Our students

Our students come from a wide range of scientific, technical, engineering and mathematical backgrounds. Many join us after a period working in industry. Because medical imaging is a broad and diverse research area, our students have first degrees a variety of subjects:

  • Applied Mathematics / Mathematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering-related disciplines
  • Physics

Programme structure

Over their four years of study within the CDT, we aim to equip all of our students with the skills and knowledge that will enable the to explore a rang of career options after their PhD.

CDT students normally follow a 1+3 pathway. In their first year, they typically join a cohort of around 15 to study for a Masters of Research (MRes) in Healthcare Technology. Their remaining three years are spent focusing on their PhD research project and thesis.

Students also follow an Advanced Skills training programme and enjoy other extra-curricular opportunities throughout their MRes and PhD.

MRES Year

The MRes is taught by King’s academics, with select modules featuring Imperial academics to showcase their research on relevant module topics.

The course syllabus includes a mix of common training modules, specialist elective modules from the relevant pathways of: Medical Imaging, AI in Healthcare Technologies and Molecular Imaging, and the individual MRes research project.

The course also has group activities that will foster interdisciplinary training as well as cohort building. The relevant CDT MRes pathway components are:

  • Common Training on research design, creative media, scientific publishing & peer review, journal club, scientific funding, healthcare economics, healthcare challenges, research ethics, sustainability, equality & diversity
  • Group Training in form of an interdisciplinary group project bridging between the different pathways, and to further promote cohort building
  • Personalised Training based on elective modules relevant to individual research project
  • Individual Training in the form of an MRes research project, as scientific foundation to the PhD

The MRes project will be written up as a report, with formal assessment by supervisors and an independent academic (typically one of the Scientific Theme Leads). MRes students will present their project to the cohort to share their research experience. The MRes year has been designed so that CDT students will “hit the ground running” when they embark on their PhD, as they will have acquired all the necessary skills needed. Several students from our current CDT, in fact, have published journal or conference articles during their MRes year, and all our students are expected to finish their PhD within the three years.

3-year PhD

Students carry out their 3-year long PhD research projects under the supervision of King’s or Imperial academics at their lead supervisor’s university. Projects are directed towards at least one of our four smart medical imaging themes.

As a CDT PhD research student, you will join a world leading interdisciplinary group of over a hundred scientists and clinicians. Our interdisciplinary nature provides a unique environment for our focus on rapid translation of cutting-edge research into the clinic.

In parallel with your research project, you will benefit from a dedicated training programme in transferable skills, responsible research and innovation, and entrepreneurship.

In year 2 of their PhD, CDT students will also choose from the following placement options:

Placements will normally run for a period of 3 months.

Facilities

Our students are based at four different King’s and Imperial campuses, where they have access to sector-leading facilities.

Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals at King's College London

  • 6 research clinical MRI scanners including 1 at 7T, 1 at 3T, 3 at 1.5T, 1 XMR at 1.5T
  • Mass spectrometry, HPLC and fluorescent microscopy systems
  • PET Centre research facility with 2 PET-CT scanners
  • Cyclotron-supported clinical PET-MR
  • Pre-clinical PET-CT, SPECT-CT, PET-MR, a 9.4T NMR, extensive ultrasound facilities and a DNP polariser
  • Microbubble contrast agent fabrication and characterisation facilities
  • 3 x 32-64 channel EEG systems, with 2 MR-compatible for simultaneous EEG-fMRI data collection

King's College Hospital And The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience At King's College London

  • 4 MRI scanners, including 3 at 3T and 1 at 1.5T
  • Pre-clinical 9.4T MRI scanner
  • EEG laboratory

Hammersmith Hospital and White City Campus at Imperial College London

  • Pre-clinical 9.4T MRI scanner, PET-SPECT-CT, IVIS Lumina III and FMT
  • Clinical 3T MRI scanner with large bore
  • PET-CT scanner
  • 32-channel EEG system

South Kensington Campus at Imperial College London

  • 3T MRI and 3T PET-MR scanners
  • Pre-clinical 7T MRI system
  • Extensive ultrasound facilities
  • High-speed optical microscopy setup
  • Microbubble contrast agent fabrication and characterisation facilities

Beyond The Research

Industrial Placements

Many partner organisations are keen to host our students on placements. These experiences prove valuable to their studies and to our CDT as a whole.

