PhD student | Novel MRI techniques for detecting disease activity in Multiple Sclerosis (ACTIVITY)

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Your challenge

The project focuses on imaging disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS). People with MS develop focal abnormalities (lesions) in the brain and spinal cord, which can be visualized using in vivo magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. During the first weeks of lesion formation, the inflammation can be detected by performing MR imaging after administering Gadolinium-based contrast agents intravenously. The Gadolinium-enhancing lesions thus detected provide a very specific result in the context of MS, because they unequivocally demonstrate inflammation occurring at that moment in those specific lesions. As such, Gadolinium-enhanced imaging has become an important component of MR imaging in MS in the context of both diagnosis and follow-up, especially on treatment. Nonetheless, there are important reasons to look for alternatives to the use of such Gadolinium-based contrast agents. The procedure is invasive, and some people can develop an allergic reaction. Importantly, Gadolinium-based contrast agents can accumulate in the body of people after repeated intravenous administrations for MRI examinations. Although there are no known harmful effects of such accumulation, the radiological community is starting to look for alternative possibilities for detecting inflammation in MS.

In this project, you will investigate three alternative strategies for detecting MS lesion activity. First, you will investigate whether serial high-resolution 3D-FLAIR imaging is able to capture all (relevant) lesion activity. Second, using multi-modal conventional imaging and artificial intelligence, you will investigate whether the presence of Gadolinium-enhancing lesions can be inferred from unenhanced dual-echo, FLAIR or T1-weighted images. Third, using three advanced quantitative MR imaging techniques (quantitative susceptibility mapping, intra-voxel incoherent motion, and arterial spin labelling), you will investigate whether the microstructural substrate or the perfusion characteristics of enhancing lesions are distinct enough to identify them among other lesions. This third question will be answered through a prospective study in which you will acquire new MR imaging data in people with MS.

Main tasks and responsibilities in this project are to:

  • Apply classical and AI-based image analysis techniques to detect and infer new and Gadolinium-enhancing MS lesions from conventional MR imaging;
  • Implement the advanced quantitative MR imaging techniques on the MR scanner used for the prospective study In collaboration with MR physicists;
  • Set up and carry out the prospective in vivo study;
  • Conduct analyses of the raw data of the advanced quantitative MR imaging to obtain quantitative parameter maps and perform statistical analyses;
  • Report findings in peer-reviewed papers and at conferences;
  • Contribute to the department’s teaching activities.
Your profile

We are looking for a candidate with the following qualities:

  • You hold an MSc degree in (medical) physics, (bio)medical technology, medical natural sciences or equivalent;
  • You are an honors student with an excellent track record;
  • Knowledge of, or experience with MRI analysis and/or acquisition software and systems is an advantage;
  • Experience with software programming is an advantage;
  • Mastery of the Dutch language is not compulsory;
  • You have a positive, flexible attitude, combined with great team spirit.
Your work environment

The MS Center Amsterdam, part of Amsterdam UMC, is one of the world’s leading centers for research and care in multiple sclerosis (MS) and a tertiary referral center. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) plays an important role in diagnosis and research in MS. In many of the multi-disciplinary research projects, MRI is an important component.

You will be employed in the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, section Imaging Methodology Group (head: Prof.dr. R. Boellaard). You will be based in the Structural Brain Imaging Group led by Hugo Vrenken, which focuses on quantifying structural changes in the brain and spinal cord in MS and different types of dementia. In addition to pursuing clinical research questions to unravel the pathological changes in MS and AD, we develop and validate new methods, and attempt to facilitate transfer of research imaging methods to a clinical setting. A large part of our research concerns the analyses of the images once they have been obtained. The Structural Brain Imaging group is embedded in the clinical routine of the Radiology department and as such you will also learn on how to report on MS studies. Your project is supervised jointly by Dr. Jasperse and Dr. Moraal (both neuro-radiologists), and Dr. Ir. Vrenken (physicist).

Working at Amsterdam UMC means working in an inspiring and professional environment where developing one`s talents and academic skills are encouraged. We offer you ample opportunity for development, deepening and broadening, additional training, and a place to grow!

We offer

Salary Scale PHD: 2495 tot 3196 euro gross when employed full-time (depending on qualifications and experience).

The monthly wage will increase yearly to the maximum salary in the fourth year of 3,196 € gross per month.

In addition, we offer:
– Additional benefits include an 8.3% end-of-year bonus and 8.0% holiday pay.
– The opportunity to follow further training and development.
– Pension is accrued at the ABP. VUmc contributes a large part of the premium (70%).
– In addition to excellent accessibility by public transport, we reimburse 75% of your OV travel costs (commuting costs).

We offer a 4-year contract, with an intermediate evaluation after 1 year.

For more information about our employment conditions, please visit our website.

For Dutch citizens it is mandatory to provide a VOG (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag). Foreign citizens need to provide comparable police clearing certificates.

Information and application

Don’t hesitate to call us!
If you’re interested about this position, you can contact Dr. ir. Hugo Vrenken, via telephone number 020 444 8704.
If you need more information about the application procedure, contact Brend de Jong, corporate recruiter at 020 444 5635.

You can apply till 31 August 2021 by using the apply button.

Acquisition based on this vacancy is not appreciated.

Herinner mijSolliciteren
36 uur


  • Er is geen minimale opleiding vereist

Wat wij bieden

€ 2.495,- tot € 3.196,-
36 hours
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