PXE is a rare genetic disorder with pathological calcifications in the skin, blood vessels and retina. The latter results in a retinal degeneration with poor vision from age 50 years on. The UMC Utrecht has established the National Center of Expertise in PXE and has assembled a world-wide unique cohort of over 400 patients. Within this cohort, observational and interventional studies are performed. We have collected extensive imaging data of the eye, including optical coherence tomography (OCT), infracyanine green angiography (ICG) and fundus autofluorescence (FAF). In a previous PhD-project, we developed an innovative technique to measure retinal calcification using the Spectralis®-OCT scan. With the use of segmentation software, the reflectivity values of retinal layers were obtained, which are presumed to be a proxy for calcification. This technique will be improved and tested.
Part of this project is the analysis of retinal imaging in the placebo-controlled TEMP Prevent trial. In addition, you will study the immunological response of PXE patients to a breakup of the blood-retina barrier, visualized by OCT and ICG images.
Your task will be to design new methods and improve on current techniques of retinal imaging of calcification in PXE. These methods will be applied to existing and newly acquired imaging. The results of the studies will be published in scientific journals and presented at scientific meetings.
The project has been awarded funding from UitZicht, a cooperation of Dutch funds for people with visual impairment, and is a collaboration between the Ophthalmology Department and the Image Sciences Institute.
If you enjoy working on creative and out-of-the-box solutions for difficult problems and are capable of working in a multidisciplinary team, we are looking for you! As a PhD candidate, you will enroll in the PhD program Medical Imaging of the Utrecht University Graduate School of Life Sciences (see: https://www.uu.nl/en/education/graduate-school-of-life-sciences/phd/medical-imaging).
This research will be carried out at the Image Sciences Institute (ISI) and the Ophthalmology Department at the University Medical Center Utrecht. The Image Sciences Institute is housed within the Radiology and Oncology Division of the University Medical Center Utrecht. The division is internationally renowned for its research on image acquisition, image analysis, artificial intelligence, and image-guided interventions. You will be working in a team of PhD students and staff from both the Radiology and Ophthalmology Departments and you can participate in activities of both departments. For more information, see www.isi.uu.nl and www.imago.uu.nl.
We are looking for a PhD-candidate with: