MMS Honours projects for Sonia

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Projects Title Research Node (Project Site) Department Project Description Number of Places Available (Masters) Number of Places Available (Honours) Primary Supervisor UoM Staff ID Number Primary Supervisor Title Primary Supervisor First Name Primary Supervisor Surname Primary Supervisor Email Co-Supervisor 1 Title Co-Supervisor 1 First Name Co-Supervisor 1 Surname Co-Supervisor 2 Title Co-Supervisor 2 First Name Co-Supervisor 2 Surname Co-Supervisor 3 Title Co-Supervisor 3 First Name Co-Supervisor 3 Surname Additional Supervisors (Please include the title and full name) Opportunity
: Unravelling the role of breast milk ether lipids in modulating immune function in early life Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health In this project we will combine our lipidomics expertise with our unique mouse models of ether lipid modification to define the role of breast milk ether lipids in modulating immune function in infants. Professor Peter Meikle peter.meikle@baker.edu.au Dr Sudip Paul n/a PhD students; Honours students
A clinical trial-in-a-dish using iPSC-derived cartilage and bone organoids Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics We have developed new protocols to differentiate induced pluripotent stem cells into cartilage and bone cells so that we can model inherited skeletal disorders. This project focusses on a disorder called metaphyseal chondrodysplasia, type Schmid (MCDS) which is an autosomal dominant genetic skeletal disease caused by mutations in COL10A1, the gene for the hypertrophic cartilage structural protein collagen X. It is a serious chronic medical condition. We have shown that MCDS mice treated with carbamazepine (CBZ), a drug that relieves ER stress by stimulating intracellular protein degradation, have improved long bone growth and decreased hip dysplasia. Based on this, an EU funded world-wide clinical trial is underway to test if CBZ, an FDA approved drug, can be repurposed to treat MCDS. Most MCDS patients have private mutations and the precise cellular pathology will vary between mutation types and affect therapeutic outcomes. A/Prof Shireen Lamande shireen.lamande@mcri.edu.au Prof John Bateman Dr Louise Kung n/a PhD students
A cytokine pathway in the control of inflammation and pain Medicine Chronic pain has led significantly to the opioid epidemic and the need for improved therapy. With this in mind the project is designed to understand how a particular protein controls inflammation and its associated pain. Professor John Hamilton jahami@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ming-Chin (Kevin) Lee n/a PhD students
A high throughput drug screen to identify candidate targets for the treatment of Neurofibromatosis Type 1. Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics NF1 is a single-gene disorder caused by a loss-of-function mutation in the NF1 gene resulting in a reduction of the protein neurofibromin. Cognitive deficits occur in approximately 80% of children with the genetic syndrome, neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), making them the greatest cause of disability for individuals with this lifelong genetic condition. These manifest as academic failure due to learning disabilities (70%), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; 40%) and a significantly increased risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD; 25%). Dr Kiymet Bozaoglu kiymet.bozaoglu@mcri.edu.au Prof Paul Lockhart A/Prof Jonathan Payne n/a PhD students
A monoclonal antibody (mAb1F5) has been developed that identifies the expression of a putative growth factor Austin Health Medicine Dr Peter Wookey pwookey@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
A novel approach in improving lipidomics throughput for population profiling Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health This study aims to generate a novel approach in comprehensive lipidomic profiling using high resolution mass spectrometry approaches in conjunction with computational biology. Professor Peter Meikle peter.meikle@baker.edu.au Dr Kevin Huynh n/a PhD students
A novel biomarker strategy to predict neurogenerative disease risk Psychiatry This project will examine the potential of a novel chemical probe as a biomarker of neurodegenerative disease risk. Dr Samantha Loi samantha.loi@unimelb.edu.au Professor Danny Hatters Professor Dennis Velakoulis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
A parallel group, blinded, placebo controlled, ranDomised pRagmatic clinical trial investigating the Effect of temazepAM on objective and subjective measures of sleep in critically ill patients (The DREAM trial) Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Sleep dysfunction (a reduction in quantity and quality) occurs frequently in the intensive care unit (ICU) and is associated with adverse outcomes. To improve sleep in the ICU patients are often prescribed a sleep aid medication, however, there is no evidence that these drugs actually work in the ICU setting. This randomised clinical trial will answer the question: Does temazepam (a frequently administered drug) affect sleep quality or total sleep time in critically ill patients? A/Prof Adam Deane adam.deane@mh.org.au Dr Yasmine Ali Abdelhamid n/a Masters by Research
A systematic review of end of life quality of care indicators St Vincent's Hospital Medicine Increasingly services around the world are seeking to benchmark the quality of the care that is provided to patients receiving palliative care. A series of indices have been developed to seek to enable assessment between and within services of the quality of palliative care delivered. However, different indices are used in different settings and such indices cross domains including health service use indicators, and patient and family reported outcomes. A systematic understanding of the indices available and their strengths and limitations is required in order to take this important field of work forward. Prof Jennifer Philip jphilip@unimelb.edu.au Dr Anna Collins n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
A systematic review of the management of sleep in palliative care cancer patients St Vincent's Hospital Medicine Sleep disturbance is very common in a cancer illness, resulting from symptoms from the cancer itself, symptoms related to cancer treatment and the psychological effects of having a cancer diagnosis. This problem frequently escalates in patients with advanced disease. The management of sleep in this setting is currently the subject of a developing program of clinical trials using pharmacological agents. This systematic review would provide the foundational tenets for this program of work. Prof Jennifer Philip jphilip@unimelb.edu.au Dr Anna Collins n/a Masters by Research
A therapeutic strategy for killing cancer cells by DNA repair inhibition St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine DNA damage drives cancer formation but also its treatment. BLM helicase is an enzyme that acts as a quality control factor during the repair of DNA damage. In this project you will drive the development of new small molecule-based strategies for targeting BLM for cancer treatment. A/Prof Andrew Deans adeans@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
A validation study of verbal learning measures in a bipolar disorder sample Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry We are seeking an enthusiastic and academically high-performing student to be involved in an honours project investigating and examining patient performance on two independent measures of verbal learning performance. Dr Tamsyn Van Rheenen tamsyn.van@unimelb.edu.au n/a Honours students
Abnormal Placental Stem Cells And Their Role In Human Pregnancy Pathologies Obstetrics and Gynaecology This project will explore the molecular mechanisms by which extracellular vesicles derived from normal and pathological placental mesenchymal stem cells, modulate endothelial cell function. Dr Bill Kalionis kalionis@unimelb.edu.au Dr Maria Kokkinos n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Activated platelets targeted drug therapy Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Developing a novel targeted fibrinolytic drug that is directed against activated platelets. Fibrinolysis is a valuable alternative for treating myocardial infarction when an invasivesurgical procedure is not available in a timely fashion. Dr Xiaowei Wang xiaoweiw@unimelb.edu.au Professor Karlheinz Peter Dr Laura Bienvenu n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Adipocytes as Weapons of Bone Destruction: The bone as a War Zone Western Health Medicine Osteoporosis in older persons is the consequence of predominant differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) into fat at the expense of osteoblastogenesis and bone formation. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Dr. Ahmed Al Seadi n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Adverse health consequences of infant food allergy: a population-based longitudinal study. Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics A PhD project is available for a student to assess the adverse health consequences of food allergy throughout childhood and adolescence. Dr Rachel Peters rachel.peters@mcri.edu.au Dr Jennifer Koplin n/a PhD students
An anti-calcitonin receptor (CTR) antibody for the detection of programmed cell death: the role of CTR in a novel adaptive response in a pre-apoptotic mechanism Austin Health Medicine Programmed cell death (PCD) is an essential process in life. Dr Peter Wookey pwookey@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
An antibody that detects a high molecular weight surrogate ligand of calcitonin receptor is detected in malignant glioma cells and cell lines Austin Health Medicine An antibody was developed that binds high molecular weight targets (HMWT) with similar properties to the natural ligands of the calcitonin receptor (CTR). Dr Peter J Wookey pwookey@unimelb.edu.au Prof David Hare n/a PhD students
An examination of emotional intelligence and emotional dysregulation in bipolar disorder Psychiatry We are seeking an enthusiastic and academically high-performing student to be involved in an honours project investigating the emotional intelligence, dysregulation and coping strategies of individuals with bipolar disorder. Dr Tamsyn Van Rheenen tamsyn.van@unimelb.edu.au n/a Honours students
An exploration of the experience of care at the end of life for patients with a history of illicit drug use: A qualitative medical record review St Vincent's Hospital Medicine People with a current or past history of illicit drug use who are receiving palliative and end of life care have unique and significant care needs, including managing symptoms, particularly pain, finding an appropriate setting for healthcare delivery, managing concurrent physical and psychological comorbidity, which can be concealed by ongoing drug use, and navigating complex psycho-social circumstances. We have a program of work examining the end of life care of this patient cohort, with mixed methods data collection from patients and health care professionals. We are seeking to add a qualitative medical record review to provide an additional dimension to facilitate understanding and improve care. Prof Jennifer Philip jphilip@unimelb.edu.au Dr Anna Collins n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Analysis of Synovial Fluid and Peripheral Blood Samples from Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Using Patients with Osteoarthritis as Controls Western Health Medicine Better understanding of the pathophysiology of Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has led to the development of new therapeutic strategies. Despite this there is still an unmet need with an important number of patients not achieving low disease states or remission. A/prof Keith Lim kklim@unimelb.edu.au Prof John Hamilton n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Animal models of Brain Development assessed using histology Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Cognitive and memory deficits underlie and, in some cases, precede the diagnosis of many neuropsychiatric disorders from depression to autism and schizophrenia. The hippocampus is a key brain region responsible for cognitive and memory processing. The aim of the current project is to model hippocampal functioning in the mouse brain using a combination of histological and biochemical techniques, and to determine whether differences are present between age groups. Professor Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Dr Liliana Laskaris n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Animal models of Brain Development assessed using MRI Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry A newly commenced Program Grant aims to map brain-structure-function relationships and molecular signatures across developmental stages in the mouse, as measured through novel neuroimaging techniques and microscopy. The aim of the current project is to model hippocampal structure in the mouse brain using a combination of structural and spectroscopy neuroimaging techniques, and to determine whether differences are present between age groups. 1 Prof Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Dr Warda Taqdees Syeda n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Antibiotic stewardship and related polices impact on child health outcomes Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Antibiotic stewardship and related polices impact on child health outcomes Dr Yanhong Jessika Hu jessika.hu@mcri.edu.au Prof Melissa Wake n/a PhD students
Antibiotic stewardship and related polices impact on child health outcomes Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Study associations of hospital antibiotic stewardship and prescribing policies among pregnancy and newborn and its impact on childhood health outcomes Dr Yanhong Jessika Hu jessika.hu@mcri.edu.au Prof Melissa Wake n/a PhD students
Anxiety and neurodegeneration in preclinical Alzheimer’s Disease Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The project will provide a unique opportunity to work on an Australian dataset with midlife and late-life data collected (data over 20 years), and will suit a candidate with interest in cognition and ageing. There is also opportunity for publication. Dr Andrew Hua healthy-ageing@unimelb.edu.au Professor Cassandra Szoeke n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Application of computational biology approaches to identify and develop biomarkers to predict pregnancy disorders and guide clinical practice. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction and pre-term birth affect up to 10% of all pregnancies. This project will apply bioinformatics tools to develop biomarkers which may identify which women will develop preeclampsia leading to a predictive test for preeclampsia and personalised treatment options. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au A/Professor Kim-Anh Le Cao Dr Ellen Menkhorst n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Application of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to treat childhood syndromes St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine This project will develop new cutting-edge technologies for the correction of inherited mutations responsible for all manner of human disease. A/Prof Andrew Deans adeans@svi.edu.au Dr Astrid Glaser n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Artificial intelligence in ophthalmology: from data to algorithm and real-world application Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery This project aims to further evolve artificial intelligence technology to develop and validate a clinical decision system that can predict disease outcomes and prognosis, as well as help clinicians decide on treatment options, based on real-world multi-modality clinical data. Professor Mingguang He mingguang.he@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Artificial intelligence system to detect eye and cardiovascular diseases Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery Using the advanced deep learning system that has been developed and validated by the team as a basis, this project brings together medical research institutes, technical developers, industry, consumer organisations, government policy and service providers to develop, translate and prove an all-in-one AI system (A-Eye) that aims to create innovative solutions for multiple health disciplines and needs, including an opportunistic screening model, diagnosis standardisation and a cross-disciplinary model of risk prediction for cardiovascular diseases. Professor Mingguang He mingguang.he@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Assessing the therapeutic effects of plasmalogen supplementation in a mouse model of heart failure Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide. Approximately 60% of men and 45% of women with heart failure die within five years of diagnosis. Additional therapies are required to address this major unmet need. Lipids are a major component of all cell membranes including heart muscle cells. Recent studies have shown that lipids (molecules such as fats) are altered in various pathologies, such as cardiovascular disease. Plasmalogens are a specific type of lipid that are enriched in the heart. Previous studies have demonstrated that plasmalogen levels were reduced in settings of type 2 diabetes. I have recently published results that demonstrate an association of reduced plasmalogen levels to heart failure in mice. The role of plasmalogens in the heart however, is currently unclear. This study aims to assess the potential of treating a surgical mouse model of heart failure(Ischemia reperfusion) by using a dietary supplement that increases plasmalogens levels in the heart. 1 Dr Yow Keat Tham yowkeat.tham@baker.edu.au Prof Julie McMullen n/a Honours students
Assessment and management of fatigue following paediatric acquired brain injury Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Assessment and management of fatigue following paediatric acquired brain injury Dr Sarah Knight sarah.knight@mcri.edu.au A/Prof Adam Scheinberg n/a PhD students
Assessment of the Falls and Fractures Prevention Clinic as the Most Effective Setting toReduce Falls and Fractures in High-Risk Older Persons: A Care Program Assessment Western Health Medicine Western Health is one of the two centres in Australia that have implemented a new Falls and Fractures Prevention Clinic (FFPC). However, the effectiveness of this care model has not been assessed. We will assess the impact of the FFPC at reducing falls and fracture risk from initial assessment to six month follow up. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Associations Between Sarcopenia, Intramuscular Fat, Mental/Physical Function and Brain Atrophy: An Imaging and Machine Learning Approach Western Health Medicine Through a collaboration between AIMSS and our co-investigators in Norway we will quantify the volume of muscles of interest and the volume of intra/inter-muscular adipose tissue (IMAT) on MRI images of older adults. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ebrahim Bani Hassan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Australian Frontline Healthcare Workers Study: Understanding the psychoscial impacts of COVID-19 and other crises on the health workforce This study explores the important social, occupational and mental health effects experienced by frontline health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We will examine factors that promote good mental health and wellbeing, as well as risk factors for poorer mental health. Your input will inform recommendations to healthcare organisations and other professional bodies. Assoc Prof Natasha Smallwood natasha.smallwood@mh.org.au Prof Karen Willis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Balance Gym for Falls Prevention in Older Adults Western Health Medicine The Gait and Balance Gym provides a community program for falls and fracture prevention in older adults through traditional and novel methods Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Biofabrication of an in vitro 3D osteosarcoma model St Vincent's Hospital Surgery The goal of this project is to generate a 3D in vitro model of osteosarcoma using primary tumour cells and 3D bioprinting technologies. Dr Serena Duchi serena.duchi@unimelb.edu.au Dr Carmine Onofrillo Prof Peter Choong n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Bone Substrate Composition Affecting Bone Cell Formation, Function and Bone Turnover Western Health Medicine Bone substrate can affect both bone cell formation and bone cell function. Dysregulation of bone cells and altered turnover of bone are central to pathophysiology of bone. Both physical properties and chemical components may play a role. This project has been designed to assess whether carbonate substitutions and phosphorylation of bone substrate can affect the formation of bone and then the function of these cells. A/prof Damian Myers damianem@unimelb.edu.au Prof Natalie Sims n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
BRACE trial PhD opportunities Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics 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. Prof Nigel Curtis brace@mcri.edu.au Dr Nicole Messina Dr Laure Pittet n/a PhD students
Brain development and the pathophysiology of psychosis Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry This PhD project will conduct a program of research that investigates brain developmental changes associated with the emergence and pathophysiology of psychotic disorders. Dr Vanessa Cropley vcropley@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
Brain mapping: Brain atlases with multiple topographic features Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Map innovative atlases of the human brain that incorporate multiple topographic features Associate Professor Andrew Zalesky azalesky@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ye Tian n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Brain stimulation and clinical translation Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Develop innovative brain stimulation therapies for depression and other psychiatric disorders based on new knowledge of aberrant brain circuits and systems Associate Professor Andrew Zalesky azalesky@unimelb.edu.au Dr Robin Cash n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Brain storming therapeutics for neurodegeneration with novel research models Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Our current understanding as to the pathways that cause and progress neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease is poorly understood. Much information stands to be gained from studying preclinical models of these conditions, in which we can study the early and late changes that occur in the brain that associate with disease severity. This project will use several novel preclinical models to identify novel therapeutic targets that may be used in the future to treat these conditions 1 A/Prof Brian Drew brian.drew@baker.edu.au n/a PhD students; Honours students
Brainwave and Electrophysiological Biomarkers of Cognition Enhancing Drugs Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Dr Chris French frenchc@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Can we Fix Dementia with Deep Brain Stimulation? Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Dr Chris French frenchc@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Cancer drug discovery by inhibition of a DNA repair pathway with Crispr/Cas9 gene editing and biochemistry St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine In this project, you would learn about DNA repair, genetic diseases like familial breast cancer, and a variety of laboratory-based techniques (CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing in breast cancer cell lines, AlphaScreen drug discovery assays, recombinant DNA technology, drug discovery, cell-based chemotherapy response assays, pharmacokinetics, protein purification and in vitro enzyme assays). Dr Wayne Crismani wcrismani@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
CASE: Cartilage Analytic Screening Environment St Vincent's Hospital Surgery The goal of our research is to prevent the onset of Osteoarthritis by regenerating cartilage using a unique 3D printing technology, that requires multiple iteration steps to select the optimal combination of a biocompatible material and stem cells, to efficiently regenerate cartilage. Dr Carmine Onofrillo carmine.onofrillo@unimelb.edu.au Dr Serena Duchi Prof Peter Choong n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Causes of Depressive Symptoms in Early Ageing Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Major benefits of this study are: 1. There is opportunity for publication 2. You will have access to a unique database with two decades of psychological and social data 3. This study would be particularly suited to an individual wishing to gain experience in the areas of geriatric psychology and/or depression. 1 Professor Cassandra Szoeke healthy-ageing@unimelb.edu.au Professor Lorraine Dennerstein n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Cerebellar grey and white matter changes in children with Autism spectrum disorders Psychiatry Recent evidence suggests that the cerebellum may be a key site of neuropathology in individuals with Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), and may therefore play a critical role in the symptoms that characterise these disorders. This study will examine cerebellar grey matter and white matter changes during maturation and with the emergence of ASD symptoms. Professor Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Professor Stan Skafidas n/a PhD students
Characterising Respiratory Infections in Immune-suppressed Haematology and Transplant Patients Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Invasive fungal and viral infections are frequent complications in malignant haematology and transplant patients leading to high morbidity and mortality. This project aims to evaluate the host immune response in blood and lung through a prospective clinical study at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Professor Monica Slavin Monica.Slavin@mh.org.au Dr Michelle Yong n/a PhD students
Characterization of Osteosarcopenia in Older Persons: A Bench to Bedside Approach Western Health Medicine In older persons, the combination of osteopeniaosteoporosis and sarcopenia has been proposed as a subset of frailer individuals at higher risk of institutionalization, falls and fractures. However, the particular clinical, biochemical and functional characteristics of the osteosarcopenic (OS) patients remain unknown. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Characterizing brain-body relationship with respect to biological aging in elderly population Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry This project aims to comprehensively characterize patterns of aging in various human biological systems including the brain and other organ systems such as the cardiovascular, respiratory and skeleton systems, and to understand the relationship between the brain and the body with respect to the aging trajectory and health outcomes. Dr Ye Tian ye.tian2@unimelb.edu.au Dr Vanessa Cropley A/Prof Andrew Zalesky n/a Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Circulating Osteogenic Precurors: Building Bone from Blood Western Health Medicine Circulating Osteogenic Precursor (COP) cells are a newly discovered type of stem cell located in the blood. It is hoped that these cells could be a readily accessible target for cellular therapies in a range of diseases in the aging musculoskeletal system, however before they can be utilised clinically their biological nature and relationships with both normal physiology and pathology must be investigated. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au A/Prof Kulmira Nurgali n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Clinical features in a common inherited cause of kidney failure Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The aim of this project is to correlate mutations with clinical features. This project includes attending clinics, taking retinal photographs, searching clinical records, and examining mutations for pathogenic features (bioinformatics). Professor Judy Savige j.savige@unimelb.edu.au A/Prof Deb Colville A/Prof Heather Mack n/a PhD students
Closing the Gap on Aboriginal Cardiovascular Health disparities- Using Big Data to understand the patient health journey Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Cardiovascular (CV) disease is the largest contributor to the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. This research will inform CV risk management pathways and identify how CV disease is managed across the primary and tertiary care continuum for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. 1 Associate Professor Luke Burchill blj@unimelb.edu.au Dr Aneta Kotevski n/a Masters by Research
Cluster RCT of a multi-component intervention package to improve maternal and childhood vaccination in Victoria Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Cluster RCT of a multi-component intervention package to improve maternal and childhood vaccination in Victoria A/Prof Margie Danchin margie.danchin@rch.org.au Dr Jessica Kaufman n/a PhD students
Cognition and brain connectivity in psychosis Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry The aim of this project is to determine whether impairments in episodic memory, attentional set-shifting, and spatial working memory are related to disrupted brain connectivity (as measured by MRI-derived structural covariance; see Wannan et al, 2019) in key regions associated with performance on these tasks in individuals with first-episode psychosis. 1 Prof Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Ms Cassandra Wannan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Cognitive training for behavioural and psychological symptoms in young onset dementia Royal Women’s Hospital Psychiatry This project focused on the development and evaluation of an intervention targeting BPSD in people with young onset dementia Dr Alex Bahar-Fuchs alex.bahar@unimelb.edu.au n/a Masters by Research
Common severe childhood infections, innate inflammatory responses and cardiometabolic risk: The VASCular changes aFter INfectious Diseases (VASCFIND) study Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Infection, the commonest reason for childhood hospital admission, is a major driver of inflammation and is associated with cardiometabolic risk and disease. This established prospective study investigates how severe childhood infection affects innate inflammatory immune responses and cardiometabolic health. It encompasses both clinical assessments and laboratory studies. Prof David Burgner david.burgner@mcri.edu.au Dr Siroon Bekkering TBA n/a PhD students
Comparing the mental health and social determinants of family members who have HD in their family Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry We are interested in investigating the psychosocial outcomes and differences in sibling and family pairs who are gene positive and gene negative for Huntington's disease. Dr Samantha Loi samantha.loi@unimelb.edu.au Dr Anita Goh Professor Dennis Velakoulis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Computational neuroscience: Simulating brain dynamics and generative modelling of brain networks Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Simulate a person's brain activity based on their connectome and develop models to grow brain networks in silico Associate Professor Andrew Zalesky azalesky@unimelb.edu.au Dr Caio Seguin n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Concussion Essentials: A clinical trial for reducing persisting symptoms after child concussion Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics A single-centre randomised controlled trial to assess if a novel multimodal intervention can speed recovery from child concussion compared to usual care. Professor Vicki Anderson Vicki.Anderson@rch.org.au n/a PhD students
Controlled mechanical stimulation for cartilage regeneration modelling with 3D bioprinting techniques St Vincent's Hospital Surgery Promising treatment options of cartilage injuries combine the use of 3D-printed biomaterials with stem cells, commonly referred to as bioscaffolds, to produce hyaline cartilage. Although this repair strategy has good prospects, its main shortcomings are the difficulty in matching and mimicking cartilage development in the in vitro studies required to validate the specific 3D bioprinting system. The aim of this project is to characterize the rate of chondrogenic differentiation of 3D bioprinted samples laden with mesenchymal stem cells, by mechanical stimulation. Dr Carmine Onofrillo carmine.onofrillo@unimelb.edu.au Dr Serena Duchi n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Controlling nephron patterning and segmentation in kidney organoids Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Controlling nephron patterning and segmentation in kidney organoids Prof Melissa Little melissa.little@mcri.edu.au Dr Jessica Vanslambrouk n/a PhD students
COVID-19 and the common cold: does pre-existing immunity to seasonally circulating coronaviruses influence the severity of COVID-19 Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection, presents as a spectrum of illness ranging from mild upper respiratory tract symptoms to a multisystem inflammatory syndrome but we do not know what causes this difference in disease severity amongst individuals. There are seasonally circulating coronaviruses that cause the common cold. This project aims to determine whether pre-existing antibodies against these seasonally circulating coronaviruses are associated with protection from SARS-CoV-2 infection or associated with the development of asymptomatic/mild COVID-19? Associate Professor Siddhartha Mahanty smahanty@unimelb.edu.au Dr Louise Randall n/a Masters by Research
