PhD project

Wound healing monitoring using optical coherence angiography (OCTA)

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Application deadline

31 January 2023

Principal Supervisor

Dr Chunhui Li

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Wounds are a common health problem worldwide. In the United States, 11 million people were affected and about 300,000 people were hospitalized yearly due to acute wounds [1]. In addition, approximately 5.6 million people in the States were affected by chronic wounds annually. The expenditure for managing theses wounds were over $1 billion [2], representing ~2% of total EU financial resources [3]. In UK, National Health Service (NHS) managing an estimated 2.2 million patients with a wound during 2012/2013 with an annual cost of £5.3 billion, equating to 4% of total expenditure by the publicly funded NHS in the UK in 2013 [4]. Of these, 40% were considered to be acute wound, 48% were considered to be chronic and 12% were lacking any specific diagnosis.

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is an emerging non-invasive assessment tool that overcomes many weaknesses inherent in other equivalent modalities and is free of side-effects. It is a real-time tomographic imaging technique using low-intensity infrared light focused within living tissue. Interferometric detection of reflected light enables high-resolution, 2- or 3- dimensional, cross-sectional visualisation of skin and wound morphology as well as blood vessel distribution analogous to histology.

This project intends to develop a novel, non-invasive optical imaging modality for monitoring skin wound healing process and diagnosing pathological scars. The technology is based on extended functionality of traditional OCT, combining high resolution (< 15 um) 2-dimension and 3-dimension structural images with microvascular mapping and quantitative elastography. We hypothesise that skin vascular and elasticity information captured will aid understanding the wound healing process and reliably diagnose pathological scars. A successful outcome will be a novel portable system with a handheld probe that is capable of measuring the wound size, imaging the vascular network and stiffness distribution in wound region to demonstrate diagnostic feasibility. Detailed research aims include:

1. Develop a portable handheld OCT system that is able to generate 2D or 3D depth-resolved cross-sectional skin wound structural images and corresponding elastogram and angiogram in an in-vivo mice model.

2. Determine key parameters for wound healing monitoring and pathological scar diagnosis through the information obtained by functional OCT system.


[1] Demidova-Rice TN, Hamblin MR, Herman IM. Acute and impaired wound healing: pathophysiology and current methods for drug delivery, part 1: normal and chronic wounds: biology, causes, and approaches to care. Advances in skin & wound care. 2012 Jul;25(7):304.

[2] Ramsey SD, Newton K, Blough D, Mcculloch DK, Sandhu N, Reiber GE, Wagner EH. Incidence, outcomes, and cost of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Diabetes care. 1999 Mar 1;22(3):382-7.

[3] Bitsch M, Saunte DM, Lohmann M, Holstein PE, Jørgensen BO, Gottrup F. Standardised method of surgical treatment of chronic leg ulcers. Scandinavian journal of plastic and reconstructive surgery and hand surgery. 2005 Jun 1;39(3):162-9.

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.

Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Biomedical Engineering

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Principal supervisor

Second supervisor


Clinical Professor (Teaching and Scholarship) +44 (0)1382 383499


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