Student Opportunities

STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES AT A GLANCE

Download our flyer (updated July 2016): Student opportunities

In more detail

Project #1: Exploring two ways of measuring haemoglobin and the effects of diurnal variation on haemoglobin concentrations in women of childbearing age.

Tim Green

This is an honours project. Please contact Professor Green for details.

Project #2: Exploring the effect of omega 3 supplementation on pregnancy outcomes

Lisa YellandPhilippa MiddletonKaren Best Maria Makrides

The ORIP randomised trial is being conducted to test the hypothesis that omega-3 supplementation in pregnancy reduces the risk of babies being born too soon. This trial will recruit over 5000 pregnant women and collect a wealth of data including demographic and clinical characteristics, baseline omega-3 levels, compliance with the intervention, fetal growth as measured by ultrasound scans, and a range of pregnancy outcomes. Before specific recommendations can be made regarding the use of omega-3 supplements in pregnancy or alteration in diet to increase omega-3 status, a series of detailed studies are required that may contribute to one or more PhD projects and include:

  • Identify predictors of compliance with the intervention.
  • Explore the effect of baseline omega-3 levels and compliance with the intervention on key pregnancy outcomes.
  • Understand the variation of omega- 3 status at baseline in relation to sociodemographic factors
  • Investigations of the effect of omega-3 supplementation on fetal growth.
  • Undertake a series of small scale trial to assess the effect of different dietary regimes on omega-3 status

Project #3: Behaviour and mental health outcomes in adolescents who were born very preterm

Jacquie Gould

This can be either a PhD or  honours project.

Children born preterm often suffer a range of medical and developmental complications, such as higher rates of long-term health, behavioural and educational impairments, with consequences that last into young adulthood such as higher rates of emotional and mental health problems. This project will assess a variety of mental health, behavioural and socio-emotional outcomes at 15 years of age in a cohort of 550 Australian adolescents born preterm who had suboptimal behavioural functioning at 7 years of age, and thus are at high risk of poor adolescent outcomes.

Project #4: Early childhood development of language, temperament and behaviour in toddlers born extremely preterm. 

Jacquie Gould

This can be either a PhD or honours project.

Because extremely preterm infants are born before their organs have finished developing, they are high-risk for developing long-term developmental disorders, language problems, behavioural problems and learning disabilities. In order to facilitate early detection and treatment of developmental problems, most Australian hospitals routinely conduct screening assess of very preterm children at around 2 years of age. However, as long-term deficits are still prevalent in these children more in-depth assessments of their neurodevelopment, such as their behaviour, social-emotional functioning, executive functioning and language, may be in order to improve treatment and long –term outcomes of these vulnerable children. This project will explore the early development of Australian children who were born extremely preterm

Project #5: Using data linkage to determine safety outcomes in high-risk preterm infants following early high-dose omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid supplementation (supervisors Collins, Makrides).

Carmel Collins

The aim of this project is to determine the safety of a enteral emulsion containing docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) given in the neonatal period by assessing a combination of hospital admission, emergency department attendance, medical and pharmaceutical service data measured in early childhood. This is a follow-up of the N3RO randomised controlled trial. In N3RO 1244 infants born <29 weeks gestation were given supplementary enteral DHA (60 mg/kg/day) compared to control (no additional DHA) from within the first days of life to 36 weeks post menstrual age. The primary outcome for the trial is the incidence of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and results will be known early 2016. It is important to determine the longer term safety of the DHA intervention up to 2 years of age. This will be done by using person-level linked health related data (with parent consent) from Australian, New Zealand and Singapore data linkage programs, and from Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule.

Project #6: Improving participation and engagement in randomised controlled trials (supervisors Collins, Best, Makrides)

Carmel Collins

Randomised controlled trials frequently require longer recruitment periods than initially estimated with some failing to recruit the required number of participants. This has implications for trial results as with lengthy recruitment periods it is possible for clinical practice to change during that time and with difficult recruitment selective enrolment may occur, both affecting the generalisabilty of the study. Trials that don’t reach sample size will suffer from lack of power. The aim of this project is to determine individual, clinician and organisational factors that influence participation in trials as well as to consider ways to optimise the expertise for the trial participants.

Project # 7: Does iodine nutrition in pregnancy and early childhood affect growth, body composition and metabolic health of the children?

Dr Shao Jia (Jo) Zhou Prof Maria Makrides

This is a PhD project.

Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormone which is a key regulator of energy and nutrient metabolism. Iodine deficiency can lead to affect thyroid hormone production which has adverse effect on growth and development. Suboptimal thyroid function has been linked to higher risk of obesity and insulin resistance in adults but little is known about the effect on young children. The aim of the study is to examine the influence of iodine nutritional before birth (mother’s iodine nutrition in pregnancy) and in early childhood on BMI, body composition and metabolic health of children. The project will involve following up of a large cohort of children whose mother participated in a pregnancy iodine nutrition study. Findings from this study will provide new insights into the relationship between iodine nutrition and risk of overweight and metabolic disorder, and may help identify a novel approach to combat childhood obesity.

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The SAHMRI community acknowledges and respects the traditional owners, the family clans who are the Kaurna Nation from the Adelaide Plains region of South Australia. We acknowledge the clans of the Kaurna Nation and the sacred knowledge they hold for their country. We pay our respects to the Kaurna Nation, their ancestors and the descendants of these living family clans today.