Image Processing for Adaptive Radiotherapy

Cancer treatment is continually advancing, with new therapies being developed.  Radiotherapy has been, and still is, the correct treatment for a variety of cancer types and stages.  Adaptive radiotherapy treatment, that focuses the beam of radiation on the focus of the disease, relies upon imaging technologies to ensure that the tumour is receiving the correct dose of radiation, and also that other organs at risk are protected.  Treatments often use imaging modalities such as ultrasound (US), or cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), where the contrast between different soft tissue organs is poor.  This makes it hard to delineate them, and hence identify the tumour location at time of treatment.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) provides excellent contrast of organs, making their identification easier, but unlike computed tomography (CT) imaging cannot be used to estimate the dose of radiation delivered during radiotherapy.  As a result, the ability to register MRI images to treatment day ultrasound and CBCT images would be a significant advantage.  The registration of the images must be non-rigid as the MRI scan is typically taken on a different day under different conditions, thus the organs will have moved, and may be deformed due to natural bodily functions, as well as the possible introduction of medical devices, on the treatment day.

This PhD programme will explore current rigid and non-rigid registration techniques, and develop new solutions to better support adaptive radiotherapy technology.  The results of the work will assist in the development of updated treatment plans for patients, ensuring that they receive treatment that is effective, and has minimal side-effects.

The Institute for Digital Communication (IDCOM) in the School of Engineering at The University of Edinburgh is working collaboratively with the Edinburgh Cancer Centre (ECC), based at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, to advance research in the area of image processing.  This PhD opportunity will give the student access to the expertise in the areas of signal and image processing at IDCOM, and the clinical and imaging expertise in ECC.

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School of Engineering Logo

Principal Supervisor: 

Dr David I. Laurenson

Assistant Supervisor: 

Dr William H. Nailon


Applicants will have a minimum of a 2.i Undergraduate degree, or an MSc degree, in electronics or computing science, with a strong background in signal analysis, or signal/image processing.  Ideally, transcripts will evidence an aptitude for mathematical analysis, as well as experience in project work in a research environment.  Further information on English language requirements for EU/Overseas applicants.


Eligible applicants will be put forward for doctoral training account funding.

Further information and other funding options.

Informal Enquiries: