Current departmental funding opportunities are listed above. We also welcome PhD applications throughout the year from students with independent scholarship funding. We cannot, however, normally accept applicants wishing to support themselves with personal funds; such applications may be considered, on a case by case basis and will require additional Departmental approval.

Please visit the PhD Bioengineering webpage for more on the programme and application process.

Studentships

Blast Injury and Chronic Pain: Treatment and Outcomes, a very long-term cohort study

Supervised by Professor Andrew Rice with Dr Emily Mayhew
Programme code: BHZC

The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies (CBIS) and Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College London welcome applications from high-calibre candidates for a PhD studentship. This will be jointly supervised by Dr Emily Mayhew (Historian in Residence) and Professor Andrew Rice (Professor of Pain Research). 

This is a collaborative applied history of medicine PhD studentship for which applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates from a range of backgrounds spanning from medical and military history to medicine and related disciplines. Moreover, this is a unique opportunity to study the long-term health outcomes of injured First World War veterans and interpret these in the context of veterans with similar injuries from contemporary conflicts. You will join an existing functional and successful collaboration between medical historians, engineers, medical researchers and archivists. The innovative supervision model means that you will be embedded within, and benefit from a dialogue with, research teams at a world leading Medicine and Engineering university who are conducting cutting edge research in pain and the medical effects of blast injury. 

Clinical Problem. 
Chronic pain afflicts blast injury survivors beyond the acute stage of their treatment, with many experiencing neuropathic residual limb pain and amputation-related pain such as stump or phantom limb pain. Chronic pain remains a significant health problem impacting rehabilitation and return to work. Chronic pain in the amputee population also negatively affects efficient prosthetic fit and use. Historical evidence indicates that chronic pain and chronic post-surgical pain have been significant impediments to the successful rehabilitation of military casualties since 1916. Studies of chronic blast injury pain in the military cohort are underway in both US and UK research environments, including at CBIS. These studies are based on a relatively small cohort of patients with chronic pain caused by wounding from conflicts occurring in the 21st century. Currently researchers have no access to comprehensive datasets drawn from historical records of military patients with identical pain conditions. 

Research Plan. 
It is proposed to provide such a dataset by analysing the Ministry of Pension assessment and appeal records for military casualties generated from 1918 through to the late 20th century. The utility of this data for contemporary pain researchers is based on the similarities in wounding patterns between the First World War and today’s conflicts. In both cases, the majority of wounds were inflicted by high velocity artillery and explosive devices, with the attendant complexities of blast and ballistic trauma. The First World War created an amputee cohort of 41,000 veterans. Initial searches have indicated that many of the appeals for the award of a pension were made on the basis of chronic pain conditions relating to wounding. The files cover the lifetime of each patient and contain detailed case histories of diagnoses, treatment and outcomes of the various pain conditions that affected them. This primary source will be complemented by others, for example the archives of limb fitting certes at the Erskine and Roehampton hospitals and the published medical literature. 

The PhD student will work towards completing a written thesis, with associated publications, summarising the findings relating to the cohort of chronic trauma-related pain. As key components, the student will produce a detailed analysis of the most common forms and treatment of chronic pain in military veterans with blast or ballistic injury and other forms of weapon wounding, and an analysis of the diagnostic modes within specialisms used to assess pain for the pension appeal process as they changed through time. The thesis will be formulated so as to ensure maximum utility to 21st century pain and blast injury researchers and, as part of its conclusions, will suggest the possible clinical relevance of its findings.

How do bones acquire their shapes? Establishing a paradigm for the biology and mechanobiology of synovial joint development.

Project description
The movement of a baby in the womb is critical for normal development of their bones and joints. However, the link between the mechanical stresses and strains that arise due to these movements and critical processes during formation of the skeleton remains unclear. This is due to the complex interactions that occur between biological (cell activity) and mechanical influences (stresses and strains) as the skeleton forms. In this PhD project, experimental and computational modelling techniques will be combined to reveal the ‘rules’ governing prenatal joint development.
Fish and chick models will be used to gather information on how joint shapes and patterns of cell activity are affected by a change in the fetal movements. These data will be incorporated into a computational model which, by the end of the PhD, will be able to predict how joints grow and change in shape over development. Finally, human fetal anatomical data will be incorporated into the computational model to predict how human joints grow and change shape over prenatal development, and how a change in fetal movements can negatively affect joint shape.