Debilitating Symptom Complexes attributed to Ticks - neuroimaging Austin Health Psychiatry An NHMRC funded project exploring a new treatment for an unexplained syndrome attributed to tick-bites (sometimes called 'Australian Lyme') in a randomised trial. As part of this, structural and functional MRI will longitudinally acquired for those undergoing active treatment and controls. Professor Richard Kanaan richard.kanaan@unimelb.edu.au Professor Sarah Wilson n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Decoding neural mechanisms underpinning human cognition in health and disease using machine learning Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry This project aims to understand the neural mechanisms underpinning higher-order cognitive function in humans. This student will be guided in using state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques and machine learning to decipher the complex network of brain circuits that give rise to individual variation in cognition in healthy adults as well as abnormal brain changes associated with cognitive decline in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. 1 1 Dr Ye Tian ye.tian2@unimelb.edu.au A/Prof Andrew Zalesky Dr Vanessa Cropley n/a Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Defining the essential functions of red blood cell modifying proteins in malaria parasites Burnet Institute Infectious Diseases Infection with malaria-causing Plasmodium parasites afflicts hundreds of millions of people per year, tragically resulting in nearly half a million deaths. The development of new drugs and vaccines can be informed by greater knowledge of the parasite’s biology. This project seeks to understand how parasites extensively modify the red blood cells (RBC) they infect by studying the multitude of proteins the parasite exports into the RBC compartment. In particular, several exported proteins predicted to be essential for parasite survival will be studied to determine what functions they perform and how this contributes to parasite proliferation and immune evasion. 1 A/Prof Paul Gilson paul.gilson@burnet.edu.au Dr Hayley Bullen n/a Honours students
Defining the role of embryo implantation failure in infertility and IVF success. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Infertility affects 1:6 couples worldwide. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Defining the Role of Transcriptional Stress Pathways in Cancer Cell Resistance Towards Anti-Cancer Therapeutics Western Health Medicine De novo and acquired resistance of cancer cells towards chemotherapeutics, hormonal treatments, as well as recently developed targeted therapeutics such as those that inhibit the actions of EGF-R family members like HER2, has become a major clinical issue. Almost always co-associated with the emergence of an aggressive and often highly metastatic cancer phenotype, drug resistance is intimately linked with cancer recurrence and in most cases precedes poor patient health, the escalation of disease progression ultimately leading to the death of the patient. A/prof John Price john.price@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Detecting the tissue of origin of circulating cell free DNA Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Clinical Pathology The aim of this project is to analyse sequence data on circulating cell free DNA to identify methylation patterns which indicate the tissue of origin. Professor Lachlan Coin lachlan.coin@unimelb.edu.au n/a Masters by Research
Developing a drug therapy for hearing loss Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department Hair cell loss is the leading cause of deafness, occurring in almost half a billion people worldwide. Despite the prevalence, there are no biological treatments available for deafness. The current standards of care are restricted to palliative devices including hearing aids or cochlear implants that provide only partial hearing restoration for a limited patient population. As such, there is a significant demand for the development of a pharmacological treatment for hearing loss. Dr Niki Gunewardene NGunewardene@bionicsinstitute.org A/Prof Andrew Wise n/a PhD students
Developing computational approaches to analyse development and disease Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Developing computational approaches to analyse development and disease Prof Melissa Little melissa.little@mcri.edu.au Dr Kynan Lawlor n/a PhD students
Developing epigenetic biomarkers to predict pregnancy disorders and guide clinical practice. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction and pre-term birth affect up to 10% of all pregnancies. There is strong evidence that these complications are caused by abnormal placental development the during the 1st trimester, long before symptoms develop. Preeclampsia is a severe multi system disorder whereby the mother develops hypertension and proteinuria before 20 weeks of pregnancy. By this time, the placenta is damaged and releases factors into the mother’s blood leading to widespread endothelial cell damage and the symptoms of preeclampsia. Women can develop early onset, late onset and term preeclampsia, all of which can have severe consequences for both mother and baby not just during pregnancy but also later in life. Alarmingly there are no non-invasive tests that can predict all women who will develop preeclampsia and few treatment options. This project will use an experimental and bioinformatics approach to identify which women may develop preeclampsia and use primary human and organoid models to determine the functional significance of predictive biomarkers of disease. This may lead to developing a predictive test for preeclampsia and much needed personalised treatment options. 2 2 Prof Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ellen Menkhorst Dr Wei Zhou n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Developing high content screens of novel treatments for congenital nephrotic syndrome Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Developing high content screens of novel treatments for congenital nephrotic syndrome Prof Melissa Little melissa.little@mcri.edu.au Dr Aude Dorison n/a PhD students
Developing nanoparticles for targeted theranostics delivery of drug and gene therapeutics Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Research in the Molecular Imaging and Theranostics lab focus on translational research that links the findings from basic science to the practical applications that enhance human health and well-being in clinical settings. Developing new bio-compatible nanoparticles that can be used for targeted delivery and localize the drugs/genetic therapy to the site of disease, thereby eliminating reduce side effects. 1 Dr Xiaowei Wang xiaoweiw@unimelb.edu.au Dr Laura Bienvenu n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Developing novel methods for the diagnosis of tree nut allergies Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics With the rapid rise in food allergy incidences, there is an urgent need to correctly identify food allergic sufferers. This project will focus on develop novel diagnostic techniques for tree nut allergy using large population cohorts. Dr Kirsten Perrett kirsten.perrett@mcri.edu.au Dr Thanh Dang n/a PhD students
Developing platelet derived nanoparticles for targeted thrombolysis Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and major morbidity worldwide. Despite this, the current thrombolytic (clot busting) therapies remain largely ineffective and many patients are resistant to therapy. There is a need for improved thrombolytic drugs and strategies for overcoming thrombolysis resistance. One strategy for achieving this is using targeted drug delivery to deliver high local concentrations of thrombolytic drugs to the thrombus to improve the efficacy of drug treatment. To achieve this, we are proposing using platelet derived nanoparticles loaded with thrombolytic drugs to achieve targeted thrombolysis. Prof Karlheinz Peter karlheinz.peter@unimelb.edu.au Dr Mitchell Moon n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Development and validation of a high throughput clinical lipidomics platform Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health This project will work to develop a Clinical Lipidomic Platform, which would measure several hundred different plasma lipids via LC/MS in a rapid and cost-effective manner, designed for clinical use. Professor Peter Meikle peter.meikle@baker.edu.au Dr Thomas Meikle n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Development of a low cost, point-of-care diagnostic platform Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine To develop a novel rapid, ultrasensitive real-time point of care platform targeting molecules in blood or saliva. This will be integrated on a single chip platform. Professor Patrick Kwan patrick.kwan@unimelb.edu.au Dr Jianxiong Chan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Development of malaria transmission blocking drugs. Royal Melbourne Hospital Infectious Diseases Our laboratory investigates the cellular mechanisms underpinning malaria parasite transmission and disease. We investigate the novel banana shaped sexual stages of Plasmodium falciparum, focused on understanding their unique biology and how this contributes to transmission. We are interested in developing and testing drugs and vaccines that may block transmission of the parasite from infected humans to Anopheles mosquitos. 1 1 Dr Matthew Dixon matthew.dixon@unimelb.edu.au Prof James McCarthy n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Development of Marrow Fat Quantification as a Predictor of Poor Outcomes in Osteosarcopenia Western Health Medicine The number of diagnostic methods for osteosarcopenia remains limited especially those with the reliability to predict poor outcomes in older persons.The aims of this project are to develop and validate a new potential diagnostic method for osteosarcopenia based on the fat volume within the bone marrow and muscles of humans (prospective study and retrospective analysis of images obtained in major human studies). Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Development of novel human stem cell derived models of beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration for disease modelling and drug screening Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Development of novel human stem cell derived models of beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration for disease modelling and drug screening A/Prof Paul Lockhart paul.lockhart@mcri.edu.au Prof Martin Delatycki n/a PhD students
Development of novel human stem cell derived models of beta-propeller protein-associated neurodegeneration for disease modelling and drug screening Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Beta-propeller Protein-Associated Neurodegeneration (BPAN) is a rare, X-linked neurological disorder characterised by intellectual disability, seizures and ataxia in early childhood. The condition progresses rapidly leading to development of Parkinsonism, dystonia and cognitive impairment in adolescence/early adulthood. Children affected by BPAN display brain iron accumulation at an early age, leading to classification of BPAN under a group of disorders known as neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA5). Prof Paul Lockhart paul.lockhart@mcri.edu.au Prof Martin Delatycki Dr Jay Shukla n/a PhD students
