Professor Martyn Paley

BSc, PhD, MEd, FInstP

Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease

Emeritus Professor of BioMedical Imaging
+44 114 215 9605

Full contact details

Professor Martyn Paley
Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease
The Medical School
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX

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 developed. I then 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 generation of 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 designed complete specialised MR scanners including hardware, software and imaging sequences for orthopaedic and neonatal imaging. The Niche orthopaedic and neonatal MRI system which I developed and commercialised internationally was used to scan many babies in the NICU in Sheffield for almost twenty years and is now featured in the new Wellcome Medical Gallery at the National Science Museum in London

I am currently an Emeritus Professor in Academic Radiology. Since retiring, I still try and stay in touch with colleagues at the University, including writing papers and helping with grant applications. I am also involved in consulting work for a consortium of companies from around the world who are developing specialised MRI systems. I am creating a website which charts the History of Magnetic Resonance Imaging & Spectroscopy in the UK with contributed articles from many of the pioneering scientists in the field. I also play music in a band, at local events and schools, as well as recently performing at the British Chapter of ISMRM scientific meeting evening event held here in Sheffield.

Research interests

My main research interests over my career have been based around Magnetic Resonance Imaging Physics and Engineering linked to other imaging modalities for improving diagnosis and therapy of many diseases:

  • Engineering specialised technology for neonatal and orthopaedic imaging, interventional MR and MR compatible neonatal incubators.
  • 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) applied to tumour and sperm metabolism research. Synthesis and evaluation of 13C labelled DNP agents for enhanced MR of metabolism.
  • Work with the Sheffield Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre to develop imaging biomarkers for cancer.
  • New methods for in-utero imaging including fetal ECG gating to enable MR measurement of cardiac parameters and umbilical cord blood flow.
  • 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. Investigation of EEG Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) control algorithms.
  • Development of alternative methods to improve signal to noise ratio for MR including cryogenic radiofrequency coil arrays, Overhauser enhanced MRI (O-MRI) at ultra-low magnetic fields as well as 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.

My research has been extensively funded by awards from many organisations over the years 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 who I thank for all their support.


Research group

Previous Student Supervision

All the PhD students I have supervised over my career have now successfully completed their PhDs. Recent students include:

  • Areej Alghamdi – (funded by the Saudi Arabian government and MRC) supervised with Dr Munitta Muthana who worked on magnetic drug targeting for localised delivery of anti-cancer drugs to tumours.
  • Nurul Ismail – (funded by the Malaysian government and MRC) supervised with Prof Allan Pacey and Dr Steven Reynolds who investigated the metabolism of sperm and its role in male fertility,
  • Rebecca Collins (funded by a BioImaging Consortium of Singapore A* grant) jointly supervised by Dr Simon Jones in Chemistry, who developed novel compounds for Dynamic Nuclear Polarisation (DNP) enhanced MRI for cancer and cardiac applications.
  • Shwan Kaka (funded by the Kurdish Government) who developed methods for correlated MR, EEG and Optical Spectroscopy of human nerve function. 
  • Jack Pearson (funded by EPSRC) jointly supervised by Dr Allan Pacey in Human Metabolism who researched 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) who researched novel EEG analysis methods for brain-computer interfaces also using MRI to help improve source localisation.

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.

Teaching interests

I ran the FRCR part 1 MRI training lectures for Radiologists formany years 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 including University College London, Imperial College London, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge, Institute of Cancer Research, Bradford, Lancaster and others.

I interviewed and acted as a mentor for medical students over many years. I also completed a part-time Master of Education degree at the University of Sheffield in 2001.

Professional activities

I have been 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 currently a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and a member of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

I organised two national meetings on MRI/S and have also chaired many scientific sessions at national and international scientific meetings and have given many invited talks and seminars.

I was 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 founded and am a 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.

Key Publications

See all publications on PubMed

Calvert SJ, Reynolds S, Paley MN, Walters SJ, Pacey AA. (2019) Probing human sperm metabolism using 13C-magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Mol Hum Reprod, 25(1): 30-41.

Griffiths PD, Jarvis D, Armstrong L, Connolly DJA, Bayliss P, Cook J, Hart AR, Pilling E, Williams T, Paley MNJ. (2018) Initial experience of an investigational 3T MR scanner designed for use on neonatal wards. Eur Radiol, 28(10): 4438-4446.

Reynolds S, Ismail NFB, Calvert SJ, Pacey AA, Paley MNJ. (2017) Evidence for Rapid Oxidative Phosphorylation and Lactate Fermentation in Motile Human Sperm by Hyperpolarized 13C Magnetic Resonance SpectroscopySci Rep, 28;7(1): 4322.

Reynolds S, Calvert SJ, Paley MN, Pacey AA. (2017) 1H Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy of live human sperm. Mol Hum Reprod, 23(7): 441-451.

Reynolds S, Metcalf S, Cochrane EJ, Collins RC, Jones S, Paley MNJ, Tozer GM. (2017) Direct arterial injection of hyperpolarized 13 C-labeled substrates into rat tumors for rapid MR detection of metabolism with minimal substrate dilutionMagn Reson Med, 78(6):2116-2126.