The PhD student will benefit from a broad and interdisciplinary research training, learning a range of experimental (e.g., fish and chick embryology, histology, immunohistochemistry, 3D imaging) and computational techniques (e.g., automated image processing, image registration, finite element analysis). The project is a collaboration with Dr Chrissy Hammond at Bristol University, and there will be the opportunity for research secondments and frequent interactions with the collaborating supervisor. The student will join a vibrant and interdisciplinary group working on a variety of topics relating to the role of mechanical forces in skeletal development. Please see the group webpage for more details on the current research (nowlangroup.org).

Application (deadline is 15 January 2018)
To express your interest in this PhD project, please send a single PDF document including a one-page cover letter discussing research interest and experiences, and a two-page CV, to Dr Niamh Nowlan (
n.nowlan@imperial.ac.uk).

*The standard PhD studentship covers home/EU tuition fees and provides a bursary (this was £16,553p.a. for 2017-18, including London weighting).
**Motivated overseas students (non-UK/EU) can discuss alternative funding **

Human performance related to role specific injuries in the military

SUPERVISORS: PROFESSOR ANTHONY BULL AND PROF ALISON MCGREGOR‌

A stipend and fees for 3 ½ years will be awarded.  Students must satisfy the eligibility criteria, including UK or EU residence for three or more years.  Candidates will also be required to pass a Ministry of Defence (MOD) security check.

Imperial College London invites applications for this unique research collaboration between the Departments of Surgery and Bioengineering at Imperial College London and the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) Headley Court.  The project is funded by the Women in Ground Close Combat (WGCC) and focuses on injuries in military personnel, in particular how different body types and gender are suited for specific roles within the military and how this may affect training methods and the propensity for injury.

To find out more about research at Imperial in this area, follow this link:
http://www.imperial.ac.uk/msk-lab/research/human-performance/

For further details, please contact
Professor Alison McGregor (a.mcgregor@imperial.ac.uk, + 44 (0) 20 8383 8831) or
Professor Anthony Bull (
a.bull@imperial.ac.uk, +44(0) 207 594 5186)

Modelling the biomechanics of prenatal movements

Project description
The movement of a baby in the womb is critical for normal development of their bones and joints. However, very little is understood about what stresses and strains are induced in the developing skeleton by fetal movements. In recent work from our group, we designed the first ever computational models of fetal kicks and calculated how the biomechanical stimuli in the hip joint are influenced by a range of fetal positions and intra-uterine conditions (see group webpage nowlangroup.org for further information). This PhD project will lead to the first ever computer models of fetal arm movements and thereby determine the biomechanical stimuli resulting from a range of fetal movements over gestation.

Human anatomical data for a range of prenatal ages has already been obtained from our clinical collaborator. The first step of the project will be to segment the arm anatomy for different ages. Next, fetal arm movements will be identified and tracked from cine-MRI scans (also from clinical collaborators), and the reaction forces for each movement calculated using finite element analysis. Musculoskeletal modelling will be used to calculate the likely activation pattern of muscles. Finally, finite element analysis will be used to calculate the biomechanical stimuli acting in the different regions of the arm. Full training on all techniques will be provided.

Application
To express your interest in this PhD project, please send a single PDF document including a one-page cover letter discussing research interest and experiences, and a two-page CV, to Dr Niamh Nowlan (n.nowlan@imperial.ac.uk).
*The standard PhD studentship covers home/EU tuition fees and provides a bursary (this was £16,553p.a. for 2017-18, including London weighting).
**Motivated overseas students (non-UK/EU) can discuss alternative funding **

 

NEUROMECHANICS OF INSECT VISION AND BIO-INSPIRED APPLICATIONS

Supervisor: Dr Lin, Huai-Ti

Eligibility and funding details

This PhD studentship in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London is fully funded* for UK/EU candidates** (3-years) starting anytime between October 2017 and March 2018. Eligible candidates should have a bachelor degree (2.1 or first class) or a master degree (merit or distinction) in Natural Sciences or Engineering with laboratory experiences.
*The standard PhD studentship covers home/EU tuition fees and provides a bursary (£16,553 in 2017/18)*
**Overseas students (non-UK/EU) can discuss alternative funding with Dr. Lin.

