Imaging fluid flow in the brain – relation to dementia?

Imaging fluid flow in the brain – relation to dementia?

Project Code: 


This is a prestigious 4-year PhD funded by Medical Research Scotland and with support from Siemens Healthcare. It is set in a major centre for stroke and dementia research with a particular focus on small vessels. It benefits from both Siemens industrial collaboration and global academic collaborations with expert laboratories elsewhere.


The brain depends on a network of small blood vessels for continual energy supply and waste removal. Many cases of dementia and stroke are due to the blood vessels not working properly, but the cause is not properly known due to difficulty in studying the vessels in life. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) offers some promising new ways to measure their function and its effects on the brain, but these scans currently take a long time and have not been widely tested.

In this project, we will investigate the pulsatility of blood vessels, brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Advanced MRI techniques will be refined and tested in healthy volunteers and in a range of patients with mild stroke or cognitive problems.

Pulsatility will be measured using a ‘4D flow’ (3D + time) protocol. We will optimise the balance between temporal resolution, spatial resolution and examination time, aiming to collect data with 1mm spatial resolution throughout a thick slab of the brain within 20 minutes. We will use a multi-channel head coil together with state-of-the-art acceleration techniques.

The 4D flow measurements will be compared with conventional measurements in feeding arteries and draining veins, conventional blood pressure and pulse wave velocity. Of particular interest will be the progression of pulse waveforms down the arterial branching structure, through brain tissue and CSF spaces, and into the veins, information that is not traditionally available.

Tissue motion will be studied using an experimental rapid imaging technique that has whole brain coverage every 100ms. Analysis of these images will be synchronised to the cardiac and respiratory cycles to investigate their influence on patterns of brain pulsation.

Training opportunities

You will develop your skills within a multidisciplinary imaging research environment, working alongside imaging scientists, radiologists and clinicians. Training will include novel MRI techniques, scanner pulse sequence programming, the handling of large data sets, and computational image analysis using packages such as Matlab and SPM. There will be the opportunity to attend conferences and spend some time with the industrial partner Siemens.


A good honours degree in the physical sciences, computing, mathematics or engineering. Experience with MRI/NMR would be an advantage. Good interpersonal skills and the ability to work independently are essential.

Enquiries about the studentship should be sent to Prof Ian Marshall

Additional Project Info 
The studentship includes tuition fees at the Home/EU rate, annual stipend and research consumables for 4 years. Interviews are likely to be held in late April-May for September 2018 entry.
Primary Host Research Centre 
Funding Status of this Project 
Deadline for Application 
Friday, 6 April, 2018
Research Area(s) 
Dementia (including Alzheimer's disease)