Improving liver cancer diagnoses through new MRI techniques

Elisabeth Pickles
Industrial Fellow 2019

Elisabeth Pickles 
Perspectum Diagnostics and the University of Oxford

Elisabeth is exploring the use of quantitative MRI techniques for the diagnosis and characterisation of liver tumours, and for assessing the effects of chemotherapy and other therapies as an alternative to qualitative contrast-enhanced MRI.

Imaging techniques have improved over the years but today’s systems are still challenged to make early detection and diagnosis and determine liver cancer’s response to therapy. Current qualitative black and white images rely on human subjectivity, with an average of 30% of image evaluations disputed between doctors.

Perspectum Diagnostics currently applies quantitative MRI techniques to monitor diseases such as Hepatitis and obesity, which produce fatty liver deposits. Elisabeth is keen to apply the technique to cancer diagnoses as well, as in addition to the benefits of increased objectivity and speed, these techniques also provide a less unpleasant experience for patients, as they do not use potentially harmful contrast agents.

“I would recommend the Industrial Fellowship programme to anyone who would like to do a PhD but also enjoys working in the industrial sector,” says Elisabeth. “The programme offers great support from within its community as well.”

Elisabeth was inspired to embark on her project as a way to combine her interest in mathematics with medicine. She obtained a BSc in Mathematics and Physics with the Open University, whilst working in roles at Oxford University Hospitals and the University of Oxford. Following graduation with First Class Honours in July 2018, she joined Perspectum Diagnostics in Oxford as a Clinical Data Analyst, where under the Industrial Fellowship programme she can examine the application of quantitative imaging technique in more detail, and under a greater number of clinical scenarios.