Supervisor: Professor Fiona Gilbert, Department of Radiology
Development of novel magnetic resonance imaging techniques to measure hypoxia in breast cancer
Tumour hypoxia is an important prognostic factor in oncology, linked to therapy failure and poor patient outcomes. There is growing interest in non-invasive methods to monitor the oxygenation status of tumours using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods.
The purpose of this project is to develop and optimise functional MRI techniques to detect blood and tissue oxygenation level-dependent contrast in healthy human breast parenchyma and in breast cancer patients. Techniques to measure tissue hypoxia in its native state and to measure the dynamic response to hyperoxic and hypercarbic stimuli will be investigated. Over the course of my PhD, I will explore different acquisition strategies, including pulse sequence development and stimulus optimisation, as well as quantitative statistical image analysis techniques to characterise tumour hypoxia, with the aim of making these methods more widely applicable in clinical breast cancer care.
More precise measures of oxygen levels in vivo would allow better selection of the most appropriate population of patients that would benefit from novel anti-hypoxia directed therapies.
Supervisor: Manj Sandhu
Epidemiology of Noncommunicable disease in sub-Saharan Africa and the translation of research into health policy.
The rapidly increasing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) poses an enormous challenge to the region. A key barrier to the development and implementation of appropriate public health policy and intervention programmes is the lack of high quality data. Context-specific high quality studies on NCDs and their risk factors in SSA are therefore imperative to provide a framework for evaluation and implementation of prevention and management strategies, and health policy in SSA.
The first phase of my research aims to assess the burden and aetiology of NCDs and their risk factors, in particular diabetes and its complications. For this, I will use data from population based epidemiological studies in Durban, South Africa and Entebbe, Uganda.
Secondly, I will conduct applied research into the prevention and control of NCDs in these countriesfocusing on the issues of self-management and adherence associated with chronic disease management in these settings. Finally, I aim to examine the policy implications of this research and translation into policy.