Seismology of the brain

Cerebral microvessels are crucial for brain health. Disturbances of these vessels, known as small vessel disease (SVD) alter the brain’s blood supply, waste clearance and microstructure (biomechanical tissue properties). SVD causes 25% of all cerebral strokes and is a major cause of cognitive decline, dementia and functional disability. Unfortunately, the microvasculature's small dimensions strongly limit our abilities to non-invasively probe its structure and function, hampering early disease detection, disease-mechanism studies and targeted treatment.

Inspired by seismology, this project aims to develop a new approach in which natural brain pulsations are used as a quantitative probe for microvascular physiology and biomechanical tissue properties. These pulsations will be measured with newly developed, advanced 7T MRI techniques. Next, these 7T MRI measurements will be coupled to advanced computational models that tie observable tissue pulsations to microvascular and biomechanical parameters of interest, including: microvascular blood volume pulsations, tissue stiffness and interstitial pressure fields driving brain waste clearance. By integrating computational models and MRI measurements, this project will deliver tools that can assess these microvascular and biomechanical parameters, which cannot be obtained from either MRI or modeling alone.

Postdoc 7Tesla MRI

Vacancy number: 2021/0998
Apply to: July 7 2021
Education: University
Employment: Temporary position
Full-time/Part-time: 36 - 36 hours

Project description

We recently developed ultrahigh-field (7T) MRI methods that measure the subtle heartbeat-induced pulsations in brain tissue motion and deformation. Your role in this project will be to develop MRI methods that specifically target brain fluid flow and motion. Depending on your experience, you will also co-supervise a PhD student who will develop and implement new 7T MRI methods, targeting lower physiological frequencies of tissue motion, as induced by respiration and vasomotion. Besides, you will validate these methods on a preclinical 7T MRI scanner. Validation will be performed by building advanced pulsatile phantoms using 3D (bio)printing technology, and by performing experiments in animal models (rodents).


You will be working at the internationally renowned Center for Image Sciences at the UMC Utrecht, which is housed within the Imaging Division of the UMC Utrecht, enabling close collaboration between image scientists and radiologists. You will work in a team of PhD students and postdocs in the field of ultra-high-field strength (7 Tesla) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).


You are an excellent candidate with a PhD in (bio-)physics, biomedical engineering, image sciences or a similar field, and with proven knowledge of magnetic resonance imaging methods. You have a good scientific background, are highly motivated and independent, and able to work in an interdisciplinary team of engineers and medical doctors. Programing experience is required, and experience with animal research is an advantage.

The maximum salary for this position (36 - 36 hours) is € 5.383,00 gross per month based on full-time employment.

In addition, we offer an annual benefit of 8.3%, holiday allowance, travel expenses and career opportunities. The terms of employment are in accordance with the Cao University Medical Centers (UMC).

More information

If you have any questions about this vacancy, please contact Jaco Zwanenburg, Associate professor, phone number: +31887551394, e‑mail adress: J.J.M.Zwanenburg à