Our students’ skills and expertise are highly sought after by research institutions and technology companies alike. Through our networks and support many opportunities have arisen for students to gain experience with external organisations.

Rob Robinson, CDT student During my time at the CDT, I have had the opportunity to undertake several internships for different multinational technology companies. For my first placement, I worked on a project at Samsung involving building, training and testing deep learning-based classifiers. These are algorithms that take an input – for example an image or a sound – and assign it to different categories depending on its content.

My work involved error-proofing and unit-testing of this codebase. We needed to run large numbers of experiments to find the right settings for all of our parameters, so I also conducted automated evaluation and validation of the algorithm. One aspect I found interesting was the systematic manner in which the progress was continuously assessed. Deliverables were a key outcome for all projects at Samsung. Each project had milestones at which we showcased recent work, known as “Demos”. This helped focus all of our research.

Before going into my placements, I had a general idea of what the industrial environment might be like, but my experience taught me a lot about the realities of the workplace. Perhaps the primary takeaway was the importance of demonstrating how our work related to our project goals and, ultimately, the impact it would have on the product and customer.

Conference Attendance

Whether it is through attendance as a delegate, speaking or organisation committee membership, involvement in conferences is an integral part of our students’ experience.

Students attend conferences around the world in their own fields of research. These provide the opportunity to gain further insights into their research areas, network with experts, and explore future professional opportunities.

We also hold our own Post-Graduate Research Symposium, a yearly event attended by up to 150 delegates, organised by a committee of our own students. Keynote speakers have previously included industry partners, clinicians and academics.

Elisa Roccia, CDT student: A highlight of my time at the CDT has been my involvement with the CDT’s Post-Graduate Research Symposium. I had responsibility for overall supervision of the different teams of students involved in organising the event and acted as liaison with the CDT Management Board. With this experience under my belt, I have since been asked to join the organising committee as Executive Co-ordinator for the IEEE International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging, a significant scientific conference.

Advanced Training

Covering a range of subjects, experts from across our institutions and from industry partners regularly provide workshops for our students.
Workshops include:

  • Introduction to public engagement
  • Research ethics and Data management
  • Responsible research and innovation
  • Making the most of conferences
  • Writing up your thesis
  • Preparing for your viva
  • Career seminars (academia, industry, policy)
  • Research seminars

Public Engagement

At the CDT, students are encouraged to take part in public engagement projects. Public engagement allows mutual learning between the public and the academic community. It enables students to use their scientific knowledge and skills to inspire and educate new audiences and allows their research to be informed and strengthened by the insights of communities with lived experience.

Public Engagement initiatives that CDT students have taken part in include:

  • Workshops at Science Gallery London – Taking a creative approach to research to engage and inspire young adults
  • Great Exhibition Road Festival – Sharing scientific knowledge and passion with thousands of visitors at a large science festival
  • STEM for Britain – Showcasing research to UK MPs through a poster competition at the Houses of Parliament
  • Pint of Science – Taking science to the local pub to give the public an insight into the latest research developments across the field
  • Coding for Girls– Inspiring the next generation of female coders through interactive workshops
  • I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here! – Participating in a reality-TV style competition, where school students are the judges
CDT students demonstrate the potential of VR in surgical planning at the Great Exhibition Road Festival 2019 Children with heart conditions visit the Science Gallery London to hear about our cardiac surgery-related research
CDT staff and students explain the use of radioactivity to diagnose and treat cancer at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition 2018 CDT students host a series of Coding for Girls workshops for local Girlguiding groups

Public Engagement Ambassadors

Formed in early 2019, the Public Engagement Ambassadors (PEAs) are a group of CDT students and alumni with an enthusiasm for public engagement. The PEAs endeavor to further embed public engagement into the CDT’s research culture and practice. Their responsibilities include planning and delivering engagement projects, encouraging the involvement of fellow students, and providing advice and insights to the CDT’s public engagement officer. If you are a CDT student who would like to become a PEA or a member of the public interested in their work, please contact Bella Spencer.

