Impact of prenatal exposure to cancer treatment during pregnancy and of
chemotherapy for breast cancer on the brains: a multimodal MR imaging study'
Last modification : Monday, August 22, 2022
For the KU Leuven department of imaging and pathology, research group on
translational MRI, we are recruiting a PhD candidate fort his
multidisciplinary project. The UZ Leuven/KU Leuven research group on
translational MRI, headed by Prof. Stefan Sunaert, is world renowned for its
expertise in advanced MR brain imaging, using techniques such as diffusion
weighted and functional MRI. Next to this, the PhD candidate will be part of
the multidisciplinary UZ Leuven/KU Leuven research group on cancer in
pregnancy, led by Prof. Frédéric Amant. Prof. Amant and his group founded the
international network on cancer, infertility and pregnancy
(https:// www. cancerinpregnancy.org/). With their multicentric and
international approach, they aim to document the potential impact of cancer
treatment on the development of the child to better treat and inform pregnant
women with cancer.
The project consists of two parts.
In the first part of this project the PhD candidate will analyse data from a
longitudinal study where we followed 80 patients with breast cancer from
diagnosis until a year after treatment, using MRI of the brains,
neuropsychological testing and blood samples. After chemotherapy, many
patients experience cognitive complaints. Moreover, using MRI, we previously
showed that there are structural and functional changes in the brain. However,
the link between the cognitive complaints and the MRI results remains unclear.
Therefore, using a multimodal analysis, the PhD candidate will combine the
different data gathered to better characterise and predict the effects of
chemotherapy on the brain.
In the second part of this project the candidate will be responsible for the
MRI data collection and analysis of a multimodal MRI study where we are
investigating the brain development of children born after pregnancies
complicated by cancer. While so far, we only observed limited consequences of
cancer treatment during pregnancy on these children, specific types of
chemotherapy, as well as the psychosocial impact of cancer during pregnancy
and premature birth were indicated to have a potential large impact on the
development of these children. Therefore, the goal of this project is to
expand the current MR database and identify the impact of these different
factors on the brain development of these children.
Throughout the project the candidate will get acquainted with multiple
advanced MR imaging techniques such as diffusion-weighted and functional MRI,
as well as state-of-the-art image processing and statistical analysis
techniques such as machine learning.
You possess a master's degree in engineering, bioengineering, mathematics or
informatics with a strong interest towards clinical applications OR a master's
degree in biomedical sciences, medicine or psychology with a strong interest
in image processing techniques.
You have excellent knowledge of dutch and English, both written and spoken,
and a basic knowledge of French.
You have programming experience (Matlab, Python,Bash) OR are strongly
motivated to obtain these skills.
You can work both independent and in group and can take initiative.
You can create a comforting environment for children and their parents and
guide them in a kind way during MRI acquisition.
You are strongly motivated and have a keen interest in medical imaging.
Previous experience with medical image processing is an advantage.
We offer a fulltime PhD internship for the first year, which can be elongated
with minimally 3 years, with a wage according to KU Leuven barema 43. It Is
our goal that, at the end of the project, the candidate will obtain a PhD
You will be part of the research groups on translational MRI and on cancer in
pregnancy. You will work in a unique multidisciplinary environment with a team
of physicians, psychologists, engineers and physicists within the university
hospitals of Leuven.
For more information on the contents of the function, please contact:
· dr. Ir. Jeroen Blommaert (tel: 016/340408, mail:
· dr. Ir. Sabine Deprez (tel: 016/349027, email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
· Prof. dr. Stefan Sunaert (tel: 016/347754, email:
· Prof. dr. Frédéric Amant (tel: 016/342193, email:
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish,
regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If
you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us