Institution profile for UPhD studentship: Imaging brain networks in patients with Neurocysticercosis: identifying markers of seizure presentation

Closing Date
31 Aug 2020
Funded (UK/European students only)
University of Liverpool
4 years

Project Description

This is an exciting and novel fully-funded 4 year PhD programme in Neuroimaging / Neuroscience / Neurology in collaboration between the University of Liverpool, UK and the National Institute for Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore, India. The successful candidate will spend two years in Liverpool and two years in Bangalore, India.

Neurocysticercosis (NCC) is an infectious parasitic disease that is caused by infection with Taenia Solium, a tapeworm found in pigs. NCC is the most common cause of epileptic seizures in developing countries and is increasingly becoming an important health issue in developed countries. However, not all patients with NCC present with seizures. The reasons why some patients present with seizures and others do not are not well understood. Growing evidence indicates that aberrant structural and / or functional brain networks may be related to seizure presentation / response to treatment in people with epilepsy. The primary objectives of this project will be to determine whether network- and connectivity-based analysis of brain structure and function in patients with NCC can distinguish between those who present with seizures and those who do not. MRI connectivity studies will be supplemented with detailed analysis of calcified lesions on specialised MRI scans.

This PhD project will be divided into three parts:
Part 1 will take place in Year 1 and will be based in the Liverpool BRAIN lab (, which is directed by Dr Simon Keller. During this time, the successful applicant will learn the image analysis techniques that will be used to analyse data that will be acquired in Part 2.

Part 2 will take place in Years 2 and 3 at NIMHANS. This period will be dedicated to the acquisition and analysis of MRI data in patients with NCC who do and do not present with epileptic seizures at NIMHANS.

Part 3: This will take place in Year 4 and be back in the Liverpool BRAIN lab. This time will be dedicated to the completion of image analysis studies and thesis writing.

The student will have continuous support from a dedicated and expert supervisory team at both sites.
Both Liverpool and Bangalore are contrasting but equally exciting cities. This PhD programme is a fantastic opportunity for a student with a strong interest in Neurology and / or Neuroimaging and a desire for a unique lifetime experience!
Qualifications and Experience

You should have, or expect to hold a masters level degree (merit or higher) and at least a 2.1 in a relevant undergraduate degree programme (e.g. Neuroscience, Clinical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Anatomy, Psychology, Computer Science, Engineering). Experience of neuroimaging research in context of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree course is desirable, but not essential. Full training will be provided in relevant image analysis methods. Applicants should demonstrate a strong interest in neuroimaging and neurology.

Please note the English Language Requirement for EU Students is an IELTS score of 6.5 with no band score lower than 5.5.

To apply please send a CV and covering letter to Dr Simon Keller
For application enquires please contact: Dr Simon Keller

Further Information

Funding Notes
This PhD studentship is funded by a University of Liverpool International Postgraduate Research Programme award. The award includes 100% tuition fees and stipend. The stipend will be at the UKRI rate of £15,285 per annum for the two years in Liverpool. The stipend will be proportionally adjusted for the two years in Bangalore.
Applications are restricted to UK and EU applicants.
Please note that this studentship is expected to start in January 2021

Pal, D. K., et al. Neurocysticercosis and epilepsy in developing countries. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, 2000;68:137-143.
Nash, T. E., et al. Neurocysticercosis: A natural human model of epileptogenesis. Epilepsia, 2015;56:177-183.
Bernhardt, B. C., et al. Imaging structural and functional brain networks in temporal lobe epilepsy. Front Hum Neurosci, 2013;7:624.

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