Professor Martyn Paley BSc PhD MEd FInstP

Professor of BioMedical ImagingMartyn Paley

Department of Infection, Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease
University of Sheffield
Medical School
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX

Office:  Room CX20, Floor C, Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

Telephone: +44 (0) 114 215 9608
Fax: +44 (0) 114 271 1714
Secretary - Chrissie Gash
Tel: +44 (0)114 215 9507


I have been involved with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (MRI/S) since 1973 when I studied Physics as both an undergraduate and postgraduate at Nottingham University, where MRI was invented. I have worked in industry for a number of companies in physics and engineering research including Rolls-Royce Aero-Engines (Combustion Engineering), Kodak (Colour Physics) and Picker International (MRI/S) in both the UK and the USA where I helped develop the first ever commercial MRI scanners during the 1980’s.

I left industry for academia in 1991, establishing an MR physics research group at University College London to investigate Neurological MR Imaging and Spectroscopy as well as development of Interventional MRI. I joined the University of Sheffield in 1997 and have been involved in setting up Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (MRI/S) research in a wide range of topics from advanced functional MRI to neonatal and in-utero imaging and hyperpolarised gas and fluid enhanced MRI/S. I have a major interest in MR physics and engineering and have developed complete specialised MR scanners including all hardware, software and imaging sequences for orthopaedic and neonatal imaging which have been successfully commercialised.

I am currently Professor of BioMedical Imaging in Academic Radiology and my research has been extensively funded over the past two decades by awards from many organisations such as Medlink, DTI, DH, EPSRC, MRC, Royal Society, EU, TSB, BICS A*, Kurdish Government, CRUK and industrial companies such as Nycomed-Amersham, GE Healthcare, Siemens Medical Systems and Philips Healthcare.

Research Interests:

My main research interests are based around Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics and Engineering linked to other imaging modalities for improving diagnosis and therapy of fetal and neonatal conditions as well as cancer and cardiac diseases in adults:

  • High field imaging and spectroscopy of cells, tissues and bio-fluids using a dedicated 9.4T micro-imaging and spectroscopy system with massive hyperpolarised signal enhancement through dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP).
  • New methods for in-utero fetal imaging including fetal ECG gating of MR scanners to enable measurement of cardiac parameters and umbilical cord blood flow.
  • Engineering technology including design and evaluation of dedicated MR systems and research spectrometers for neonatal and orthopaedic imaging, interventional MR and MR compatible neonatal incubators.
  • Advanced functional MR with correlated Electroencephalography (EEG) and Optical Spectroscopy including development of methods to directly stimulate and visualise axonal and neuronal firing within an MR system.
  • Development of methods to radically improve signal to noise ratio for MR including cryogenic radiofrequency coil arrays, Overhauser enhanced MRI (O-MRI) at ultra-low magnetic fields and technology for massively increased MR sensitivity through hyperpolarisation of nuclei (gases and fluids).
  • Novel hardware and acquisition sequences for high contrast and accelerated MRI/S (e.g. PRIME, GRACE, B1AC-MAMBA, SPIRIT, SPOKE).
  • Image processing methods (e.g. CLASS tissue segmentation) for analysis of cardiac and oncological imaging.

Teaching Interests:

My teaching interests include running the FRCR part 1 MRI training lectures for Radiologists as well as supervision of BMedSci, MSc and PhD students. I have been an external lecturer and external examiner for MRI/S courses and PhD exams at other Universities within the UK (e.g. University College London, Imperial College London, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, Institute of Cancer Research, Bradford, Lancaster and others) over the past two decades. I am an academic mentor for seven undergraduate medical students. I completed a part-time Master of Education degree at the University of Sheffield in 2001. I am currently supervising four PhD students.

  • Rebecca Collins (funded by a BioImaging Consortium of Singapore A* grant and jointly supervised by Dr Simon Jones in Chemistry) who is developing novel compounds for Dynamic Nuclear Polarisation (DNP) enhanced MRI for cancer and cardiac applications.
  • Shwan Kaka (funded by the Kurdish Government) who is developing methods for correlated MR, EEG and Optical Spectroscopy of human nerve function.
  • Jack Pearson (funded by EPSRC and jointly supervised by Dr Allan Pacey in Human Metabolism) who is researching biomarkers for male infertility using high field MR imaging and spectroscopy.
  • Alex Zaitsev (funded by EPSRC DTC) and jointly supervised by Dr Greg Cook (EEE) and Dr Elizabeth Milne (Psychology).

Professional Activities:

I am a reviewer for many international peer-reviewed journals including MRM, JMRI, MRI, IOP journals, Radiology and grant awarding bodies such as EPSRC, MRC, CRUK, NIHR, ERC and the Australian Research Council. I am a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a member of the British Chapter of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine committee. I have organised two national meetings on MRI/S. I have chaired many scientific sessions at national and international scientific meetings and have given many invited talks and seminars. I have acted as a member of the scientific program committee for the European Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine and Biology and helped organise the 2013 and 2015 conferences, chairing many plenary and scientific sessions. I am a Founder and Director of an SME, InnerVision MRI Ltd which produces FDA regulatory cleared dedicated MR systems and has won a British Design Council award for technology development.

Current Projects:

  • MRC funded project grant to investigate male fertility through high resolution NMR spectroscopy and dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP) enhanced MRI/S.
  • EPSRC funded study to investigate male fertility using 9.4T high field MR imaging and spectroscopy.
  • Wellcome trust funded project to develop/evaluate a GE Healthcare 3T dedicated neonatal MRI system to be installed in the Jessop Wing.
  • EPSRC funded study to investigate EEG Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) control algorithms.
  • Sheffield ECMC co-Investigator for development of imaging biomarkers.
  • CRUK/EPSRC/DH/MRC funded programme grant to investigate dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP) enhanced MRI/S (project complete and in write up).
  • BioImaging Consortium of Singapore A* funded project to design, synthesise and evaluate 13C labelled DNP agents for enhanced MR (project close to completion).
  • Kurdish government funded project to study advanced functional MR with correlated EEG and optical spectroscopy (project close to completion).


I have over 170 peer reviewed publications, 13 book chapters and 5 patents in the field of MRI/S with a current h-index of 34.

For key publications see below. For a full list of publications click here.

Journal articles