Development of novel point-of-care diagnostics tests and surveillance tools for malaria Burnet Institute Medicine There is an urgent need for diagnostic and surveillance tests that could be used in clinical settings and rural and remote communities. This project will work towards the development of novel semi-quantitative rapid tests for assessing malaria exposure and transmission in communities Prof James Beeson beeson@burnet.edu.au Assoc Prof David Anderson Dr Herbert Opi n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Development of novel vaccines against malaria Burnet Institute Medicine This project is suitable for a student with a keen interest in humoral and cellular immunology and vaccine development. Prof James Beeson beeson@burnet.edu.au Dr Gaoqian Feng n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Development of regenerative therapy for photoreceptor losses using cellular reprogramming technology Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery Photoreceptors are light-sensing cells that form the basis of our vision by converting light into electrical signals that can be decoded by the brain.  the loss of photoreceptors is a key hallmark of many blinding diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy.  These diseases affect millions of patients and cause a significant socis-economic burden on our healthcare system. Currently, there are no effective means to cure blindness once photoreceptors are lost.  We must therefore find a new approach to help restore vision to these patients.  Regenerative therapy to replace photoreceptors has the very real prospect of helping patients to restore vision. Dr Raymond Wong wongcb@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Diagnosis and therapy of inflammatory diseases using molecular ultrasound imaging Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health With steadily increasing health care expenses, a promising translational imaging application using ultrasound can fulfil the need for a cost-effective and non-invasive diagnostic tool. This project aims to investigate whether VCAM-1 targeted microbubbles will locate inflamed vessels using molecular ultrasound imaging, thereby providing a better diagnostic technology Dr Xiaowei Wang xiaoweiw@unimelb.edu.au Professor Karlheinz Peter n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Diet and Healthy Ageing Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine You will have the opportunity to work with a rich database with lifestyle data that spans over 20 years. This project will provide clinical skills experience as it involves direct hands-on participant evaluation, and will suit a student with an interest in nutrition who is interested in publishing findings. Professor Cassandra Szoeke healthy-ageing@unimelb.edu.au Dr Alexandra Gorelik Dr Monique Stagnitti n/a Masters by Research
Discovering genes for singing ability in Australian families Austin Health Medicine Using an innovative web-based singing program and the latest molecular genetic techniques, this project aims to discover singing ability genes through the first Australian study of large families with many talented singers. A/Professor Michael Hildebrand michael.hildebrand@unimelb.edu.au Professor Sarah Wilson Professor Gary McPherson Professor Sam Berkovic n/a PhD students
Discovering the mechanisms and targets of immunity against malaria Burnet Institute Medicine Conduct immunologic assays to understand the mechanisms of protective immunity to malaria and identify key targets. This knowledge will be use to inform vaccine development Prof James Beeson beeson@burnet.edu.au Dr Herbert Opi Dr Linda Reiling n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Discovery of new treatments for brain development disorders linked to epigenetic regulatory genes Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Discovery of new treatments for brain development disorders linked to epigenetic regulatory genes A/Prof Paul Lockhart paul.lockhart@mcri.edu.au Prof David Amor Dr Jordan Wright n/a PhD students
Disease detection and quantification with inertial sensors Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department People with movement disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s disease and dystonia) find it challenging to perform activities of daily living (such as getting dressed, eating, and drinking) that most take for granted. Fine motor skills are stifled by tremors, movement becomes strenuous due to increased muscle stiffness, and postural instability leads to falls. Evaluating these symptoms is crucial to managing therapy, seeking new interventions via clinical trials and understanding mechanism of disease through research. Existing assessment techniques rely on subjective methods such as surveys, patient diaries, and observation-based rating scales. This project will develop a medical device that allows us to overcome several limitations associated with subjective techniques. Dr Thushara Perera TPERERA@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Do short chain fatty acids prevent gut leakiness and enhanced haematopoiesis induced by a high salt diet? Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Our laboratory has discovered that a high salt diet promotes a breakdown of the intestinal barrier in the gut which causes activation of the immune system and changes within the bone marrow microenvironment, altering blood production. This project will explore the hypothesis that supplementation of butyrate, an anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acid, will prevent high salt diet-induced gut leakiness, immune cells activation and protect the bone marrow microenvironment from being destructed. This will allow for the retention of haematopoietic stem cells and normal blood production. This project will employ a variety of assays and experimental readouts to address this hypothesis and give the student a valuable insight into immune and stem cell biology within a highly successful world class research laboratory. Prof Andrew Murphy andrew.murphy@baker.edu.au Dr. Sam Lee n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Does epicardial adipose tissue contribute to atrial fibrillation in endurance athletes? Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Exercise has substantial health benefits with pleomorphic vascular, metabolic, psychological and anti-neoplastic actions resulting in improved quality of life and longevity. Despite these many benefits, numerous studies have shown that endurance athletes are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (AF) than non-athletes. The type, intensity and amount of sport appears to influence the risk of developing AF. Several endurance sport activities have been shown to increase the risk of developing AF but an excess in AF has not been shown in non-endurance sports. Furthermore, lifetime hours of participation appear to increase the risk of developing AF. Intriguingly, women appear relatively protected and an association between endurance sport and AF has not been clearly demonstrated amongst female endurance athletes. The mechanisms by which endurance sport promotes the development of AF are unclear. There are, however, a number of pathophysiological mechanisms which are known to increase the risk of AF in non-athletes which have correlates in athletes. This project will investigate the relationship between epicardial fat and atrial fibrillation in endurance trained athletes. 1 Dr Erin Howden erin.howden@baker.edu.au A/Prof Andre La Gerche n/a Honours students
Dose optimisation of antibiotics in children with cystic fibrosis Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics The aim of this project is to use pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modelling to optimise antibiotic dosing in children with cystic fibrosis. Dr Amanda Gwee amanda.gwee@rch.org.au Prof Sarath Ranganathan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Drug delivery to treat hearing loss Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department This project will focus on developing a treatment for hearing loss. We have recently made significant progress in the development of a nanoparticle-based drug delivery system that overcomes some of the barriers for drug delivery to the inner ear. The project will involve in vivo deafness models to characterise the drug delivery system, and to test its safety and efficacy in repairing hearing loss. 1 A/Prof Andrew Wise awise@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Drug development for metabolic diseases St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a central regulator of cellular energy metabolism that phosphorylates multiple protein targets to adapt cellular metabolism to energy and nutrient availability. AMPK dysregulation is associated with a range of prevalent metabolic diseases (e.g. type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease), thus huge efforts are being made to develop AMPK-targetting drugs. Our aim is to develop beta 2-specific AMPK activators to trigger AMPK signalling in these tissues without complications associated with off-target effects. A/Prof Jon Oakhill joakhill@svi.edu.au Prof Bruce Kemp Dr Chris Langendorf n/a PhD students
Dynamic microfluidic in vitro differentiation of stem cells for cartilage regeneration in surgical 3D bioprinting St Vincent's Hospital Surgery With this study we aim to characterize in vitro the characteristics of newly regenerated cartilage starting from 3D bioprinted stem cells once dynamically stimulated (using a diffusion bioreactor) with chondrogenic differentiation media. Dr Carmine Onofrillo carmine.onofrillo@unimelb.edu.au Dr Serena Duchi n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
EEG/ MEG network measures as a biomarker in pre-surgical planning for epilepsy patients St Vincent's Hospital Medicine In both neuroscience and neurology, there is a plethora of data that has not been quantitatively analysed.  One interesting way of analysing this `big data’ is to convert it into a functional network that is spatially sampled at different points.  This not only reduces the order of the data, but also provides a way of examining the internal structure of the data.  Using various network measures, this project aims to find a functional biomarker that indicates cortical hyper-excitability.  We can then use this to systematically analyse brain networks for pre-surgical planning for resective surgery in epilepsy patients. Dr Alan Lai alan.lai@unimelb.edu.au Dr Andre Peterson n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Effect of HMB and Vitamin D Supplementation on osteosarcoPenia In oldeR pErsons (EMPIRE) Western Health Medicine Unfortunately, advancing age may comprise musculoskeletal health, with osteoporosis (low bone mass) and sarcopenia (low muscle mass and function) two chronic diseases, which together form a geriatric syndrome, coined osteosarcopenia. This syndrome predisposes an older person to increased risk of falls and fractures, compared to either disease alone, and induces alarming health care costs. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ben Kirk n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Effective relationships in dementia community care: Promoting Independence though quality dementia care at home (the PITCH project). Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry This project focuses on developing a three-way triad tool (person with dementia, family carer, home care worker) to improve communication and relationships in community dementia care. This project will involve data collection in a RCT, developing the tool, and validity and reliability testing. Dr Anita Goh goha@unimelb.edu.au Professor Briony Dow Dr Steven Savvas n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Effects of Drugs on Cognition-Related Brain Wave Signals in the Rat Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine In this project, signals related to cognitiveprocessing, including gamma frequency oscillations and place cells will be recorded with microelectrodearrays. The effects of antipsychotic drugs and some related compounds, including potassium and sodiumchannel modulators, will be examined Dr Chris French frenchc@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Effects of Drugs on Cognition-Related Brain Wave Signals in the Rodents Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Dr Chris French frenchc@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Effects of Vitamin D Status on DEXA Femoral Neck BMD in Children and Adolescents Western Health Medicine Vitamin D deficiency is a well-established risk factor for femoral neck fracture in the elderly. Furthermore, the antecedents to the development of osteoporosis in later life typically occur across the lifespan. Lifestyle factors leading to decreased direct sun exposure together with increased skin pigmentation, are major risk factors for vitamin D deficiency. A/prof Christine Rodda christine.rodda@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Effects of Vitamin D Status on Forearm Fracture Healing Rates in Children and Adolescents: A Pilot Study Western Health Medicine The effect of Vitamin D deficiency on fracture healing rates in children and adolescents is currently unknown. This is a pilot study to investigate the use of pQCT in the evaluation of fracture healing rates, with or without vitamin D deficiency. A/Prof Christine Rodda christine.rodda@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Electrophysiological Properties of Human Brain Neuronal Tissue Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Dr Chris French frenchc@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
