PhD scholarship in MR Imaging of Transcranial Ultrasound Waves

torsdag 10 sep 20

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Frist 31. oktober 2020
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Transcranial Ultrasound Stimulation (TUS) is an emerging non-invasive brain stimulation method that can achieve a highly focused stimulation also of deeper brain areas. By that, it offers unique new prospects for the treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases. Controlling the dose (i.e., the strength and spatial distribution) of the ultrasound waves in the brain is central to ensure that TUS has the desired effects on brain physiology while being safe. However, this is a challenging task because the waves are strongly affected by the human skull, which has complex and uncertain acoustic properties.

MR imaging can be made sensitive to the acoustic radiation forces caused by the ultrasound waves (termed MR-ARFI - Magnetic Resonance Acoustic Radiation Force Imaging). In the future, MR imaging might thus be used to measure the ultrasound wave pattern in the in-vivo human brain, enabling an online targeting optimization and safety control during TUS. However, so far, MR-ARFI suffers from a low sensitivity that prevents its use in human TUS.

Our aim to advance MR-ARFI to make it ready for human in-vivo applications. This will require improving the MR sensitivity to enable reliable measurements of ARFI-related phase changes at low ultrasound intensities that are known to be safe. At the same time, a sufficient robustness of the MR measurements to physiological noise needs to be maintained. We have ideas on how this can be achieved both by systematic optimization of established MR-ARFI approaches, and also by novel MR sequences with higher intrinsic stability to physiological noise. However, we need your help in the methods development, experimental validation and publishing the results.

Responsibilities and tasks
You will be the daily responsible for the project. Your main tasks will be the development and validation of MR sequences for ARFI and the implementation of a MR-compatible TUS setup that includes stereotactic neuronavigation. Initially, this will involve simulation-based sequence optimizations combined with phantom measurements. We aim for proof-of-concept tests of in-vivo MR-AFRI measurements in humans in the final phase of the PhD project. Simultaneously, you will advance your scientific career by learning and developing new techniques and publishing the results.

You will be embedded in a group of researchers that combine expertize in MR physics, in particular phase imaging, image-based TUS simulations and practical hydrophone measurements of TUS acoustic waves. The project group is headed by Profs. Axel Thielscher and Lars G. Hanson. Flexibility and self-motivation are desired skills. In addition, we expect you to be interested in collaboration and take personal responsibility for your work. We offer substantial academic sparring in an informal atmosphere.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) in biomedical engineering, physics or equivalent, or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

Prior experience with MR imaging, in particular MR sequence development or optimization, is required. Good programming knowledge, in particular in Matlab or Python are desired.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years. 

You can read more about career paths at DTU here

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Axel Thielscher,

The employment and primary activity will be at the Neurophysics group of the Center for Magnetic Resonance, Department of Health Technology (DTU Health Tech) at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) in Lyngby, just North of Copenhagen that is characterized by a very international atmosphere and is globally recognized as a very attractive site for settling.

The project is conducted in collaboration with the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance located at Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, Denmark, where experimental data will be acquired. 

You can read more about Neurophysics at the Center for Magnetic Resonance at and about DTU Health Tech at

Please submit your online application no later than 31 October 2020 (local time)Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it. 

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply. 

DTU Health Tech engages in research, education, and innovation base on technical and natural science for the healthcare sector. The Healthcare sector is a globally expanding market with demands for the most advanced technological solutions. DTU Health Tech creates the foundation for companies to develop new and innovative services and products which benefit people and create value for society. DTU Health Techs expertise spans from imaging and biosensor techniques, across digital health and biological modelling, to biopharma technologies. The department has a scientific staff of about 175 persons, 130 PhD students and a technical/administrative support staff of about 80 persons. 

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,000 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.