Master’s thesis opportunity

Master’s thesis: Quantitative MRI to investigate microstructural changes and perfusion impairments following traumatic and non-traumatic spinal cord injury

Applications are invited for a master’s thesis and also an internship in the Neuroimaging group at the Spinal Cord Injury lab Balgrist Clinic in Zurich under the direct supervision of Dr. Maryam Seif. The Neuroimaging group is a multidisciplinary team with physicians, physicists, engineers, and neuro/biologists and students are normally registered under the guidelines of the UZH policy or ETH.


Extensive upstream (e.g. remote) structural and blood perfusion changes of the spinal cord occur in the first months following spinal cord injury, with faster degenerative changes relating to poorer recovery. However, the spatial and temporal patterns of progression along the neuro-axis, and their relation to the clinical course of SCI are still uncertain. We utilize advanced quantitative MRI methods to better reveal the interaction between spinal cord and brain changes, to determine a more defined analysis of changes along the whole spinal cord, i.e. within but also below and above the cord lesion, and to characterize the spinal patterns of changes affecting the myelin and axonal architecture.

The specific aim of the project is to implement novel, cutting edge qMRI methods to assess microstructural changes and prefusion impairments above the lesion in traumatic SCI patients and above the compression in non-traumatic SCI patients.

The successful candidate will be:

a) incorporating novel and cutting-edge MR technologies to acquire new MR data
b) test and optimise the new developed methods and post-processing pipeline
c) be involved with the subject recruitment, data acquisition, and processing of the MRI data in acute traumatic spinal cord injury patients.

Person specification

  • Enrolment in master’s program in biomedical engineering, neuroscience, biology, psychology, biomedical science or an equivalent field
  • Familiar with MATLAB and statistics software
  • A strong interest in medical image processing and a desire to learn new fields
  • Strong desire to work with SCI patients
  • Strong analytical skills, preferably with some knowledge of statistics, neuroscience, and neurobiology
  • Good communication skills –fluent in German and a good English level especially in written
  • A strong work ethic, with the ability to think creatively and work independently

Application procedures

Please send your CV to Dr. Maryam Seif (maryam.seif[at]balgrist.ch). Candidates short- listed for interview will be invited for a visit at Balgrist campus. Please put “Balgrist MRI Studentship” in the subject line.