Elucidating molecular signalling pathways controlled by anti-inflammatory steroids Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine In this project you will use genome-wide approaches such as microarray to indentify the genes that are regulated by glucocorticoids. Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Elucidating molecular signalling pathways controlled by anti-inflammatory steroids Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Steroids (glucocorticoids) are widely used to treat the chronic inflammation and pain associated with many diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, there are side effects associated with usage of glucocorticoids in such diseases. Our previous genomic experiments have provided a number of exciting candidate genes that may be involved in inflammatory functions. In this project you will investigate molecular signalling pathways that lead to activation of transcription factors that lead to differential expression of glucocorticoid-controlled genes in inflammatory conditions. Enhancing our understanding of molecular signalling pathways that are governed by glucocorticoids may lead to improved clinical therapies with minimal side effects. 1 2 Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Elucidating the functional roles of CCL17 in obesity-associated osteoarthritis Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic musculoskeletal condition that has many associated risk factors with one of them being obesity. This PhD project will explore molecular factors that contribute to obesity-associated OA. Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au Dr Kevin Lee Prof John Hamilton n/a PhD students
Enabling Treatment Trials of Atrophic Age-Related Macular Degeneration Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery Although treatments currently exist for the acute, neovascular complications of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), individuals that develop atrophic complications currently face an inevitable future of progressive central vision loss since no effective treatments are available to prevent or slow the unrelenting degeneration of the retina. Although many clinical trials are now underway for atrophic AMD, a significant barrier to their success is the lack of precise clinical measures to determine their efficacy. Dr Zhichao Wu wu.z@unimelb.edu.au Prof Robyn Guymer n/a PhD students
Engineering a tissue flap St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Surgery We have assembled pre-vascularized scaffolds in the laboratory, by seeding human induced pluripotent stem cell derived endothelial cells (iPSC ECs) into a porous scaffold, with the formation of an interconnected human capillary network within 24 hours. When implanted in vivo into a wound this pre-vascularized scaffold survives and connects to the host blood circulation. We have also successfully connected this human capillary network to a large artery and vein in an animal model thereby establishing the basis of a tissue flap – large vessels connected to a capillary network. This project will progress our hiPSC flap tissue with the addition of muscle tissue, and or fat tissue and/or skin tissue, largely developed from hiPSC. Dr Geraldine Mitchell gmitchell@svi.edu.au Dr Anne Kong n/a PhD students
Enteric Neuropathy as a Target to Alleviate Gastrointestinal Side-effects of Chemotherapy Western Health Medicine Chemotherapy is given to most cancer patients before or after surgery. Diarrhoea, constipation, oral mucositis, nausea and vomiting are experienced by 80-90% of patients as gastrointestinal (GI) side-effects of chemotherapeutic medications. As a result, patients often develop malnutrition and dehydration. Early death rates of up to 5% associated with chemotherapy are primarily due to GI toxicity. A/prof Kulmira Nurgali kulmira.nurgali@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Evaluating the use, impact and ongoing sustainability of maternal and newborn health training programs in LMIC of immediate newborn care programs in the Asia-Pacific region This project will allow the student to gain experience in global maternal and perinatal health epidemiology, systematic review and quantitative analysis methodologies, with a view to a scientific publication and pursuing a PhD. Prof Caroline Homer caroline.homer@burnet.edu.au Dr Joshua Vogel Dr Michelle Scoullar n/a Masters by Research
Evidence-Based Practice in the Management of Glaucoma Suspects Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery One in ten Australians over 50 years old are considered glaucoma suspects and are at risk of developing irreversible vision loss. This project aims to synthesise and critically appraise current evidence related to the clinical management of glaucoma suspects, in order to provide evidence-based guidance and identify key knowledge gaps to address in prospective studies. Dr Zhichao Wu wu.z@unimelb.edu.au A/Prof Laura Downie n/a PhD students
Exploring data from ENROLL-HD - an international observational study in Huntington’s disease Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Enroll-HD is a worldwide observational study for Huntington’s disease families, which monitors how the disease appears and changes over time in different people, and is open to people who either have HD or are at-risk. There are more than 23,000 participants that have been enrolled into Enroll-HD and over 1 million aliquots of DNA, lymphoblastoid cell lines and PBMCs that are available for research. This project involves data mining of the latest periodic dataset release. Dr Anita Goh goha@unimelb.edu.au Professor Dennis Velakoulis Dr Samantha Loi n/a Masters by Research
Exploring how a high salt diet promotes bone destruction through immune cell activation Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Diets rich in salt have been linked to bone pathologies. This has generally been attributed to mineral exchange, causing weaker bones. However, our group hypothesized that this process is biologically driven. We have made initial discoveries to show that specific immune cells are produced and activated by a high salt diet that is linked with bone destruction. This project will focus on the novel mechanisms contributing to this discovery. Specifically, this project will determine how the immune cells interact and activate osteoclasts within the bone and will explore where these immune cells are first activated. We anticipate these findings being important across several age groups and will explore ways to offset these detrimental effects of high salt intake. The student will be exposed to a world class research environment and cutting-edge techniques, with excellent supervision. Techniques will include flow cytometry, sectioning of tissues (including bones), immunofluorescence, micro CT and multiphoton microscopy. Prof Andrew Murphy andrew.murphy@baker.edu.au Dr. Sam Lee n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Exploring how diabetes causes increased proliferation of haematopoietic stem cells carrying a mutation in DNMT3A Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Clonal haematopoiesis of indeterminant potential (CHIP), caused by somatic mutations in haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) causes a growth advantage in these cells causing them to outcompete non-mutated HSCs. CHIP was commonly thought to be a prerequisite to leukaemia, the disease ultimately responsible for death in these individuals. However, it was recently shown that people with CHIP more frequently die of cardiovascular disease. Interestingly, there is an association with CHIP and diabetes, but this has not been explored experimentally. We discovered that diabetes enhances the proliferation of HSCs carrying the most common mutation in CHIP (DNMT3A). This project will explore mechanism behind this using a variety of unique animal models and experimental techniques. This project will give the student a valuable insight into stem cell biology within a highly successful world class research laboratory. Prof Andrew Murphy andrew.murphy@baker.edu.au Dr. Dragana Dragoljevic n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Exploring innate immune memory Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Medicine Immune memory is a defining feature of the adaptive immune system, but activation of the innate immune system can also result in heightened responses to re-challenge. This adaptation has been termed “trained immunity”, a de facto form of innate immune memory. Studies over the past few years have pointed to the broad benefits of trained immunity for host defence but have also suggested detrimental outcomes in chronic inflammatory disease, such as atherosclerosis. By inducing metabolic and epigenetic changes in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), trained immunity drives myeloid cell expansion and the sustained generation of monocytes with a “proinflammatory” phenotype. 1 Dr Andrew Fleetwood andrew.fleetwood@baker.edu.au Prof Andrew Murphy n/a Honours students
Exploring the effect of neural dead regions in the cochlea on hearing with a cochlear implant Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department Neural dead regions in the cochlea are regions of the cochlea in a deaf person where there is poor survival of auditory nerve cells. Such regions are not suitable for electrical stimulation with a cochlear implant, but are difficult to identify. The presence of these regions is one main reason that some cochlear implant users do not understand speech well. This project, undertaken with cochlear implant users, will develop an objective method for identifying these dead regions in individuals. 1 Prof Colette McKay cmckay@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Exploring the effects of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination on diversity of circulating genotypes Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Human papillomavirus (HPV) infects 80% of sexually active people at least once in their lives. The virus causes several types of cancer in humans, including cervical cancer which causes over 570,000 new cases and 311,000 deaths annually, worldwide. HPV vaccination was introduced in 2007 and has led to dramatic reduction in circulating infections and related disease among vaccine eligible populations Our research group, located at the Royal Women’s Hospital, leads a number of HPV projects including 1) epidemiological studies of HPV vaccine impact and evaluation, 2) development of analytically sensitive diagnostic tests, 3) identification of new biomarkers for disease progression, and 4) understanding of molecular mechanisms of HPV-associated cancer. The prospective student will use a combination of molecular biology (nucleic acid extraction, conventional PCR, real time PCR, digital PCR, gene cloning, and sequencing) and epidemiological techniques to explore the effects of HPV vaccination on viral genotypes circulating in Australia using a unique clinical sample library collected pre- and post-HPV vaccination over the past 15 years. 1 1 Dr Reza Haqshenas reza.haqshenas@unimelb.edu.au Dr Gerald Murray Dr Dorothy Machalek n/a Masters by Research; Honours students
