PamiTC Job Board - Posting Details


PhD in Spatiotemporal Models of Retinal Images (for EU Residents)

Posted: April 7, 2014
Company/Institution: University College London
Location: United Kingdom

PhD in Spatiotemporal Models of Retinal Images
If you love applying machine learning and want to help save babies from going blind (and you are considered an EU-resident), please read on!
We have funding for an excellent student from the EU to complete a 3 year Computer Science PhD at University College London.
This PhD combines machine learning, computer vision, and ophthalmology. Applicants will develop skills and make contributions in all three areas, but should already be fairly strong and excited about one or two of them.
The project aims to help clinicians screen for Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), an illness that causes blindness in premature babies when undetected. Read more about ROP further below. Our goal is to develop a model of how the retina looks over time a) when an eye is healthy, b) as ROP progresses, and c) as a result of laser treatment. The probabilistic generative model for these cases will be learned from image data of real patients.
Subsequently at test time, given image(s) of a premature baby's retina, we will be able to assess the probability that the baby is healthy or at-risk. This research will be a form of structured texture-synthesis, with algorithms and applications beyond "just" medical images.
Retinpathy of Prematurity (ROP): ROP is one of the few ophthalmic conditions in which a diagnosis to treat or not is urgent. Screening is essential, but difficult. A simple retinal camera is needed, but also expertise and experience. Even in middle-income countries where a camera is available, there are often not enough qualified ROP experts to examine all the at-risk babies. In low-income countries there is currently a large proportion of premature infants facing a lifetime of blindness from untreated ROP due largely to a lack of screening facilities. Preliminary research has revealed further challenges. A fairly universal international grading system is used by experts to grade the severity of a case. However, research has shown that experts do not tend to agree on the grading for each eye because there is no agreed model of disease progression.
At UCL Computer Science, the PhD student will be based in Gabriel Brostow's group. The co-supervisor is Dr. Clare Wilson, Paediatric Ophthalmologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. The research areas overlap and the student is expected to work with other students and postdocs in our team ( and the larger cohort of vision + machine learning researchers here. UCL is in central London, and is one of the top 3 groups for Vision/Learning/Graphics in Europe. For ophthalmology expertise, this is THE place to be.
Programming experience desired: high proficiency in one or more of Matlab / C++ / Python. The PhD is a time to learn new things, but the idealized candidate would have completed small projects with some combination of machine learning, GPU, Qt, and OpenCV-type libraries. As an example reference guide, see the topics covered in the Prince textbook,

Application Instructions: You'll need to submit an online application here as soon as possible: (Deadlines listed there do not apply to funded studentships like this.) Please make sure to put Gabriel Brostow as the supervisor but you should also email me *now* (g.brostow at so we know to look out for your application (and please use the text "synthROP" in the Subject line).