Non-invasive optical imaging is reckoned as a powerful technique with plethora of applications in biomedical research. Achieving deep photon penetration while maintaining high resolution is one of the main objectives and challenges in bioimaging used for the investigation of diverse processes in living organisms. The shortwave infrared (SWIR) region, called also NIR II, between 850 and 1700 nm has very recently shown to be a promising optical spectral window to reach high spatial and temporal resolution in small animals. However, there is still a lack of suitable reporters and contrast agents with optimal optical properties in this spectral window that could be used safely in vivo.
In the SIREN project funded by ANR/DFG (France/Germany), we aim to rationally design new SWIR contrast agents spectroscopically studied in different environment in solution and in artificial models mimicking tissues. The selection of the best performing and safe candidates will be evaluated in terms of spatial resolution and signal-to-noise ratio at various depths first in tissue-mimicking phantoms and then in mice using SWIR photoluminescence imaging (PLI), an advanced non-invasive optical imaging modality. This will allow the real time non-invasive visualization in living animals with high resolution at different scales.
The biological investigation will focus on vascular network imaging in animal models to extract highly detailed information on the blood and lymphatic networks structure, vessels permeability and on fluid motions. The use of the SWIR window together with the probes assessed in this project and the tools for data analysis will pave the road: i) to expand the applications of NIR imaging from its current stage of preclinical anatomical and molecular imaging in experimental animal models, and ii) to increase its clinical translatability and applicability for intraoperative theranostic purpose.
This project will run at the Institute for Advanced Biosciences (CNRS/INSERM/University of Grenoble) and in collaboration with a spectroscopist team in Berlin (Dr. Ute Resch-Genger).
During this PhD, the candidate will first design and characterize new atomically precise noble metal (gold, silver) nanoclusters (NCs) with controlled surface organization and explore new strategies to boost the brightness of NCs and shift their absorption and PL to longer wavelengths. The high potential of these nanoprobes for SWIR bioimaging was demonstrated recently by our team (Nanoscale 2019, 11, 12092; ACS Nano 2020, 14, 4973). Then he will evaluate the potential of the SWIR contrast agents for SWIR PLI in terms of spectral window and spatial and temporal resolution to achieve very sensitive measurements in real time in artificial and mouse models. Finally, the best SWIR emitters will be investigated for bioimaging applications such as blood and lymphatic vascularization in mice.
Duration: 3 years Starting date: January/February 2021 Location: Grenoble, France
Dr Xavier Le Guével from the Institute of Advanced Biosciences (https://iab.univ-grenoble-alpes.fr/)
Applicants should hold a Master of Sciences in Chemistry, Physics or Biotechnology Sciences with some knowledges in material chemistry, optics and bioimaging. He/she should have a strong interest in working in a cross-disciplinary environment at chemistry-biology interface with biologists and chemists. Good english level is required. As the PhD belongs to an international call with a team in Germany, 3 months stays are scheduled in Berlin within the 3 years project. This project includes small animal handling that are mastered by the team.
Candidates should send a Cover Letter, a CV, recommendation letters, and grade transcripts, only by email to email@example.com.
Deadline: December 15th 2020
An interview should be organized in December 2020 for this PhD position.
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