PhD project

Optical coherence angiography (OCTA) for non-invasive structural and microvascular imaging in the oral cavity

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Application deadline

31 January 2023

Principal Supervisor

Dr Chunhui Li

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Oral carcinoma (OSCC) is the most common malignant neoplasm of the mouth. Potentially malignant disorders (OPMD) have been defined by the WHO in 2017 as “clinical presentations that carry a risk of cancer development in the oral cavity, whether in a clinically definable precursor lesion or in clinically normal mucosa”.  The current gold standard of OSCC diagnosis is invasive tissue biopsy and histopathological analysis. Existing clinical diagnostic tools developed for the early detection of oral cancer are not superior to clinical examination. Angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels, is one of the hallmarks of cancer development and is associated with malignant transformation from OPMD to OSCC.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an inexpensive, non-invasive, highly portable and in vivo imaging tool. Functional extension of OCT has also been explored for optical coherence angiography (OCTA). OCTA can identify red blood cell mobility against the relatively static surrounding tissue by highlighting the temporal change of sequence scans.  It can therefore provide high resolution images of structural and microvascular architecture of tissues including the changes in lesional or cancerous tissues.

The aim of proposed research is to develop the first fibre optic based optical coherence angiography (OCTA) probe for fast, high resolution (< 15 µm) and non-invasive structural and microvascular imaging in the oral cavity and use this to map the vascularity across multiple intra-oral sites in healthy volunteers and patients.

The objective of the projects are:

  1. Design and develop a flexible OCTA probe, which can assess and image various sites in the oral cavity in the clinical environment.
  2. Capture structural and microvascular images from different sites of healthy volunteers in the oral cavity and determine quantitative normal signatures at these sites. 
  3. Conduct the clinical trail to find out the diagnosis accuracy of the OCTA system.     

How to apply

  1. Email Dr Chunhui Li to:
    1. Send a copy of your CV
    2. Discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).
  2. After discussion with Dr Chunhui Li, formal applications can be made via our direct application system.

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Principal supervisor

Second supervisor

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Clinical Lecturer/Honorary Consultant in Oral Surgery +44 (0)1382 381654


PhD funding

The Chinese Scholarship Council provides opportunities for Chinese Students to undertake a PhD programme in any research field at the School of Life Sciences and the School of Science and Engineering. Successful applicants will receive support to enter the China Scholarship Council (CSC) competition scheme.

Funding eligibility: China