EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Medical Imaging

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Imaging & Biomedical Engineering


This application brings together two world-renowned research- and educational-focused Universities in a unique collaboration to create an interdisciplinary training approach to meet challenges in healthcare. With complementary strengths in basic physical sciences, engineering and clinical translation, close strategic and geographical links and a CDT embedded within a top-rated teaching hospital, the KCL/ICL alliance is superbly placed to train the next generation of imaging scientists and research leaders.
The CDT will provide a unique interdisciplinary training program to develop the skills for creating innovative technical solutions through integration of the physical sciences, engineering and biological and clinical disciplines. The Centre will be integrated into a large research portfolio in medical imaging funded through EPSRC/Wellcome Trust Medical Engineering Centres, MRC centres, the CRUK/EPSRC Cancer Imaging Centres, and the BHF Centres of Excellence. In order to foster clinical translation of research, the CDT will be linked into two Academic Health Science Centres and NIHR-Biomedical Research Centres.
The CDT will create a critical mass of teachers and researchers to establish an interdisciplinary training program by bringing together students from different disciplines to work on research topics in medical imaging. The CDT will feature a 1 + 3 years MRes+PhD structure and will manage the students as a single cohort. We have developed the different phases of the PhD programme, i.e. Recruitment, MRes, PhD and Alumni, to achieve the highest quality in training, research and career development for the individual student. We place a strong emphasis on clinical translation, therefore the CDT will continue with a formal training programme in clinical applications in parallel to the PhD projects. In addition, the teaching location of the Centre in a dedicated, newly-refurbished CDT teaching hub within a world-class teaching hospital engenders strong links with the NHS and provides further enhanced opportunities for clinical translation. The first and foremost goal of this CDT will be to provide the highest quality supervision for individual students. To achieve this, we will combine the experience of senior supervisors with the energy and development of more junior academics. At the start of the CDT, we will be defining PhD projects from 60 supervisors with world-leading research expertise in the underpinning of the multidisciplinary themes in medical imaging. All of those scientists have a track record in PhD supervision and delivering research funded by research councils.
We have also identified clinical champions in three major disease areas (Cardiology, Oncology, Neuro) who will organize training in clinical application. This training is designed to forge interactions between scientists and clinicians. It will provide students with valuable contacts with whom they can discuss clinical implications of their PhD research.

The CDT will provide training of a new generation of scientists with skills in interdisciplinary research, clinical translation and entrepreneurship. The focus of both graduate training and the individual student research projects will be to innovate medical imaging technologies in the care cycle of patients across a range of diseases. Another central theme within the program will be training to translate innovations into commercial products. For this, we will leverage our strong industrial links and have obtained financial commitment for more than 25 co-funded industrial CDT studentships from various industrial partners. The partners, including new UK-based SMEs and start-up companies, will also provide internships to enable career paths into industry.

Planned Impact

Healthcare practice, both in the UK and internationally, is in a state of flux, with an explosion of costs for the major diseases due to late diagnosis and ineffective treatments. Over the last decade, the role of imaging has moved significantly, from being purely diagnostic towards the provision of guidance and assessment of treatment. Advances in imaging technology are often driven by parallel developments in complementary disciplines, including biomedicine, biology, chemistry and medicine. Therefore, advancing research at the intersections of these fields represents one of the most promising strategies and requires a new generation of scientists with a strong background in one discipline but having the skills to overcome the cultural and language differences of other areas. Interdisciplinary collaboration has been widely acknowledged as the key to future innovation in medicine and has become 'the mantra of science policy'. However, the development of interdisciplinary training has often been neglected. PhD students represent an excellent cohort for such an approach as they can build on a solidly trained discipline to develop new competencies and work across barriers. The aim of this proposal is the establishment of a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) for interdisciplinary training in medical imaging. It will create a critical mass of staff and resource to train a cohort of students from multiple fields. We believe that an interdisciplinary training approach combined with designated professional skills and career progression will prepare our students for a broad range of careers options in academia, healthcare service and industry. Consequently, the Centre will involve a number of different stakeholders:

1. Academia requires skilled researchers in medical imaging with a strong knowledge in basic science together with the competencies to understand the language of other disciplines. We have established a large international network with world-class academic institutions such as NIH, Harvard, MIT, Memorial Sloan Kettering, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, Sunnybrook, Auckland, University of Melbourne, INRIA, Utrecht, Erasmus MC, ETH Zurich, TU Munich, UCL, Leeds and Oxford. In particular, we have established successful PhD exchange programmes in medical imaging with Santiago and Nancy Universities, Harvard Medical School and ETH Zurich. We will also provide PhD training in imaging research for the Francis Crick Institute, a partnership between Imperial College London, King's College London, University College London, Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust.

2. Industry: We have strong links with large imaging and device companies and the pharmaceutical industry including Philips, Siemens, Biotronic 3D, GE, St Jude Medical, Glaxo Smith Kline, Nikon, Bayer Healthcare, and others as well as SMEs and university start-ups, like CyDar, Centron Diagnostics, Ixico, Imanova, Lightpoint Medical. The proposed training program will enable many students to perform a PhD project with a company and follow career paths in industry.

3. NHS and patients will profit from new technologies and staff who have a strong emphasis on patient care. The CDT will involve two academic health sciences centres at KCL and ICL. The central training location at St. Thomas' Hospital is an ideal place for interactions between practising clinicians and the student cohort. This will have significant societal impact in terms of health and quality of life.

4. The UK Public will profit from the research arising from the CDT over the longer term, via Wealth Creation. In order to maintain the international excellence and viability of healthcare innovation in the UK and, in particular in medical imaging, it is necessary for universities to put in place interdisciplinary teams of scientists to discover future products for healthcare needs.


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