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 Photoacoustic Imaging Group                                                BORL

AVAILABLE RESEARCH POSITIONS

Postdoctoral Positions in Photoacoustic Imaging
Instrumentation

2 OPTICAL PHYSICISTS/ENGINEERS

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON
PHOTOACOUSTIC IMAGING GROUP
DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL PHYSICS AND BIOENGINEERING

Applications are invited for two postdoctoral optical physicists/engineers to join the UCL Photoacoustic Imaging Group. The primary role of these positions will be to develop a range of new biomedical photoacoustic imaging instruments based upon a novel optical ultrasound sensor. Potential applications include the clinical diagnosis of diseases such as breast and skin cancer and use as an investigative tool for basic research in the life sciences. The research undertaken will involve the design and construction of novel optical and fibre-optic systems, optoelectronic instrumentation and undertaking experimental imaging studies. These positions offer an opportunity to undertake research in applied optics and acoustics within an internationally leading research group and contribute to the development of a promising new medical and biological imaging technique.

 

In vivo photoacoustic image of the vasculature in the palm.
Left: photograph of the imaged region, right: volume rendered image.

The Research Area

Photoacoustic imaging is a new biomedical imaging modality that exploits the use of laser generated ultrasound to provides 3D images of soft tissue. It is widely viewed as one of the most exciting and promising imaging techniques to have emerged in recent years, on account of its demonstrated ability to provide non-invasive, high resolution images of tissue structure and function. The technique has applications in preclinical and clinical medicine and basic biological research for studying cancer, cardiovascular disease and other major conditions. It is currently one of the fastest growing biomedical imaging techniques. From a handful of groups active in 2003, there are now over 40 academic research groups worldwide developing biomedical photoacoustic imaging techniques and there has been significant recent industrial activity with the launch of a number of commercial photoacoustic scanners in the last 12 months.
            Photoacoustic imaging involves delivering, short (ns) low energy excitation pulses of visible or near infrared laser light to the tissue surface (for an overview of the physics and applications of the technique see Beard, P., 2011, Interface Focus, 1(4), pp.602-631). Absorption of the light by tissue chromophores such as haemoglobin leads to rapid heating followed by an initial pressure increase and the subsequent emission of broadband ultrasonic pulses. By recording the time-of-arrival of the acoustic pulses over the tissue surface, a 3D image of the internally absorbed optically energy distribution—the photoacoustic image—can be recovered. Image contrast is dominated by optical absorption making it well suited to imaging the vasculature due to the strong optical absorption of hemoglobin. As well as imaging vascular anatomy, functional information in the form of blood oxygenation and flow can be obtained: the former by acquiring images at multiple wavelengths and exploiting the spectral differences between oxy and deoxyhemoglobin, the latter by extracting the acoustic Doppler shift encoded on to photoacoustic waves emitted by moving red blood cells. In addition, it has a role as a molecular imaging modality through the use of exogenous targeted contrast agents and genetic reporters. Clinical applications lie in the detection, diagnosis and treatment monitoring of conditions such as breast and skin cancer, cardiovascular disease and abnormalities of the microcirculation. It also has an important role as a preclinical imaging modality for studying small animal models of human disease processes and as a tool in drug discovery and the development of other new therapies.  

The UCL Photoacoustic Imaging Group

Founded in 2003, the group was one of the very first groups active in the field and is now one of the largest worldwide comprising 20 postdoctoral researchers and PhD students. The groupís activities encompass all the key aspects of the technique: photoacoustic detection and excitation instrumentation, modelling of photoacoustic signals, image reconstruction algorithms, spectroscopic methods and preclinical and clinical applications. It has a strong international reputation regularly winning the outstanding paper prize at the principal annual conference for the field, has produced some of the highest cited papers in the field and was winner of the 2010 Roberts prize awarded annually for the best paper in the journal Physics in Medicine and Biology. The group is well funded and has five well equipped optical laboratories in the Department of Medical Physics and access to a dedicated imaging laboratory for undertaking in vivo studies in the UCL Centre for Advanced Biomedical Imaging (CABI). The group collaborates widely within UCL (CABI, UCL Cancer Institute, London Centre for Nanotechnology and the Departments of Medicine, Mathematics, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, Electronic Engineering and Chemistry) as well as number of universities in the UK and abroad

