Focusing on the next major advance in medical imaging
Medical-imaging technologies have revolutionised healthcare, enabling doctors to safely peer deep inside the human body to diagnose disease. The EU-funded BE-OPTICAL project is helping to train the next generation of researchers in the field, contributing to the development of even more advanced life-saving imaging systems.
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The BE-OPTICAL project network is providing a unique and structured training programme to 14 early-stage researchers covering a wide range of optical-imaging technologies and signal-processing tools. The network is supported by seven leading academic groups and two non-academic partners in five European countries.
Working with an interdisciplinary team of physicists, engineers and medical doctors, the PhD students are studying an assortment of optical-imaging systems with a focus on cutting-edge technologies, including fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy, optical coherence tomography and optogenetics.
These systems promise the next major advance in medical imaging, enabling enhanced analysis of organic compounds, tissues and cells, or the study of neurons in the brain to identify factors involved in neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders.
The researchers are also developing signal-processing technologies needed to convert imaging data into usable information that can inform doctors diagnoses, guide effective therapy strategies and assist in surgery.
The academic partners provide complementary expertise in optical imaging, nanotechnology, computer science, complex systems and data analysis. The non-academic partners include a leading company in fluorescence instrumentation and an internationally recognised ophthalmology clinic, with advanced technology and expertise in ocular diseases.
The training programme will provide the early-stage researchers with a broad understanding of how many optical-imaging technologies and data-processing tools work, enabling them to apply this knowledge to advance the early diagnosis of different diseases and opening the door to a wide range of job opportunities. The PhD students will also gain insights into clinical studies of novel imaging technologies and the processes required to prepare them for commercial application.
The EUs Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions programme is backing BE-OPTICAL for a period of four years. This funding was awarded through the extended training networks (ETN) scheme, which is designed to boost scientific excellence and business innovation through intersectoral and interdisciplinary research training.