PhD Studentship: Ultrahigh resolution endoscopy for cancer diagnosis

United Kingdom
Posted 9 months ago


Location:  UK Other

Closing Date:  Thursday 31 August 2023

Reference:  ENG1686

Vision: We are seeking a PhD student that is motivated to engineer a new optical diagnostic technology that will ease the burden of diagnosing cancer in the world. Together we will make technological advancements that impact society far beyond the reaches of academia; as such this PhD opportunity will appeal to students with career aspirations in industry and/or academic research.

Motivation: Early diagnosis of cancer is an extremely challenging task, meaning that often a diagnosis is obtained at very late stages (e.g. when malignant tumours are large enough to feel or see in ultrasound/MRI etc). Currently there is a major global push to develop technologies that allow tumours to be found, e.g., when they are the size of a grain of sand (instead of the size of a golf ball), or even to detect secondary/tertiary effects that early cancer has on non-tumorous tissue. Furthermore, new technologies are needed to support the gold-standard diagnostic pathway: biopsy + histopathology. Tissue biopsies are challenging and destructive procedures and histopathology is severely understaffed as an industry (there are more snow leopards in the wild than histopathologists in the UK!). Clearly new early cancer detection technology is needed and you can help create the next generation of clinical technology.

Aim: You have the opportunity to engineer a new technology and early cancer diagnostic procedure that is safer, faster, cheaper, quantitative, and repeatable. This project will use a proof-of-concept endoscopic technique (developed at the University of Nottingham) that is currently the highest resolution such technique in the world and uses the best of both diagnostic-worlds: light + ultrasound. Cancer is extremely difficult to detect using light alone, however ultrasonic waves are heavily manipulated by cancerous tumours. Pancreatic cancer has a 93% 5-year mortality rate and will be an area of focus for this PhD due to its highly mechanical presentation (ultrasonically sensitive) and our pancreatic cancer expertise at the University of Nottingham and the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

What we offer: 

  • A world-class multidisciplinary research environment that encompasses expertise in optics, electronics, nano-engineering, computer science, cancer biology, and clinical science.
  • An inclusive and positive work place that puts you on the frontier of cutting edge science and engineering.
  • Hands-on skillset development in: optics, electronics, coding, nano-fabrication, AI, clinical applications, and more.
  • The opportunity to produce top-tier publications in world-renowned journals.
  • Potential for pursuing intellectual property of the technology developed.
  • International travel to conferences and collaborators.
  • Fully funded (tuition + stipend) for domestic students (UK) with possibility for full funding for exceptional international students.

What we are looking for:

  • A 1st class or 2.1 (or equivalent) degree in a relevant field of study: e.g. optics, physics, electrical/electronic engineering, computer science, bio-engineering, etc.
  • An enthusiastic, self-motivated, resourceful, and hardworking student with strong communication skills (orally and written).
  • Basic coding capabilities in any language (e.g. MATLAB, Python, C/C++).
  • The ability to work collaboratively in a team across disciplines.

Thank you for your interest! We are currently accepting applications for studentships that will commence in 2023 and 2024. Please contact Dr Salvatore La Cavera (, Nottingham Research Fellow in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and the Optics and Photonics Research Group.


Job Features

Job CategoryInternship and training

Apply Online

Check Also

Fecal Transplantation: A Promising New Approach Against Parkinson’s Disease

Belgian researchers have found that fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) could hinder the progression of symptoms …