTRICARE and will perform research project 10 "Hybrid PET/MRI of key aspects of plaque vulnerability in different vascular beds", primarily within CARIM, Maastricht University, under the supervision of Dr. Kooi and with a secondment in King's College London under supervision of Prof.dr. Botnar. INTRICARE (International Network for Training on Risks of vascular intimal Calcification And roads to Regression of cardiovascular diseasE) is an interdisciplinary international consortium involving 4 leading academic institutions and 9 SME's from 6 countries. The ESR will engage in network-wide training events.
Objectives of the PhD project The ESR aims to develop and employ state of the art hybrid molecular non-invasive imaging ((PET)-MRI) together with comprehensive multiparameter data analysis for the in-vivo assessment of “vulnerable” plaque. This will be approached in different vascular beds (carotids, coronaries) to provide morphologic, functional and molecular information on the development and response to treatment of atherosclerosis. Depending on the background of the PhD student, the project will be focused on patient studies (for an MD) or on technical developments (for a physicist or biomedical engineer). This project will be closely linked to other projects within INTRICARE and will have links to Siemens. Methodologies: The ESR focuses on MRI and hybrid PET/MRI of plaque vulnerability. Maastricht and London have an identical clinical integrated PET/MRI system, a fully digital preclinical PET and identical clinical MRI systems and complementary expertise in cardiac and vascular PET imaging including MR carotid and coronary artery imaging, thereby providing an excellent research and training platform for cardiovascular PET/MRI. Human and preclinical PET/MRI studies will focus on vulnerable plaque characterization, i.e. endothelial permeability (contrast enhancement on LGE), inflammation (uptake of 18F choline in PET), plaque deformation, and intraplaque haemorrhage (hyperintense signal on T1w TFE MRI or short T1 on T1 map). As the major challenge for coronary plaque imaging using PET/MRI is respiratory and cardiac motion we will use the MR navigator for respiratory motion correction. Cardiac motion will be corrected using ECG-gating. Expected results At the end of the project, we will have 1) demonstrated the feasibility of imaging plaque vulnerability in different vascular beds with hybrid PET/MRI, 2) obtained more knowledge on processes leading to plaque destabilisation and clinical events. The project will be finalised with several papers in international peer-reviewed journals and a PhD thesis.
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