PhD students on evolutionary algorithms, machine learning, and biomechanical modelling to innovate automated registration of medical images

CWI closely collaborates with the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam to work on innovations in the medical domain along the entire spectrum from algorithmic foundations to clinical integration. Currently, CWI and AMC have a joint project for which we seek multiple talented PhD students to work on novel combinations of multi-objective evolutionary algorithms, machine learning, and biomechanical modelling for deformable image registration.

Job description

CWI closely collaborates with the Academic Medical Center (AMC) in Amsterdam to work on innovations in the medical domain along the entire spectrum from algorithmic foundations to clinical integration. Currently, CWI and AMC have a joint project for which we seek multiple talented PhD students to work on novel combinations of multi-objective evolutionary algorithms, machine learning, and biomechanical modelling for deformable image registration.

Deformable image registration is the process of aligning two images by determining the transformation that maps points in one image to their corresponding points in the other image. Deformable image registration has potentially huge added value to many applications in healthcare since images form a cornerstone for many diagnoses, treatments, and follow-up in modern medicine. Key reasons why clinical implementation has proven to be extremely challenging are lack of robustness, limited success for registration problems involving large deformations or content mismatches, and a lack of insightful tuning possibilities.

In this project, we aim to go beyond the proof-of-concept stage of a novel, multi-objective, approach to deformable image registration for which a pilot implementation was previously made by the Academic Medical Center (AMC) and Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI; the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science). We will focus on the utilization of this approach within a key medical area that stands to benefit from accurate deformable image registration: radiation therapy. With this project we wish to truly bridge the gap between theoretically powerful deformable image registration software and real-world practically (i.e., clinically) useful software tools to realize the true potential of deformable image registration for radiation therapy and ultimately improve the treatment (i.e., make radiation therapy more effective thereby reducing mortality rate and adverse side effects). We aim to arrive at a stage of development where commercial parties will be interested to integrate our technology within their software.

We currently specifically seek candidates for three intertwined subprojects:

  1. Building an evolutionary multi-objective optimization engine that is especially well-suited for deformable image registration, based on a state-of-the-art evolutionary algorithms research line of CWI (the GOMEA research line).
  2. Building biomechanical deformation models that
    1. can cope with large deformations (including e.g., sliding tissues) and content mismatches, and
    2. can be efficiently optimized over by the evolutionary algorithms, and
    3. can be instantiated by machine-learning techniques.
  3. Development and validation of the use of machine learning (e.g., deep learning) to distinguish tissue types and automatically identify landmarks to enrich deformation models.

This project will ultimately consist of four full-time research positions and a part-time radiation therapy technologist position. The fourth full-time researcher will be added to the team after one year.

These positions are available within the project titled “Multi-Objective Deformable Image Registration (MODIR) – An Innovative Synergy of Multi-Objective Optimization, Machine Learning, and Biomechanical Modeling for the Registration of Medical Images with Content Mismatch and Large Deformations”. This project is funded within the Open Technology Programme (OTP) of the Dutch Organization for Scientific Research NWO Domain Applied and Technical Sciences (TTW, formerly Technology Foundation STW) with industrial partners Elekta and Xomnia. The academic and company partners involved in this project represent a core of excellence in image-guided radiation treatment, evolutionary computation, and applied machine learning.

Depending on the subproject, the appointment will be at CWI or at the AMC. Decisions about institute of employment will depend entirely on the match between e.g., candidates and topics. Candidates are expected to spend at least one day per week at the other institute.

Requirements

Candidates are required to have an M.Sc. degree in computer science, artificial intelligence, mathematics, physics, or similar areas with relevant experience. If you are obtaining your M.Sc. degree before the end of 2018, you are also invited to respond. 

Applicants are required to have substantial programming skills, including excellent knowledge of C, C++, or Java (with strong C/C++ experience highly desired). Applicants are further expected to have an excellent command of English.

It is essential that you have a clear interest in working both on fundamental research as well as on applying this research, in collaboration with academic partners and company partners. We expect a flexible, can-do mentality and attitude with a willingness to cooperate with experts across different disciplines (including computer science, physics, and medicine).

Terms and conditions Ph.D. Student

The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labor Agreement for Research Centers ("CAO-onderzoeksinstellingen"). The initial labor agreement will be for a period of 18 months. After a positive evaluation, the agreement will be extended by 30 months. The gross monthly salary for a Ph.D. student on a full-time basis is €2,291 during the first year and increases to €2,937 over the four years period. Employees are also entitled to a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.33%. CWI offers attractive working conditions, including flexible scheduling and help with housing for expat employees. 

Please visit our website for more information about our terms of employment:

www.cwi.nl/terms-of-employment

Note: In case of appointment at AMC, the terms of employment are in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for University Medical Centers in the Netherlands (CAO-UMC).

Application

Applications can be sent until and including Monday, May 15, 2018. Applications must be sent by e-mail to apply@cwi.nl and must include:

  • A detailed CV.
  • A letter of motivation including research interests and reasons for applying.
  • B.Sc. and M.Sc. level certificates
  • Lists of courses followed (at B.Sc. and M.Sc. level) including obtained grades.

The starting date is flexible, from July 1, 2018 onward 

For non-native English speakers, a TOEFL English language test might be required.

For more information about the vacancy, please contact Peter A.N. Bosman, peter.bosman@cwi.nl

For more information about CWI, please visit www.cwi.nl or watch our video “A Fundamental Difference” about working at CWI.

About Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science and is part of the Institutes Organisation of NWO. The mission of CWI is to conduct pioneering research in mathematics and computer science, generating new knowledge in these fields and conveying it to trade, industry, and society at large.

CWI is an internationally oriented institute, with 160 scientists from approximately 27 countries. The facilities are first-rate and include excellent IT support, career planning, training, and courses.

CWI is located at Science Park Amsterdam that is presently developing into a major location of research in the natural sciences in The Netherlands, housing the sciences of the University of Amsterdam and of the Vrije Universiteit as well as several other national research institutes next to CWI.

Research group

For more information about the research of the Life Sciences and Health group at CWI, please visit our website http://www.cwi.nl/research/groups/life-sciences-and-health and watch our video.