Tools for live-cell imaging in the millisecond regime using Electrically Tunable Lenses

Dr. Viji M Draviam, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London.
Dr. Sam Swift, IMSOL
EARLY START DATE! Join this project from April 2020

project details

A fully funded PhD studentship is available for working with cutting-edge technologies in the field of Machine Learning (Computer Vision) and Cell Biology. Computer Science students will be provided Cell Biology training and Biology students will be provided training in relevant Computational methods.

Investigation of highly dynamic biological processes like cell division requires high-speed imaging techniques. Conventional microscope systems for live-imaging in 3D are restricted in their spatial-temporal resolution. Therefore, the Draviam group at QMUL will use a highly innovative Electrically Tunable Lens technology that allows precise high-throughput image acquisition in the millisecond regime in 3D. The large volume of live-cell movie data generated through such microscopes offers a unique opportunity for the student to use and develop Machine Learning tools for analysing the images of cancer cells. He/she will work closely with optical engineers, Computer Scientists, Statisticians and Biologists within a highly interdisciplinary and collaborative research environment. As a LIDo-interdisciplinary and iCASE PhD student, you will be assigned to SysMIC courses at UCL and be part of the LIDo networking consortium.

This project will be completed in close collaboration with an industrial partner IMSOL, who have over 25 years extensive experience in developing bespoke imaging solutions for live-cell microscopy. At IMSOL, the student will acquire skills to exploit point-spread functions, deconvolution algorithms and microscope control software. A dedicated microscope platform will be provided for generating the metadata and implementing software tools. You will receive additional funding for presenting your work at international conferences. Researchers from the Draviam group have gone ahead to set up their own start-up company or research group; others are employed in either academic or biopharmaceutical research sectors.

eligibility and application

Applicants must hold, or be expected to achieve, a first or high upper second-class undergraduate honours degree or equivalent (for example BA, BSc, MSci) or a Masters degree in a relevant subject. This project is funded by a 4-year BBSRC studentship, applicants should ensure they have understood the funding eligibility criteria for these studentships. Unfortunately international students are not eligible for programme funding on this project.


Ideally, the PhD student has a background in Physics, Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics or related fields. Being able to write software codes (For example, in the C++, Matlab or Python languages) is essential. An interest in Cell Biology and Optics is crucial. Training will be provided for learning cell culture and microscopy techniques.


For more information regarding the project, please contact Dr. Viji M Draviam


Your application and supporting documents should be sent in a single email to LIDo.Admissions@ucl.ac.uk When applying for iCASE projects the applicant should also include the iCASE Selection Form.


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