UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science


Fully funded PhD Studentship at the Institute of Cardiovascular Science

HiP-CT x SVD: Deep-Phenotyping of Single Ventricle Disease (SVD) by Synchrotron-based Hierarchical Phase Contrast Tomography (HiP-CT)

Applications are now open - closing date 29/02/2024

Key Information

Lead supervisors: Prof. Andrew Cook and Prof. Peter Lee
Collaborators: SVD - EuReCCA collaborative  - Mr Adrian Crucean (Birmingham, UK); Prof Lucile Houyel (Paris); Prof Monique Jongbloed (Leiden, Netherlands)

Application deadline: 29 Feb 2024
Project start date: April/May 2024
Project duration: 3 years

Eligibility:  Open to UK students and international students
Studentship funding: Home tuition fees* (currently £5,860/year) + AFE + maintenance stipend (currently £20,622/year). Note international students will have to pay addtional fees*
Project location: UCL Zayed Centre for Research + UCL Bloomsbury campus

About ‘Single Ventricle Disease’

Congenital heart disease (CHD) affects nearly 1% of babies at birth and 11-13 million of the global population. It leads to over one quarter of a million premature deaths, each year. The severest form of CHD is Single Ventricle Disease (SVD), a heterogeneous group of heart abnormalities where macroscopic anatomy is well-described, but little is known about 3D deep-phenotype. 

About the research project

This project will utilise Synchrotron-based, Hierarchical Phase-Contrast Tomography (HiP-CT), a novel technology that is already proving to be transformative for interpreting human disease, to provide a 3D map of explanted SVD organs across ages and scales. The student will examine the anatomy of hearts with SVD using HiP-CT across the life-course of disease from fetal life through to adulthood. Using HiP-CT data, they will then explore 3D myocardial structure in depth, the coronary vasculature and conduction system. The overall aim is to improve understanding of the deep-phenotype of SVD and improve patient’s journeys with the disease. Because some forms of SVD are rare, the nature of the work is multi-centre and collaborative across the UK and Europe, and you will have access to some of the largest anatomic biobanks in the world (EuReCCA collaborative) and work with a multi-disciplinary group of engineers, and image analysts.

Person Specification

Applicants should have, or be expecting to achieve, a first or upper second-class Honours degree, MSc (or equivalent) in cardiovascular science, anatomy, biomedical science, or biomedical engineering.
The candidate must have a strong interest in cardiac anatomy and/or image analysis and be willing to learn about single ventricle disease. Handling and care of valuable anatomic specimens is a vital part of this research and the candidate must be willing to work in cardiac morphology labs in the UK and abroad. You must be enthusiastic to learn and work closely with our SVD team, as well as the wider multi-disciplinary group on HiPCT imaging and analysis, based at UCL Mech Eng (Prof Peter Lee)

Interested candidates should initially contact the supervisor, Prof. Andrew Cook (a.cook@ucl.ac.uk) with subject 'SVD - PhD' including a motivation letter expressing interest in this project and a CV. Informal inquiries are encouraged. 


This studentship is available to candidates who qualify for UK Home tuition fees: candidates from the UK or from the EU with settled or pre-settled status in the UK. EU and International students are also welcome to enquire and exceptional students may be considered, especially if they have partial funding through other scholarships. The updated rules for eligibility for home fees for next year are available on the UCL website.

Applicants whose first language is not English are required to meet our Institute's English language entry requirements. 


To apply, please send a current CV including the contact details of two potential academic referees as well as a cover letter to a.cook@ucl.ac.uk. Enquiries regarding the post can be made to Professor Andrew Cook (a.cook@ucl.ac.uk). 

Deadline for receipt of applications: 29 February 2024

Interview date: TBC

Why study this degree at UCL?

Outstanding research opportunities

University College London (UCL) offers unrivalled opportunities for PhD research in all aspects of Cardiovascular Biomedicine. The Institute of Cardiovascular Science was set up in 2011 and is a centre of excellence in preventative and therapeutic cardiovascular medicine. Our academic staff have international reputations and ICS provides a stimulating academic setting. Research labs are well-funded and equipped, so that PhD students have the best chance of getting off to a productive start straightaway. 

Pastoral care

Throughout the 3 years, all student's progress will be monitored and assessed by a committee responsible for the training provided. Students will be integrated into the community of cardiovascular researchers at UCL by participation in journal clubs, seminars and social events. Career advice will be given in the last year.

Cultural and social opportunities provided by London

UCL is located in Bloomsbury, close to the entertainment areas of the West End and South Bank which offer an enormous range of music, art, theatre and film, and a vast number of restaurants and bars. London is extremely socially diverse: most PhD students rapidly establish a thriving social life.