UCL EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Integrated Imaging in Healthcare


Now Closed: Safe Surgery – Image-Guided Gallbladder Surgery (23029)

4-year PhD studentship : Safe Surgery – Image-Guided Gallbladder Surgery


11 July 2023

Primary Supervisor: Professor Matt Clarkson

Secondary Supervisor : Professor Brian Davidson  

We seek an outstanding early career scientist or clinician scientist to be appointed to a 4-year PhD studentship to develop novel engineering solutions for the purpose of image-guided gallbladder surgery. This studentship is Co-funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)  and the EPSRC i4health CDT.

The studentship is supported by the NIHR “Central London Patient Safety Research Collaboration”. The successful candidate will be registered for their PhD at University College London (UCL), in the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering in collaboration with the Division of Surgery and Interventional Science.

The SmartLiver programme has previously developed a system for image-guided surgery using augmented reality. This paper describes the concepts (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.media.2017.01.007), and this paper describes some recent research by our group /(https://doi.org/10.1007s11548-021-02518-7), which is applied to laparoscopic liver surgery.

We now wish to extend this work to gallbladder surgery.

Gallstone disease is one of the most common surgical problems worldwide and can cause a variety of different complications varying from biliary colic to life-threatening conditions such as ascending cholangitis and pancreatitis. Symptomatic gallstones are a common indication for surgery. Magnetic Resonance Cholangiopancretography (MRCP) is a non-invasive imaging test that is used to detect biliary obstruction and has been recommended as a good way of detecting common bile duct stones. However, during surgery for removing gallbladder (cholecystectomy), it is difficult to identify biliary anatomy, and errors can occure with dire consequences. You will work on developing an image-guidance system for laparoscopic cholecystectomy (key-hole removal of gallbladder) and develop methods to overlay pre-operative MRCP scans on live laparoscopic video images. This may include investigations such as:

  • Image processing of MRCP scans and image-alignment with other pre-operative imaging
  • Real-time identification of biliary anatomy from laparoscopic video
  • Reconstruction of internal anatomy from laparoscopic video or ultrasound
  • Alignment of pre-operative data to intra-operative imaging
  • Provision of quantifiable metrics to aid during surgery, e.g. depth to target

This project will be run within a wider programme of work, and the overall aim is to improve patient safety.

About Us:

For further information, please follow these links:

About you:

We are looking for a candidate with a strong engineering background, with an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering or related subject or industrial experience. The candidate must be able to work independently, have a strong problem solving mentality and a keen interest in developing healthcare solutions. The role will involve programming using languages such as Python / C++, frameworks such as Unity / PyTorch and require strong mathematical skills.

Your experience may include topics such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Computer Assisted Surgery, Computer Vision or Biomechanical Modelling.

However, if you are interested in applying for this role, but do not know if you are suitable, please ask Prof. Matt Clarkson (m.clarkson@ucl.ac.uk), or Dr. Joao Ramalhinho (joao.ramalhinho.15@ucl.ac.uk).

What we offer:

You will receive a starting stipend of £20,198 per annum as well as the cost of tuition fees for UK students. The stipends awarded to PhD students are tax free and incur no income tax or national insurance contributions. The amount received increases each year over the duration.A full studentship is available for home fee payers only. UCL’s fee eligibility criteria can a be found by following this link.

PhD Supervision will be provided by Prof. Matt Clarkson in the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering and Prof. Brian Davidson in the Division of Surgery and Interventional Science.

You will also be registered with the Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent, Integrated, Imaging in Healthcare (i4Health), and thereby join a cohort of students, with similar projects, and benefit from the activities and events organised by the centre.

We are well supported with state of the art facilities at the Wellcome / EPSRC Centre for Interventional and Surgical Sciences (WEISS), based at Charles Bell House, which includes a mock operating room, Computed Tomography (CT) scanner, various ultrasound machines and navigation tools. We have access to GPU compute resources within the department of Computer Science.

Application Deadline: Wednesday 26th July.

How to Apply


Application Process:

  • After the deadline, all applicants that specified Project 23029 and with a Portico application will be considered for interview.
  • Candidates will normally be invited for interview within two-weeks of the deadline. If you have not been contacted within this time-period, you have unfortunately not been successful in being shortlisted.
  • The interview panel will normally consist of the supervision team on the project and the CDT Director.
  • The interview will normally consist of a short presentation (5-10mins) by the candidate followed by questions from a panel.
  • The successful candidate will be informed by email and given a week to confirm whether they wish to accept the PhD place and funding.
  • Note that applications without specifying the project they are applying for and/or making a formal Portico application will be automatically rejected.
  • Once accepted, a formal UCL offer of admission will be sent to the applicant as well as an offer of studentship funding.