Research Supervisor Connect

Brain Structural Connectomics and Tractographic Performance in Ultra-High Resolution Diffusion Imaging


Sydney Translational Imaging Laboratory (STIL) have an opportunity for a PhD student to investigate the structure of the brain's white matter fibres at a previously unseen level of detail. The project's aims are to:
•Learn how recent improvements in MRI acquisition capability (particularly multi-shell and multi-band, high angular resolution diffusion imaging) translate to performance of diffusion tractography algorithms.
•Understand how they might enable a future role of imaging in a personalised clinical approach.
•Test how ultra-high angular resolution diffusion imaging improves connectomic-style analyses, and the potential impact on the study of health and disease.
•Design improved diffusion imaging protocols.
•Further develop our existing automated software pipelines to manage the import and processing of imaging data on a massive scale.
•Investigate the reliability of these methods over time and across sites.
What are the limiting factors for diffusion imaging and accuracy of tractography and how can they be overcome? What are the practical and effective upper bounds to current protocols? The student will test these aims in our ultra-high resolution diffusion MRI data.
Our imaging database currently has 2000+ datasets, and is expected to grow to over 3000 in the coming years. The group is based in the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, Australia. Our other topics of research include imaging of: mTBI, depression, chronic cardiovascular disease, 4D flow of the heart and motor neurone disease.
We have recently acquired the highest-ever resolution image of the brain, and are applying this methodology across a number of different large projects including our Chronic Diseases Connectome Project (CDCP) and our concussion "Brain Passport" project. These all involve application of ultra-high resolution diffusion MRI, meaning the translation of our developmental work is an ongoing, real-time process.
The prospective student should have experience in quantitative image analysis and good computer programming skills.


Professor Stuart Grieve.

Research location

Newtown - Heart Research Institute

Program type



This PhD project focusses on understanding limitations of and improving diffusion imaging and tractography using state-of-the-art MRI acquisition and analysis techniques, and applying this knowledge in large clinical cohorts

Additional information

Additional Supervisor: Dr Thomas Welton, Dr Sarah HellewellSee our recent publications on this topic: Callaghan F, Maller JJ, Welton T, Middione MJ, Shankaranarayanan A & Grieve SM, 2018. Toward personalised diffusion MRI in psychiatry: improved delineation of fibre bundles with the highest-ever angular resolution in vivo tractography. Nature Translational Psychiatry 8(91).Grieve SM & Maller JJ, 2017. High-resolution diffusion imaging: ready to become more than just a research tool in psychiatry? Nature Molecular Psychiatry 22:1082-1084.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2402

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