PhD candidate – Metabolic Imaging to Improve Patient-Specific Therapy Outcome (MAESTRO)

PhD candidate – Metabolic Imaging to Improve Patient-Specific Therapy Outcome (MAESTRO)

Website UMC Utrecht

We are looking for a motivated and skilled PhD candidate to join our team. This vacancy is part
of the MAESTRO project, which is funded by NWO and co-funded by industrial partners
through the Perspectief programme.

The project
Metabolic perturbations often drive chronic diseases such as cancer and obesityrelated
metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. Ageing and unhealthy lifestyles
will increase disease prevalence in the coming decades, tremendously impacting our
society and economy. An imperative problem is that current treatments are not always
effective, resulting in reduced quality of life and societal participation, poor prognosis,
and high healthcare costs. The underlying cause is that existing treatment response
evaluations are unable to predict efficacy in an early stage. Thus, there is an urgent
need for novel methods. Particularly, measuring metabolic responses is promising to
provide early efficacy markers. In this project we aim to develop novel non-invasive,
radiation-free metabolic imaging technology based on ultra-high field Magnetic
Resonance Imaging (MRI) of X nuclei (phosphorus and deuterium) to measure
metabolic biomarkers predicting (non-)response to treatments and lifestyle
interventions in an early stage. The challenges that we will address are the long
acquisition times of whole-body metabolic imaging, and motion-induced signal
degradation. We will develop acceleration, motion correction and reconstruction
methods to increase spatiotemporal resolution, sensitivity and accuracy. We will test
the technical developments and demonstrate the potential of MRI-based metabolic
imaging to assess early therapy (non-)response in 4 proof-of-concept patient studies:
(i) systemic treatment of advanced cancer, (ii) radioembolization of tumors, (iii) lifestyle
intervention in prediabetes, and (iv) lifestyle intervention as add-on to conventional
cancer treatment. MRI-based metabolic imaging will lead to more effective treatments,
improving patient quality of life, societal participation and prognosis, and reducing
healthcare costs.

What you will be doing
• Develop acceleration, motion correction and reconstruction methods to increase
spatiotemporal resolution, sensitivity and accuracy of phosphorus and deuterium MR
metabolic imaging in the body.
• Collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of researchers in the MAESTRO project to
test the technical developments in patient studies.
• Communicate research findings through scientific publications, presentations, and

About the company
The UMC Utrecht is one of the largest academic medical centers in the Netherlands,
providing innovative patient care, groundbreaking research, and outstanding
education. The UMC Utrecht is dedicated to improving the health and well-being of
patients through state-of-the-art medical research and treatment.

About the high-field MRI research group
The high-field MRI research group is a team of about 50 researchers, developing and
applying advanced MR technology in medical science. Through a large network of
international academic and industrial collaborators we have embraced team science
and aim to maximize advancing medical imaging. Our research lines incorporate
inventions of MR technology to be able to see the unseen for advancing medicine. Our
clinical research focus areas are cancer, dementia, cardiovascular, stroke and MSK.
Our facility includes a 7T human whole body MRI system with several different
consoles, 9.4T and 7T preclinal MRI systems, RF coil lab, mechanical lab, RF cage for
preparing 14T MRI (excluding magnet), and a 7T META-scan in the near future.

• A Master’s degree in biomedical engineering, physics, or other related fields of study.
• Background in medical imaging (preferred).
• Affinity with scientific research.
• Talent for technology and data analysis.
• Ability to work independently and in a team-oriented environment.
• Good skills in English writing.
• Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

If you are passionate about scientific research and want to contribute to improving
patient care, we encourage you to apply for this exciting opportunity at UMC Utrecht.
Please submit your CV and cover letter.

To apply for this job please visit