Amabebe E, Reynolds S, Stern V, Stafford G, Paley M, Anumba DO. (2016) Cervicovaginal Fluid Acetate: A Metabolite Marker of Preterm Birth in Symptomatic Pregnant Women. Front Med (Lausanne), 3: 48.

Amabebe E, Reynolds S, Stern VL, Parker JL, Stafford GP, Paley MN, Anumba DO. (2016) Identifying metabolite markers for preterm birth in cervicovaginal fluid by magnetic resonance spectroscopyMetabolomics, 12:  67.

Bluff JE, Reynolds S, Metcalf S, Alizadeh T, Kazan SM, Bucur A, Wholey EG, Bibby BAS, Williams L, Paley MN, Tozer GM. (2015) Measurement of the acute metabolic response to hypoxia in rat tumours in vivo using magnetic resonance spectroscopy and hyperpolarised pyruvateRadiotherapy and Oncology, 116(3): 392-399.

Kailavasan M, Rehman I, Reynolds S, Bucur A, Tozer G, Paley M. (2014) NMR-based evaluation of the metabolic profile and response to dichloroacetate of human prostate cancer cells. NMR Biomed, 27(5): 610-616.

Cole LM, Bluff JE, Carolan VA, Paley MN, Tozer GM, Clench MR. (2014) MALDI-MSI and label-free LC-ESI-MS/MS shotgun proteomics to investigate protein induction in a murine fibrosarcoma model following treatment with a vascular disrupting agentProteomics, 14(7-8): 890-903.

Reynolds S, Bucur A, Port M, Alizadeh T, Kazan SM, Tozer GM, Paley MNJ. (2014) A system for accurate and automated injection of hyperpolarized substrate with minimal dead time and scalable volumes over a large range. J Magn Reson, 239: 1-8.

Paley MNJ, Morris JE, Jarvis D, Griffiths PD. (2013) Fetal electrocardiogram (fECG) gated MRI. Sensors (Basel), 13(9): 11271-11279.

Pervolaraki E, Anderson RA, Benson AP, Hayes-Gill B, Holden AV, Moore BJR, Paley MN, Zhang H. (2013) Antenatal architecture and activity of the human heart. Interface Focus, 3(2): 20120065.

Kazan SM, Reynolds S, Kennerley A, Wholey E, Bluff JE, Berwick J, Cunningham VJ, Paley MN. Tozer GM. (2013) Kinetic modeling of hyperpolarized (13)C pyruvate metabolism in tumors using a measured arterial input function. Magn Reson Med, 70(4), 943-953.  

Paley MNJ, Hart AR, Lait M, Griffiths PD. (2012) An MR-compatible neonatal incubator. Br J Radiol, 85(1015): 952-958.

Cheong HS, Wild J, Alford N, Valkov I, Randell C, Paley M. (2010) A High Temperature Superconducting Imaging Coil for Low-Field MRI. Concept Magn Reson B, 37B(2): 56-64.

Paley MNJ, Chow LS, Whitby EH, Cook GG. (2009) Modelling of axonal fields in the optic nerve for direct MR detection studies. Image Vision Comput, 27(4): 331-341.

Paley MNJ, Kryukov E, Lamperth M, Young IR. (2009) An independent multichannel imaging research system for ultrashort echo time imaging on clinical MR systems. Concept Magn Reson B, 35B(2): 80-88.

Paley MNJ, Wild JM, Lee KJ, Griffiths PD, Whitby EH. (2007) SNR phase order k-space encoding (SPOKE)Magn Reson Imaging, 25(10): 1402-1408.

Paley MNJ, Lee KJ, Wild JM, Griffiths PD, Whitby EH. (2006) Simultaneous parallel inclined readout image technique. Magn Reson Imaging, 24(5): 557-562.

Paley MNJ, Lee KJ, Wild JM, Fichele S, Whitby EH, Wilkinson ID, Van Beek EJ, Griffiths PD. (2003) B1AC-MAMBA: B1 array combined with multiple-acquisition micro B0 array parallel magnetic resonance imaging. Magn Reson Med, 49(6): 1196-1200.

Miszkiel KA, Paley MN, Wilkinson ID, Hall-Craggs MA, Ordidge R, Kendall BE, Miller RF, Harrison MJ. (1997) The measurement of R2, R2* and R2' in HIV-infected patients using the prime sequence as a measure of brain iron deposition. Magn Reson Imaging, 15(10): 1113-1119.

Paley MN, Chong WK, Wilkinson ID, Shepherd JK, Clews AM, Sweeney BJ, Hall-Craggs MA, Kendall BE, Newman SP, Harrison MJ. (1994) Cerebrospinal fluid-intracranial volume ratio measurements in patients with HIV infection: CLASS image analysis technique. Radiology, 190(3): 879-886.

Clough S, Horsewill AJ & Paley MNJ (1982) Dynamic nuclear polarisation by the cooling of tunnelling methyl groups. Journal of Physics C: Solid State Physics, 15(17): 3803-3808.