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AI-based diagnosis and AR-based rehabilitation of Covid-19

Applications are invited for 1 funded PhD studentship in the new Institute of Digital Futures starting 1st October 2020. Successful applicants will receive an annual stipend (bursary) of £17,285 plus payment of their full-time home tuition fees for a period of 36 months (3 years).  Applicants must be eligible for home tuition fees either through nationality, residency (living in the UK for at least three years and not wholly for educational purposes) or other connection to the UK. 

This exciting multidisciplinary research project, led by Professor Abdul Sadka, will research low-level image analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) for the automatic and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19 featuring in X-Radiography of the respiratory system. The derived features will be used to interpret X-ray and automatically identify COVID-19 cases from other types of upper respiratory tract infections such as sore throat, and lower respiratory tract infections such as asthma and lung cancer etc., making it an adaptive feature-based disease identification and classification solution.


In the second phase of this doctoral project, the AI-driven diagnosis of X-ray features of lung infections will be combined with the functional and physiological biomarkers of respiratory function, in order to define more accurately the disease severity level and tailor a specific therapeutic programme for individual patients. Augmented reality (AR) combined with deep neural network-based tracking of respiratory behaviour will allow the design of a tailored respiratory biofeedback rehabilitation programme. By investigating the integration between physiological and AI-driven diagnostics, this project will pave the way towards improving the therapeutic programme of COVID-19 cases.

Please, contact us for an informal discussion about the studentship:


Applicants will have or be expected to receive a first or upper-second class honours undergraduate degree in Engineering, Computer Science, Design, Mathematics, Physics or similar discipline. A postgraduate (Masters) degree is not required but may be an advantage. You must be eligible for home tuition fees either through nationality, residency (living in the UK for at least three years and not wholly for educational purposes) or other connection to the UK. 

Applicants will be required to demonstrate programming aptitude and their ability to undertake Modelling & Simulation under various experimental conditions and in diverse settings.  In addition, he/she should be highly motivated, have research project experience and have the desire to work in an inter-disciplinary team, transcending traditional engineering and clinical boundaries to develop novel and impactful methods for addressing critical public global health issues.

How to apply

Please submit the documents listed below to cedps-pgr-office@brunel.ac.uk by Thursday 1 October 2020. Interviews will take place in October 2020. 

  • Your up-to-date CV;
  • Your personal statement (300 to 500 words) summarising your background, skills and experience;
  • Your Undergraduate/Postgraduate degree certificate(s) and transcript(s);
  • Evidence of your English language skills to IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent, 6.0 in all sections), if appropriate;
  • Contact details for TWO referees, one of which can be an academic member of staff in the College.

Note: Please remember to state the title of the project at the top of your personal statement.

Meet the Supervisor for this Studentship

Professor Abdul Sadka - Professor Sadka has been an internationally recognised figure in Visual Media Processing and Communications for over 25 years, pioneering error resilient video communications and 2D/3D visual media processing. He is the Director of the Institute of Digital Futures, the former Head of the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering at Brunel University London (2006-2012) and the Head of the Media Communication Research Group. He has 200+ refereed publications, 3 patents and his textbook "Compressed Video Communications", published by Wiley in 2002, is widely acknowledged as a seminal book in error resilient video coding & transcoding. He has attracted over £12m worth of research funding to major projects and supervised over 50 PhD students and Research Assistants to successful completion. He frequently serves on influential advisory boards, evaluation panels and international committees, and provides consultancy as well as expert witness services to international Law firms in the area of Video Compression and 2D/3D Visual Media Systems. He has an industry-acclaimed track record of business engagement into academia through a variety of modes and instruments. His business engagement profile has earned him the only academic seat on the Steering Board of the NEM (New European Media) European Technology Platform (2011-14). He is broadly connected in the Telecom and ICT industries and has several entrepreneurial business engagements. He is a Chartered Engineer (CEng), Fellow of HEA, Fellow of IET and Fellow of BCS.

Meet the Supervisor for this Studentship

Dr Marco Davare - I obtained a PhD in Neurosciences at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium) in 2008. I then joined the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology at University College London as a Wellcome Trust post-doctoral fellow. In 2012, I was awarded a BBSRC David Phillips fellowship to build my own lab and develop my research projects as principal investigator within the Institute of Neurology at UCL. I then moved to KU Leuven (Belgium) as Associate Professor, funded by an FWO Odysseus programme. In 2019, I returned to the UK and joined Brunel University London. My current research interests lie at the interface between movement and cognitive neuroscience. I study multisensory integration mechanisms underlying the control of skilled hand movements in humans as a window to find out how the brain controls our actions and generates perceptual representations of our environment. In our daily life, we use our hands to grasp and manipulate hundreds of objects and tools with an apparently effortless grace, which contrasts with the complexity of the hand neurophysiology. This paradox inspired my current interest in how the brain controls hand movements and led me to begin a PhD in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology, School of Medicine, Université catholique de Louvain, in 2002. The main focus of my PhD consisted in using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate the role of brain areas involved in reaching and grasping movements. After completing my PhD in 2008, I joined the Sobell Department of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders (University College London) as a Wellcome Trust post-doctoral fellow in Prof. Roger Lemon’s lab. There, the exposure to single unit studies of premotor-motor interactions during hand grip in non-human primates led me to pioneer new TMS methods to investigate cortico-cortical connectivity during hand actions. Using this new TMS technique, I was able to demonstrate for the first time causal interactions between three key brain areas part of the cortical grasping circuit. That work led me to receive the Magstim Young Investigator Award. Recently, I developed a novel virtual reality environment in which vision and haptics (active touch through force-feedback robots) are controlled independently. The aim of this project is to provide a better understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying multisensory integration for skilled actions. This line of research was funded by a BBSRC David Phillips fellowship at UCL, a responsive-mode BBSRC project grant at UCL and an Odysseus project grant at KU Leuven, for a total of £2.5M as principal investigator (GtR UKRI).

Meet the Supervisor for this Studentship

Professor Dido Green - Dido Green has over 25 years clinical and research experience as an Occupational Therapist, specializing in paediatric neurodisability at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospitals in London UK.  She received her Masters in Clinical Neuroscience from the University of Surrey and PhD from the University of Leeds with post-doctoral work in translational medicine at Kings College London. Dido joined the Occupational Therapy Department at Tel Aviv University in 2009. She was promoted to Reader in Rehabilitation at Oxford Brookes University in 2012, moving to Sweden as Associate Professor at Jönköping University in 2017 and appointed Full Professor in 2019.  Dido joined Brunel University London in September 2019. Academic and teaching areas encourage students’ scientific enquiry of the transactional influences on occupational performance; aiming to develop students’ clinical reasoning and therapeutic skills.  Research interests take an ecological approach to understanding challenges to participation for children and young people. Extensive international collaborations and grant funding have enabled research into the neuroplasticity of sensory-motor learning and behavior and virtual reality in rehabilitation. Current research explores psychosocial development in childhood disability and influences on participation. Publications include seminal papers on neuroplasticity of motor skill acquisition and treatment response of children with hemiplegia, movement behaviour in childhood disability and occupational therapy interventions for motor impairments. She has received over £7 million in grant funding. Dido is Associate Editor of Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology as well as serving on many scientific committees.