Exploring the genetic basis of brain alterations in schizophrenia Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry This project will build on state-of-the-art bioinformatics methods to identify gene-brain-behaviour relationships in schizophrenia. Dr Maria Di Biase dibiasem@unimelb.edu.au AProf Andrew Zalesky n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Exploring the therapeutic potential of protein phosphatases in cardiometabolic disease Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Heart failure is a debilitating condition in which the ability of the heart to meet the body's demands for oxygenated blood is compromised. Prognosis is poor, with approximately 50 per cent of patients with heart failure dying within 5 years of diagnosis. There is a clear need for new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of heart failure. This project will explore the role of a family of proteins known as ‘protein phosphatases’ in the development of heart failure, and whether phosphatases can be selectively targeted to improve outcome in mouse models of heart failure. 1 1 Dr Kate Weeks kate.weeks@baker.edu.au n/a Masters by Research; Honours students
Expression systems for pluripotent stem cells and their differentiated derivatives Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics This project involves the design and development of gene expression systems that can be used to controllably regulate transgene expression in cells derived from pluripotent stem cells. Professor Ed Stanley ed.stanley@mcri.edu.au Professor Andrew Elefanty n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Factors that determine islet antigen-specific T cell expansion before the onset of Type 1 diabetes St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine Our goal is to prevent the cytotoxic CD8+ T cell-mediated destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells that leads to type 1 diabetes. Islet-specific CD8+ T cells appear in cycles in the blood reflecting waves of clonal proliferation, they expand just before diagnosis of diabetes and their quantity in the islets reflects the extent of pathology. Prof Helen Thomas hthomas@svi.edu.au Dr Bala Krishnamurthy n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Ferroptosis in Schizophrenia Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health Psychiatry Schizophrenia is a debilitating mental illness that disrupts the functioning of the mind, with onset typically occurring in young adulthood. Impairments in certain cognitive functions, such as working memory, are core features of Sz, which are not addressed for existing drug targets. Our general hypothesis is that schizophrenia is a complex disease resulting from a loss-of-function of key pathways that govern neurodevelopment, neurotransmission, intracellular redox state and synaptic connectivity. Our data indicate that iron is elevated in the orbitofrontal cortex in post mortem brain samples from individuals with schizophrenia relative to age- and sex-matched controls. We propose that a rise of cytosolic iron is upstream of key lesions associated with negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia, including neuronal development (e.g., parvalbumin-interneurons and synaptic pruning), neurotransmission (e.g., GABAergic and glutamatergic pathways), as well as iron homeostasis, antioxidant defence (e.g., haem oxygenases), and ferroptosis (e.g., an iron-dependent pathway for lipid peroxidation recently associated with loss of parvalbumin-interneurons). The project aims to investigate the status of proteins involved in iron metabolim as well as levels of markers of oxidative stress. 1 2 Professor Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Professor Ashley Bush Dr Carlos Opazo n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Fertility decision tools for young women with breast cancer Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology “As hard as the cancer treatment was, losing my fertility was the hardest thing” Dr Michelle Peate mpeate@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Fertility preservation in children with cancer Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Obstetrics and Gynaecology One in 900 children is a cancer survivor. Cancer treatment can significantly affect future fertility. Dr Yasmin Jayasinghe yasmin.jayasinghe@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Finding a cure for a devastating form of epilepsy Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Epilepsy is a devastating disease with no cure for most. We have engineered a genetic mouse model based on a human mutation to better understand the disease and develop new therapeutic strategies. A/Prof Christopher Reid christopher.reid@florey.edu.au Dr Paulo Pinares-Garcia n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Finding a needle in the haystack: ctDNA detection for tracking cancer evolution and refining cancer risk Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Clinical Pathology This project will explore the correlation between ctDNA and somatic mutation status derived from formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue. This will involve micro-dissecting normal colonic epithelium and tumour region that will then be profiled using next generation sequencing techniques. The project will also explore the correlation between immune indices determined from the blood and the quantity of ctDNA. Associate Professor Daniel Buchanan daniel.buchanan@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ryan Hutchinson Dr Mark Clendenning n/a Masters by Research
Function and cryo-EM structure of the breast cancer predisposition gene BRCA1 St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine The Genome Stability Unit at St Vincent’s Institute seek an honours or PhD student to join their multidisciplinary team, to uncover the molecular level details of the BRCA1 protein. BRCA1 contributes to the majority of known familial breast cancer risk in women by promoting DNA repair, a process critical to suppression of aging and cancer. A/Prof Andrew Deans adeans@svi.edu.au Dr Rohan Bythell-Douglas n/a PhD students
Functional role of VEZT over expression in endometrium Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology VEZT is the first protein coding gene that can be directly linked to increased susceptibility for endometriosis. At a population level, SNPs associated with an increased risk for endometriosis are also associated with increased VEZT expression in the endometrium. To date, it is unclear what functional role VEZT has in the development or progression of endometriosis. To generate new knowledge about VEZT and endometriosis, we have developed a novel mouse model that conditionally over-expresses VEZT ubiquitously including the reproductive system. Our primary aim is to characterise the impact increased expression VEZT has on fertility as well as endometrial lesion formation. This project will include working with an animal model of endometriosis, protein and molecular studies. 1 1 Dr Jacqueline Donoghue jacqueline.donoghue@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Future Health Today - health informatics Western Health General Practice This project will centre around the use of electronic medical records (EMR) for clinical trials as part of the larger FHT program. Associate Professor Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis jomn@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
Future Health Today Changing the course of cardiovascular disease Western Health General Practice This project will involve the development and implementation of a cardiovascular disease quality improvement platform as part of the larger Future Health Today program. Associate Professor Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis jomn@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
Gene regulation in the developing retina and the childhood eye cancer retinoblastoma Royal Melbourne Hospital,Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) Paediatrics Retinoblastoma is the most common eye cancer of infancy and childhood; these tumours are considered to be developmental in origin. The seven cell types of the retina all derive from a pool of retinal progenitor cells (RPC). The distalless (DLX) family of evolutionarily-conserved homeobox genes encode transcription factors expressed in the developing and mature retina as well as the majority of retinoblastoma tumours examined to date. The DLX transcription factors are necessary for retinal ganglion cell (RGC) development, in part due to direct regulation of other transcription factors that are either activated or repressed during eye development. The student will undertake RNAseq and ChIPseq studies in the developing mouse retina to identify DLX2 gene regulatory networks, validate in transgenic mouse models available in the laboratory and assess expression of these DLX2 targets in retinoblastoma and/or retinal organoids. The student will also contribute to the generation of a conditional, retina-specific knockout of Dlx2 or both Dlx1/Dlx2 in the developing and/or postnatal mouse. The student will learn key methods in molecular, cell and developmental biology, including primary cell culture, 3D organoids, and advanced microscopy skills. The student should preferably have an undergraduate or advanced background in cell, developmental and/or molecular biology. Prof David Eisenstat david.eisenstat@mcri.edu.au Dr Maree Faux n/a PhD students
Gene signatures of the ‘lymphaticome’ St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Surgery We would like to gain an understanding of the genetic signatures of the “lymphaticome”. This information will allow for a greater understanding of the lymphatic system and diseases relating to it and provide an avenue to develop organ specific therapeutics. Dr Tara Karnezis tkarnezis@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Generation of an ex vivo regeneration model for 3D bioprinting applications St Vincent's Hospital Surgery The goal of our research is to prevent the onset of OA by regenerating cartilage using a unique 3D printing technology, that requires multiple iteration steps to select the optimal bioink to efficiently regenerate cartilage.New models for evaluating cartilage repair/regeneration are of great value for transferring various culture systems into clinically relevant situations. The repair process can be better monitored in ex vivo systems than in in vitro cell cultures. The aim of this project is to establish an ex vivo osteochondral model prepared from human articular cartilage harvest. Dr Carmine Onofrillo carmine.onofrillo@unimelb.edu.au Dr Serena Duchi n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Genetic Diagnosis of Children with Vascular Anomalies for a Therapeutic Clinical Drug Trial Austin Health Medicine Our understanding of the genetics of vascular anomalies is rapidly advancing but remains incompletely understood. This project provides the opportunity to work in an established multidisciplinary clinical and laboratory research team with clinical trial expertise. In addition to clinical experience and laboratory techniques, the development of project management, sample coordination and communication skills will be fostered. 1 A/Professor Michael Hildebrand michael.h n/a Honours students
