BRACE trial PhD opportunities

Research Opportunity
PhD students
Department / Centre
Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Prof Nigel Curtis Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Nicole Messina Personal web page
Dr Laure Pittet

Summary Looking for a clinical or laboratory PhD project? If you’re interested in being part of the world’s largest study on the off-target effects of BCG vaccine, you’re in the right place. Based at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the BRACE trial has some exciting opportunities for both clinical and laboratory PhD projects.

Project Details

In addition to protecting against its target disease, tuberculosis, the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine has beneficial off-target ('heterologous' or 'non-specific') effects on human health, including reducing all cause infant mortality, likely by protecting against non-mycobacterial infectious diseases. This protection is proposed to result from the immunomodulatory effects of BCG.

Our team has established two randomised controlled trials (RCTs) investigating whether BCG protects against non-mycobacterial diseases:

  • The BRACE trial: our international RCT of almost 7000 healthcare workers from five countries, to determine if BCG vaccination reduces the incidence of symptomatic and severe COVID-19, as well as other respiratory illness and allergic diseases.
  • Melbourne Infant Study: BCG for Allergy and Infection Reduction (MIS BAIR): our RCT of neonatal BCG vaccination in more than 1200 Melbourne children to determine if BCG protects against allergic disease, eczema, asthma and other infections.

PhD projects will use the extensive data and sample biobank from participants in one or both of these trials to study the off-target effects of BCG. In the laboratory project, this will involve characterising BCG-induced changes in the immune system. You will use a combination of in vitro stimulation assays, flow cytometry, multiplex cytokine assays, epigenetic analysis and gene expression analyses.

The findings will provide important insights into the immunomodulatory effects of BCG and the associations between these changes and the beneficial clinical effects of this vaccine.

Interested in joining the team of almost 400 researchers and staff?

To find out more or to apply, email

Faculty Research Themes

Child Health, Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine

Research Opportunities

PhD students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre


Research Node

Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

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