The Posts

There are two positions available. Both are focused on the development of photoacoustic instruments for medical and biological imaging based on a novel Fabry Perot based ultrasound detection technology (Laufer J, et al. (2012) Journal of Biomedical Optics 17(5), 056016) that we have pioneered. One position (Post 1) is concerned with the development of a preclinical scanner for biological imaging applications. The other (Post 2) will focus on the construction and evaluation of a scanner for clinical cancer imaging studies.

Post 1: Research Associate in Laser Photoacoustic Imaging Instrumentation:
Reference Number 1308215

The aim of this post is to develop a novel all-optical photoacoustic scanner based on the Fabry Perot ultrasound sensing concept for preclinical biomedical imaging. The objective is to develop an improved scanner based on a novel sensor architecture that will provide greater imaging depth, spatial resolution and quantitative accuracy than currently achievable. The project will be largely laboratory based and will involve the design and construction of novel free space and fiber optic systems, optoelectronic instrumentation, software development and experimentalimaging studies. This project offers an opportunity to undertake research in applied optics and acoustics within an internationally leading research group and contribute to the development of a promising new biomedical imaging technique.

A postdoctoral optical physicist or engineer with a strong track record of research achievement (or the potential to acquire one) is sought. Experience of lasers, free-space and fibre optics, PC based data acquisition and instrumentation control are required. Knowledge of some or all of the following would also be advantageous: interferometry, optical microfabrication, optical scanners, RF electronics, signal processing,  Labview programming, inverse problems and ultrasound. Knowledge of, or an interest in, biomedical optics or ultrasound would also be advantageous but is not essential.

Post 2: Research Associate in Clinical Photoacoustic Imaging Instrumentation:
Reference Number 1308343

The aim is to optimise an existing scanner design based upon a based on the Fabry Perot ultrasound sensing concept and construct a portable instrument that can be taken into a hospital for cancer imaging studies. A significant element of the project will involve conducting clinical studies in collaboration with clinicians at UCL Hospitals. The project will be highly interdisciplinary encompassing optical hardware and instrument design, software development, tissue optics and spectroscopy, image analysis and clinical studies. This post offers an opportunity to undertake translational research in photoacoustic imaging within an internationally leading research group and make a major impact on the clinical application of a promising new medical imaging technique.

A postdoctoral optical physicist or engineer with a strong track record of research achievement (or the potential to acquire one) is sought. Experience of lasers, free-space and fibre optics, PC based data acquisition and instrumentation control and a knowledge of biomedical optics are required. Good inter-personal skills and an ability to work well in a multidisciplinary team within a clinical environment are essential. Experience of some or all of the following would also be advantageous: interferometry, optical scanners, Labview programming, optical spectroscopy and in vivo optical or ultrasound measurements.

Salary and duration

Both posts, which are available immediately, are initially funded for 3 years by EPSRC. The appointments will be full time on UCL Grade 7. The salary range will be £32,375 to  £39,132  per annum, inclusive of London Allowance.

How to apply

To apply please go to http://www.ucl.ac.uk/hr/jobs/ and search on Reference Number 1308215 for Post 1 (Laser Photoacoustic Imaging Instrumentation) and Reference Number 1308343 for Post 2 (Clinical Photoacoustic Imaging Instrumentation).

Please note that applicants must include a covering letter, CV and the names of two referees in their applications.

The closing date for applications is 28 February 2013.

If you have any queries regarding either vacancy please contact Prof. Paul Beard (pbeard@medphys.ucl.ac.uk) or Dr Ben Cox (b.cox@ucl.ac.uk).

Further information on the research area and the activities of the Photoacoustic Imaging Group and the Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory (BORL), can be found at:

  1. Photoacoustic Imaging Group: http://www.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/research/mle/index.htm
  2. Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/medphys/research/borl/

 



 

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