Precision Imaging Beacon
David Cohen is a PhD student working in the Precision Imaging Beacon. His project focuses on imaging inflammation in implanted biomaterials.
How would you explain your research?
My research is primarily focused on MRI of inflammation in implanted biomaterials via the development of pre-clinical contrast agents specifically designed to image inflammation via MRI. This can simply be described as “real time histology”.Ultimately, the core aim is to utilise this imaging toolkit to inform design of medical device implants. Approaches involve targeted MRI of macrophage infiltration, utilising an array of novel molecular contrast agents.
Why Nottingham and why the Precision Imaging Beacon?
Nottingham is at the cutting edge of imaging research. Having completed my undergraduate studies at Nottingham, I had good exposure to the work being carried out in the Precision Imaging Beacon. The most exciting part about working in the Precision Imaging Beacon, is the opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary environment. Colleagues come from such a wide range of backgrounds, which has given me exposure to areas of research I otherwise wouldn’t have.
Ultimately, the core aim [of my research] is to utilise this imaging toolkit to inform design of medical device implants.
How will your research affect the average person?
Inflammation is a ubiquitous hallmark of human disease. Understanding of inflammatory processes has, for the most part, been limited to histological based findings. Histology, whilst providing excellent resolution, is tissue destructive and only conveys a snapshot of what is going on. Developing MRI based approaches will allow for a deeper insight into inflammatory processes in real time. Generation of bespoke contrast agent toolkits has applications beyond that of my own research, including monitoring inflammation following allograft.
What’s been the greatest moment of your career so far?
In 2019, I entered the Telegraph STEM awards, healthcare challenge. The challenge was to put forward a concept, which encompasses the use of innovative science and technology to treat disease. Having studied glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) as part of my 4th year research project, I became particularly interested novel immune therapy approaches. GBM is a devastating disease with poor prognosis, despite therapy. This further motivated me to investigate potential avenues for treatment. I put forward a concept therapeutic approach for the treatment of immunologically “cold” tumours, including GBM. This involved CRISPR Cas9 mediated engineering of human B-cells to express bispecific T-cell engagers, targeted to unique tumour surface proteins. I was fortunate to have made it to the semi-final of the 2020 Telegraph STEM awards. It was a really exciting opportunity and influenced me to pursue further opportunities in research.
How will being based at UoN and joining Precision Imaging help you achieve your goals?
The ability to work alongside and collaborate with such a wide range of world leading experts is really exciting. I really value being able to draw from the experience of others. Sometimes the best ideas stem from working with those with a unique perspective. The Precision Imaging Beacon creates a unique environment where you are surrounded by those with unique perspectives. This fosters innovative science.
What aspects of your research and role are you looking forward to?
UoN has provided me with exceptional training opportunities. I am really looking forward to getting hands on imaging experience. I am also excited to see research translate into clinical applications.