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Patient inside an MRI scanner with their hands behind their head
Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Research at CISC


The Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre is a cross-disciplinary centre drawing together a dynamic range of researchers from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and the Schools of Psychology, Life Sciences, and Informatics at the University of Sussex.

Outlined below are our key research areas and associated faculty.

External links

Research Facilities

CISC is equipped with 2 Siemens MRI scanners, a PET/CT scanner as well as a state-of-the-art low Field MRI scanner. Our state-of-the-art Siemens Prisma 3T MRI research scanner is further equipped with state-of-the-art ancillary equipment for fMRI research including the latest equipment for visual stimulus, active noise cancelling communications system, pain stimulus and physiological monitoring. 

Explore our research and facilities >

Researchers in discussion over a patient about to go into an MRI scanner

MRI Technique Development

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become one of the most common methods of imaging the brain. This is mainly due to the exquisite contrast it provides without the use of radiation between different tissue compartments, such as white and grey matter, as well as between healthy and pathological tissue.

Another characteristic of MRI is the possibility of manipulating nuclear spins in order to produce a large number of different image contrasts. This property not only allows the collection of several different qualitative images of the brain, but also constitutes the basis for quantitative MRI.

Quantitative MRI uses the scanner as a measurement tool to identify subtle in vivo changes that are often invisible to conventional MRI approaches. Many quantities that we would like to measure are not readily available on the scanner and need to be developed, optimised and tested for accuracy and reproducibility using healthy human volunteers and phantoms (test objects). A substantial number of the projects at CISC now use quantitative MRI techniques that have been optimised at CISC, such as quantitative magnetisation transfer, diffusion tensor imaging, T1 mapping and arterial spin labelling.

Typically, quantitative MRI techniques fit a model of the dependence of the MR signal on a physical process to a number of MRI measurements obtained at different settings of the acquisition pulse sequence, which is sensitised to the physical process of interest. Different quantitative MRI parameters can provide information about different characteristics of tissue, and, combined with clinical variables, may improve our understanding of some pathological conditions.


Dr Nick Dowell >

Prof Itamar Ronen >

Iris Asllani >

A black and white series of a set of brain scans

BSMS Neuroscience & Psychiatry

BSMS Neuroscience is strongly represented at the Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre and is a key research theme within the Medical School, spanning developmental, peripheral and central aspects of neural function using a range of methodological approaches.

Neuroscience is also integrated within the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes within the Medical School and across the Universities of Brighton and Sussex. The department of Psychiatry encompasses full-time academics, honorary lecturers and senior lecturers engaged in undergraduate and postgraduate neuroscience research.


Prof Hugo Critchley >
Dr Natasha Sigala >

"Our joint aim is to characterise the biological underpinnings of consciousness in its varied expressions in a way that ultimately has practical clinical relevance.

"The Centre will integrate theoretical models of consciousness with both real-world clinical observations from psychiatry, and experimental observations from psychology, neuroimaging and computer simulations to address what is undoubtedly one of the 'big questions' for 21st-century biological science.

Prof Anil Seth and Prof Hugo Critchley
Co-directors of the Sussex Centre for Consciousness Science

School of Psychology, University of Sussex

The School of Psychology is engaged in research across a broad range of the discipline and provides a high-quality research environment for staff and for research students.

Psychology at Sussex achieved an excellent result in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise and was ranked 12th equal among the 76 submissions. 60% of our research was recognised as world leading or internationally excellent, and 95% was internationally recognised or better. Overall the University of Sussex had over 90% of its research rated as internationally recognised or better, and was ranked overall in the top 30 in the UK.

The School is organised into four research groups which hold regular seminars and serve as a focus for faculty and research students.


Sussex Centre for Consciousness Science

The Sussex Centre for Consciousness Science (SCCS) is a joint venture between the Schools of Informatics and Psychology at the University of Sussex, and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Its remit is to unravel the complex neural networks underpinning conscious experience, in health and in disease.

Researchers from neuroscience, psychology, philosophy and psychiatry have been brought together in the SCCS, where they study the conscious state using a unique combination of theory, clinical investigations and hard science.

The Sussex Centre scientists use neuroimaging, mathematics and computer science to cast fresh light on questions relating to consciousness.


Prof Anil Seth >


Bringing low-field MRI to BSMS

Prof Andrew Webb, Director of the C.J.Gorter MRI Center at Leiden University Medical Center, visited the University of Sussex campus on 25 May for a tour of the Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre (CISC) and delivered a fascinating talk about his ground-breaking research in radical new low-field MRI design. Hosted by Professor Itamar Ronen, CISC Academic Director and Chair in Medical Physics at BSMS, Prof Webb's talk, 'Designing a portable MRI machine: engineering and physics principles meet clinical and neuroscience applications', described the low-field MRI systems built in his lab. Watch the talk via the button below. Guests included long-time supporter of BSMS, Michael Chowen CBE, and Prof Paul Tofts, former Chair in Imaging Physics at BSMS and Prof Malcolm Reed, Dean of BSMS. CISC will be getting their very own low field MRI soon, and are excited to attract PhD students interested in this area to work with Itamar and the wider campus community.

Watch the video below.