Orygen, National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health PhD Research Project

PhD Project Title: Early Clinical Phenotypes of Substance Use Disorders

Orygen Unit: Substance Use Research

Supervisors: Dr. Gill Bedi, Prof Eoin Killackey

Contact Details: gill.bedi@orygen.org.au

Scope: PhD

Project Description: As is the case for other mental illnesses, Substance Use Disorders (SUDs) commonly emerge in adolescence or early adulthood. Despite this, existing research about the clinical characteristics and course of SUDs has largely focused on adults, and has failed to differentiate early stage presentations from longer-standing, more chronic illnesses. The staging model of mental illness posits that discrete disorders emerge from periods of transient and poorly differentiated symptoms, which do not reach the level of diagnostic specificity. Once diagnostic thresholds have been met, presentations can include first episode, remitted, and chronic illnesses involving a relapsing/remitting course. SUDs have not yet been well conceptualised within this model, and little is known about early clinical phenotypes of SUDs and whether these differ from more entrenched illness presentations. The aim of this project is to characterise behavioural and clinical features of emerging Substance Use Disorders, with data taken from the baseline time point of an RCT beginning at headspace Werribee in early 2019. The project will include direct involvement in behavioural and clinical data collection as part of a broader project team. Results from this project will contribute to the development of an empirical basis for age and stage-appropriate interventions for young people with emerging and early-stage SUDs. The successful applicant would be expected to meet the entry requirements and enrol in a full-time PhD with the Centre for Youth Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health Sciences, University of Melbourne (https://mdhs.unimelb.edu.au/our-organisation/institutes-centres-departments/cymh).

Scholarship funding may be available for this position, however interested candidates will also be asked to apply for a Graduate Research Scholarship through Melbourne University, with the first submission date of 31/10/18.   

It is essential that applicants meet the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and
Health Science’s requirements for Graduate Research candidature.

Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences PhD course information: http://mdhs-study.unimelb.edu.au/degrees