STUDENT OPPORTUNITIES AT A GLANCE
Download our flyer (updated July 2016): Student opportunities
In more detail
Project #1: Behaviour and mental health outcomes in adolescents who were born very preterm
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 #2: Early childhood development of language, temperament and behaviour in toddlers born extremely preterm.
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 #3: Using data linkage to determine safety outcomes in high-risk preterm infants following early high-dose omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid supplementation (supervisors Collins, Makrides).
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 #4: Improving participation and engagement in randomised controlled trials (supervisors Collins, Best, Makrides)
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 # 5: Does iodine nutrition in pregnancy and early childhood affect growth, body composition and metabolic health of the children?
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.