Impact of prenatal exposure to cancer treatment during pregnancy and of chemotherapy for breast cancer on the brains: a multimodal MR imaging study’

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
October 22, 2022
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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Impact of prenatal exposure to cancer treatment during pregnancy and of

chemotherapy for breast cancer on the brains: a multimodal MR imaging study'

(ref. BAP-2022-638)

Last modification : Monday, August 22, 2022

For the KU Leuven department of imaging and pathology, research group on translational MRI, we are recruiting a PhD candidate fort his multidisciplinary project. The UZ Leuven/KU Leuven research group on translational MRI, headed by Prof. Stefan Sunaert, is world renowned for its expertise in advanced MR brain imaging, using techniques such as diffusion weighted and functional MRI. Next to this, the PhD candidate will be part of the multidisciplinary UZ Leuven/KU Leuven research group on cancer in pregnancy, led by Prof. Frédéric Amant. Prof. Amant and his group founded the international network on cancer, infertility and pregnancy (https:// www. With their multicentric and international approach, they aim to document the potential impact of cancer treatment on the development of the child to better treat and inform pregnant women with cancer.


The project consists of two parts.

In the first part of this project the PhD candidate will analyse data from a longitudinal study where we followed 80 patients with breast cancer from diagnosis until a year after treatment, using MRI of the brains, neuropsychological testing and blood samples. After chemotherapy, many patients experience cognitive complaints. Moreover, using MRI, we previously showed that there are structural and functional changes in the brain. However, the link between the cognitive complaints and the MRI results remains unclear. Therefore, using a multimodal analysis, the PhD candidate will combine the different data gathered to better characterise and predict the effects of chemotherapy on the brain.

In the second part of this project the candidate will be responsible for the MRI data collection and analysis of a multimodal MRI study where we are investigating the brain development of children born after pregnancies complicated by cancer. While so far, we only observed limited consequences of cancer treatment during pregnancy on these children, specific types of chemotherapy, as well as the psychosocial impact of cancer during pregnancy and premature birth were indicated to have a potential large impact on the development of these children. Therefore, the goal of this project is to expand the current MR database and identify the impact of these different factors on the brain development of these children.

Throughout the project the candidate will get acquainted with multiple advanced MR imaging techniques such as diffusion-weighted and functional MRI, as well as state-of-the-art image processing and statistical analysis techniques such as machine learning.


You possess a master's degree in engineering, bioengineering, mathematics or informatics with a strong interest towards clinical applications OR a master's degree in biomedical sciences, medicine or psychology with a strong interest in image processing techniques.

You have excellent knowledge of dutch and English, both written and spoken, and a basic knowledge of French.

You have programming experience (Matlab, Python,Bash) OR are strongly motivated to obtain these skills.

You can work both independent and in group and can take initiative.

You can create a comforting environment for children and their parents and guide them in a kind way during MRI acquisition.

You are strongly motivated and have a keen interest in medical imaging. Previous experience with medical image processing is an advantage.


We offer a fulltime PhD internship for the first year, which can be elongated with minimally 3 years, with a wage according to KU Leuven barema 43. It Is our goal that, at the end of the project, the candidate will obtain a PhD degree.

You will be part of the research groups on translational MRI and on cancer in pregnancy. You will work in a unique multidisciplinary environment with a team of physicians, psychologists, engineers and physicists within the university hospitals of Leuven.


For more information on the contents of the function, please contact:

· dr. Ir. Jeroen Blommaert (tel: 016/340408, mail:

· dr. Ir. Sabine Deprez (tel: 016/349027, email:

· Prof. dr. Stefan Sunaert (tel: 016/347754, email:

· Prof. dr. Frédéric Amant (tel: 016/342193, email:

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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