Project description
The eye movements dictate how we see the world. While modern machine vision starts to rival biological visual computations, there is currently no robust framework for how to steer a robotic vision system to collect critical information. Indeed, learning where to look is one of the best lessons a visually guided robotic system can take from biology. In this project, we use large flying insects (e.g., dragonfly) as a model system to understand how the gaze control contributes to the planning and execution of complex flight behaviors (e.g., mate pursuit, prey interception, territorial displays). The project consists of several elements including motion capture for freely flying insects, insect neck biomechanics, wireless neural recording, modeling flight behaviors using sensory neural data, and implementing a smart camera gimbal for a robotic vision system. The project is suitable for students interested in biological visual guidance and motion planning using vision.

Please see the lab website for information about the NBits Lab

Application

A successful candidate should have good understanding of biological systems at the organismic and physiological level. A proven track record in hands-on laboratory work and proficiency in small-scale dissections/manipulations will be highly desirable. Abilities to program (e.g., Matlab, Python, and/or C++), and knowledge in electronics are a plus. Experiences in high-speed photography are helpful. Most importantly, the applicant must be highly motivated, shows clear interest in visuomotor systems, and enjoys a multi-disciplinary research environment. Since dragonflies are field animals, the lab will periodically go out in the field for collection and observation during the spring-summer season.

To apply for the position, please send a single PDF document including a one-page cover letter discussing research interest and experiences, a two-page CV, a copy of transcripts, and contact information of two references to Dr. Huai-Ti Lin (h.lin@imperial.ac.uk) with subject line “NBits_PHD_APP”. Application will stay open until the position is filled.

Plant-on-a-Chip: Funded project with CDT in Plastic Electronics

Students eligible for UK Research Council funding are welcome to apply to the 4-year (1 year MRes + 3 years PhD) fully funded projects summarised below. These projects are not usually available for international applicants. We strongly advise early applications.

Food security is a major concern worldwide. Plant diseases caused by filamentous plant pathogens (fungi and oomycetes), bacteria, viruses, and nematodes cause hundreds of billions of pounds in annual loses and severely impact subsistence agriculture. Pattern recognition receptors in plants recognize pathogen associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) at the cell surface and initiate a cascade of signalling events leading to PAMP triggered immunity. Our understanding of the mechanisms of activation of plant immunity is quite limited although a number of chemical signals are known to play a role as part of the immune reaction. In this project, we will develop plant growth chips with printed electrochemical sensors to detect and quantify chemical signals in living plants in real-time upon activation of plant immunity. These sensors will be designed to detect defence related fluctuations in living plants that can be scaled-up to perform high-throughput screens and will substantially accelerate cloning of new immune receptors.

The applicant should ideally have a background in electroanalytical techniques and printed sensors, and an interest in learning plant biotechnology. 

For more information, contact Dr Firat Güder: f.guder@imperial.ac.uk

How to apply: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/plastic-electronics-cdt/apply/how-to-apply/

 

RESEARCH INTO ALGORITHMS AND ARCHITECTURES FOR IMAGE ANALYSIS AND COMPUTER VISION

SUPERVISORDR ANIL BHARATH
Funding details: Due to the nature of our funding, we can only consider candidates with UK/EU status at present. If awarded, the funding covers tuition fees and a stipend at standard research council rate for 3 years (e.g. £16553 for 2017-18).

Application deadline: tbc

Contact details: Bharath, Anil A a.bharath@imperial.ac.uk 

Therapeutic Microbubbles and Ultrasound Pulse Sequences for Noninvasive and Localised Drug Delivery

Eligibility and funding
This PhD studentship in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London is fully funded for UK/EU candidates (3-years) starting anytime between 1 January 2018 and 30 March 2018. Overseas students will be considered if alternative funding can cover the additional international student fees. Eligible candidates should have a bachelor degree (2.1 or first class) or a master degree (merit or distinction) in engineering or physics.