 

Meet our ambassadors

Aishwarya MishraAishwarya Mishra, 2nd Year CDT student

My PhD is aimed at the delivery and tracking of nanomedicines in the body using new radiotracers, imaging and focused ultrasound. Being involved in public engagement during my time at KCL, has given me a better understanding of my research field. I enjoy interacting with the public, especially kids and explaining basic concepts of radioactivity, cancer and chemistry. I am a keen advocate of use of STEM engagement to counter myths and false information in present times. Outside work, I enjoy watching a fair bit of cinema and theatre. Also, I am a big fan of museums and exhibitions.   

Elsa-Marie OtooElsa-Marie Otoo, 2nd year CDT student

My PhD research focusses on the visualisation of 3D imaging and its use in medical education, diagnosis and surgery. I like teaching in general, so really enjoy interacting with the public, explaining interesting topics such as my work and being a BAME representative to inspire others. In my free time I like writing poetry, reading Jmanga and manhuas.

Faysal FarahFaysal Farah, 2nd year CDT student

My PhD focuses on developing nanoparticles that can combine two different imaging techniques to help with cancer diagnosis and management. Public engagement allows me to have meaningful conversations with the general public about my research (and science in general), and it is one of the ways in which I can encourage students from BAME backgrounds to get involved in STEM. When not in the lab, I would often take part in football matches or binge watch the latest documentary on Netflix.

Jonny JacksonJonny Jackson, 3rd year CDT student

The aim of my PhD is to construct a patient-specific model of the arteries in the heart in real-time using 2D images captured during surgery. Spending time talking to a young wannabe astronaut, or a science fair-fanatical retiree, is a great reminder ojust how much science can influence and inspire people. Though I occasionally get to talk about the use of neural networks in heart imaging that forms my research, during my public engagement projects I’ve mainly  focused on the bigger picture around AI ethics, scientific pursuit and education. Outside my PhD, I’m that friend who’s always doing too many side projects.  

Jyoti MangalJyoti Mangal, 1st year CDT student

Having studied classroom physics most of my university life, I’m currently gaining hands-on knowledge and experience in medical imaging for my PhD. My research work focuses on developing new ways to image the human brain at high resolution using MRI. My main interest in public engagement lies in helping the public, patients and knowledge seekers understand the nitty-gritties that goes behind neuroimaging. Far (way far) outside my field, I like being in the mountains for the fun hikes, pretty stars and non-sulfurous air.

Madeleine IafrateMadeleine Iafrate, 4th year CDT student

The goal of my PhD research is to be able to track the location of human cells within a person’s body using a combination of genetic engineering, radiopharmaceutical development, and medical physics. I love talking to as many people as I can about science and the environment, and I have been known to speak at public engagement events, coordinate them (e.g. Pint of Science 2019), and even host a podcast about all things PhD. Outside of my research, I am actively trying to find ways of reducing the environmental impact of scientific research waste and I won a Churchill Fellowship to continue my work in this area

Peter GawnePeter Gawne, Alumni (Student 2015-2019)

During my PhD, I designed new methods to potentially validate new drugs with medical imaging scanners using radioactivity. Throughout my project, I have taken part in various public engagement activities including organising and designing science festival stands, writing lay articles and the hosting of public events. I believe public engagement is an essential part of science, which benefits both the public and researchers. When I’m not in the lab, you will probably find me reading books, putting off doing exercise and watching too much TV.

Samuel VenninSam Vennin, Alumni (Aligned student 2014-2018)

My PhD focused on investigating the relationship between blood flow and pressure to derive new clinical technologies and gain insights on the physiological mechanisms causing hypertension. My biggest achievement is… not having fainted once in my whole PhD even though I can’t stand blood!  I have participated in various types of engagement activities during my time at King’s, from planning science festival stands to writing lay summary articles and organizing workshops in schools. Beyond my research, you can find me outside running everywhere or inside reading anything.

Virginia FernandezVirginia Fernandez, 1st year CDT student

I have just begun my PhD, which is about generating an atlas of the diseased human brain using Deep Learning. For years, I have been obsessed with drawing cartoons about  science; at the beginning it was a way to explain scientific concepts to myself in a simple and funny way, but then I discovered the value of making them for and with the public. For me, being involved in public engagement is like bringing a pair of lungs to my research: it is a way to exchange, show what we are working at and bring in some fresh air to our projects. During my “”free”” time, I do a bunch of different things, from hiking in nature to participating in podcasts about cinema, but my favorite activity is – of course – drawing. I could do that all day.