Project description
Motivation and Background. The most common reason drugs fail in clinical trials is side effects. Drugs administered systemically effect not only the disease, but the entire body. Considerable work has been committed to localise the effects of drugs to diseased sites by manipulating their distribution pattern. Yet the leading approaches of drug modification (e.g., reduction of drug size) and drug attachment to a delivery carrier cannot localise the drug without incurring off-target side effects. The only method that can locally deliver drugs is focussed ultrasound and microbubbles, which is the technique we would like to develop in this project.
Purpose. The purpose of this PhD project is to enhance the safety and performance of ultrasound drug delivery by the simultaneous development of ultrasound sequences and microbubbles. New ultrasound sequences will be based on low pressure, short-pulse sequences (Choi et al., PNAS 2011) that we have developed (Pouliopoulos et al., JASA 2017). We have shown that our sequence suppresses the collateral interactions that are undesirable in drug delivery. Therapeutic microbubbles will be developed with the collaborating company, which are designed specifically to be controlled by the ultrasound beam. Both the sequence and microbubbles will be developed here in a single study to develop the following:
• Therapeutic microbubbles. The student will identify optimal microbubble designs for ultrasound drug delivery and report the mechanisms behind the interactions that are beneficial or harmful.
• Ultrasound sequences. The student will design optimal sequences for drug delivery and explain why certain features promote or suppress interactions that are beneficial or harmful to tissue.

Programme of Work. The programme of work will span 3 years in laboratories at Imperial College London and the company (in the EU). A PhD student with a background in physics or engineering is desired. A multi-disciplinary team of supervisors will guide the PhD student’s work and will be comprised of Dr. James Choi (Department of Bioengineering, Imperial), Dr. Valeria Garbin (Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial), and a principal investigator at the company. The student will be primarily based at Imperial, but will also have the opportunity to work at the company.
To achieve the purpose of this project, we will begin by understanding the kind of interactions produced within a therapeutic ultrasound beam by direct optical observation, passive acoustic imaging, and modelling. We will then modify the ultrasound pulse shape and microbubble composition and track how the diversity and types of interactions change. This process will be repeated in an iterative manner until the desired interaction is controlled while the other interactions are suppressed. Near the end of the project, we will evaluate in vivo the safety and performance of drug delivery using our new pulse sequences and microbubbles.

Fig. 1. Conventional sequences – emission of long pulses (10 ms) at a slow rate (1 Hz) – deliver drugs across the capillaries, but also damage vessels. (a) The left mouse brain was sonicated with a single beam in the presence of systemic microbubbles (Definity®) and a fluorescent model drug (3-kDa dextran). Delivery was confirmed as bright regions in (a) that do not appear in the unsonicated right region (b). However, (a) ultrasound also damaged micro vessels (yellow arrows) and arteries (red arrows). (Choi et al, JCBFM 2010).

Fig. 2. (a) Experimental setup used to identify the (b) pulse shapes and (c) microbubble sizes that safely alter BBB permeability.

Application
A successful candidate should have a background in engineering or physics.
To apply for the position, please send a two-page CV as a PDF to Dr. James J. Choi at j.choi@imperial.ac.uk
Since this position needs to be filled as soon as possible, we will be processing application on a rolling basis. Contact Dr. Choi as soon as possible.
*The standard PhD studentship covers home/EU tuition fees and provides a bursary (approximately £16,260p.a.).

Centre for Blast Injury Studies

The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College is a collaboration between military and civilian clinicians, scientists and engineers. With core funding from the Royal British Legion, CBIS is an Imperial College/Royal British Legion/Ministry of Defence partnership. 
Please check the Centre opportunities page for further details.

Centre for Doctoral Training in Neurotechnology for Life and Health

The ESPRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Neurotechnology for Life and Health spans the Faculties of Engineering, Natural Sciences and Medicine at Imperial, with investigators from thirteen different departments including Bioengineering, Life Sciences, and the Division of Brain Sciences. The CDT offers fully-funded 4-year studentships comprising an initial MRes year and 3 years of PhD.

Please check our How to apply page for full details and a list of available projects.

College-wide scholarships

PhD applicants to Bioengineering may also be nominated for some of the available College scholarships. Please visit the Imperial College Scholarships page for full details of all PhD scholarships available and application processes.

If applying for funding, you should contact your chosen supervisor well before the deadlines listed above to ensure that they have sufficient time to review your application and - if appropriate - arrange an interview. Candidates who do not meet the relevant deadlines can be considered for the PhD programme but may not be considered for departmental funding. Please consult our research pages for further details.