Genetics of childhood hearing loss Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Genetics of childhood hearing loss Dr Valerie Sung valerie.sung@rch.org.au Prof David Amor n/a PhD students
Genome-wide expression profiling of keratoconus and non-keratoconus corneas Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery Keratoconus is a potentially blinding eye disease of the cornea. Typically, it occurs in childhood and various intervention measures are currently used to slow its progression but there is no cure. While its aetiology is due to genes and environment, the involvement of these factors is still poorly understood. In this proposal we will greatly advance our understanding of disease through genetic analysis of this disease. 1 Dr Srujana Sahebjada Srujana.sahebjada@unimelb.edu.au A/Prof Mark Daniel Prof Paul Baird n/a Masters by Research
Genomics of asthma mortality due to thunderstorm asthma Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Thunderstorm asthma is a global phenomenon with Melbourne Australia having the most frequent reports and severe episodes. The episode on 21st November 2016 was the most severe ever recorded and included 10 asthma fatalities. We have (following ethics approval and informed consent from families) obtained samples from 9 of those who died on that night. This project is to explore the genomics of thunderstorm asthma fatalities. 1 Prof Jo Douglass jdouglass@unimelb.edu.au Dr Vanessa Bryant n/a PhD students; Honours students
Genotype and Phenotype Characterisation Human Circulating Osteo-Progenitor (COP) Cells Western Health Medicine COP (circulating osteogenic progenitor cells) is a term referring to circulating bone marrow-derived progenitor stem cells, which are able to participate in bone formation such as bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and endothelial progenitor cells (EPC). The origin and function of COP cells remain unknown. However, some studies have reported that COP cells are recruited from bone marrow and perivascular niche to fracture sites in order to enhance healing. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies in Papua New Guinea – The impact of nutrition, malaria, and other infections on pregnant women and infants Burnet Institute Medicine In resource-poor regions globally, pregnant women experience high rates of malaria, under-nutrition, and viral and bacterial infections, which can lead to maternal morbidity and mortality and low birth weight in infants, which results in a large number of infant deaths each year. The objective of this project is to determine the major preventable causes of poor maternal health and low birth weight to enable the development of future interventions to improve health and pregnancy outcomes. This project is offered as a laboratory or epidemiological project, or a combination of the two depending on student interests Prof James Beeson beeson@burnet.edu.au Dr Michelle Scoullar n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Hearing but not listening: Using behavioural training in pre-clinical studies to test the ability to listen to complex sounds Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department Behavioural training of animals allows the testing of perception of complex sounds. When applied to animals with cochlear implants or treated with hearing therapeutics, this provides important information on the performance of the intervention. This can provide more clinically relevant information than is obtained with traditional functional measurements or from histology. This added information is important, as many treatments or stimulation techniques look promising in pre-clinical models but fail in the clinic. Using behavioural training, we aim to reduce the gap between pre-clinical and clinical studies. A/Prof James Fallon JFALLON@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Heart Health in Women: Role of Physical Activity to Prevent Cardiovascular Disease Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Gender plays a major role in modulating the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Yet, women are underrepresented in clinical trials that aim to prevent heart disease, and outcomes are rarely specified in sex-specific terms. Physical activity levels play a key role in preventing the development of many chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. In a broader context, physical activity levels in women could produce different long-term CVD outcomes to men. Our group has extensively studied female athletes and physiological remodelling in response to lifetime exercise training. Extending work into physical activity rates and physiological response in a population-based cohort would enable our work to extend beyond physiological mechanism, to a translatable population-based approach. Our research has two separate aims: • Gender-specific risk factors (e.g disorders of pregnancy, high parity) accelerate CVD development in women. We aim to determine how physical activity acts as a modifier for CVD events after a pregnancy-based event. • Vigorous exercise produces a pronounced central and peripheral physiological adaptations. Female gender may have a protective effect during vigorous exercise. Dr Erin Howden erin.howden@baker.edu.au Dr Leah Wright A/Prof Andre La Gerche n/a PhD students
Heterogeneity of treatment response in advanced cancer: role of intrinsic and microenvironmental factors Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Clinical Pathology This project aims to identify and characterise the contribution of tumour-intrinsic and microenvironmental factors in driving the drug resistance of aggressive cancer cell subsets. The project uses tumour organoids derived from colorectal and pancreatic cancer patients. AProfessor Frederic Hollande frederic.hollande@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
High Dimensional Immune and Epigenetic Profiling of Children with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) Royal Melbourne Hospital,Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) Paediatrics Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is an autoimmune rheumatic disease that is one of the leading causes of childhood disability, affecting around 6000 Australian children. It typically causes joint pain and inflammation in the hands, knees, ankles, elbows and/or wrists. Despite its relatively high incidence, the molecular and cellular changes associated with JIA remain poorly understood. We hypothesise that blood cells (e.g. T cells, monocytes and B cells) from JIA patients will show differences in cellular proportions, responses to activation in culture, and have a distinct molecular profiles relative to controls. We will test this in the current project by applying state-of-the-art immunology and molecular genomic sequencing techniques to circulating blood cells from JIA patients and matched controls as part of our CLARITY (Childhood Arthritis Risk factor Identification Study) biobank which is one of the largest, most biospecimen- and information-dense collections in the world. Prof Richard Saffery richard.saffery@mcri.edu.au Dr Boris Novakovic A/Prof Jane Munro n/a PhD students
How are autophagic processes involved in bone mineralisation? St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine Our recent discoveries indicate that intracellular vesicles, including autophagy (intracellular recycling), are involved in mineral secretion by osteoblasts and osteocytes. We have carried out RNA-sequencing in bones from mice with brittle bones, and found changes in a range of autophagic genes. This provides new information about the way that cells in the skeleton control bone composition. Prof Natalie Sims nsims@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students
How do Anti-Epileptic Drugs Work? Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Dr Chris French frenchc@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
How do bone marrow microenvironments regulate B lymphocyte production? St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine B lymphocytes, which are essential in eliminating pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, decline during aging, in part due to a reduced bone marrow microenvironment (the factory for B lymphocyte production). The changes that occur in the B lymphocyte factory that cause this decline are unclear and will be investigated in this project. 1 1 Professor Louise Purton lpurton@svi.edu.au Dr Gavin Tjin Ms Diannita Kwang n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
How do we improve the knowledge and skills of midwives and doctors in assessment and classification of perineal tears? Burnet Institute This project will involve a systematic review to examine initiatives undertaken to educate and train midwives and doctors in perineal anatomy and classification of perineal tears. Dr Alyce Wilson alyce.wilson@burnet.edu.au Prof Caroline Homer Dr Joshua Vogel Dr Meghan Bohren n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
How trauma shapes empathy and resilience in bipolar disorder Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry We are seeking an enthusiastic and academically high-performing student to be involved in an honours project investigating how subjective ratings of trauma relate to ones empathy and resilience in bipolar disorder. Dr Tamsyn Van Rheenen tamsyn.van@unimelb.edu.au n/a Honours students
Identification and Characterisation of Molecular Mediators of Cancer Metastasis Western Health Medicine Cancer accounts for 1/3 of all Australian deaths and is a major social and economic burden. The prime feature of treatment failure as well as the cause of majority of death in cancer patients is due to the spread of the cancer to other sites within the body, a process termed metastasis A/prof John Price john.price@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Identification of additional markers of ferroptosis with mass spectrometry Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Interrogate the role of ether lipids (with antioxidant properties) in ferroptosis and their potential to mediate and regulate the process in various biological settings. 1 1 Professor Peter Meikle peter.meikle@baker.edu.au Dr Kevin Huynh n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Identification of biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis human papillomavirus associated cancer Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause a number of cancers, including cervical and anal cancer. The mechanisms by which an HPV infection progresses to cancer remain to be fully understood. Our research group, located at the Royal Women’s Hospital, leads a number of HPV projects on the epidemiology and molecular biology of HPV-related disease. The project on offer will involve the analysis of lesion biopsies to learn more about the development of cancer and identify new molecular targets for diagnosis. The candidate will perform techniques including the novel application of a powerful sample preparation method, laser cut microdissection, as well as molecular methods including PCR, sequencing, and methylation analysis. 1 1 DR Gerald Murray gerald.murray@unimelb.edu.au Dr Monica Molano Dr Dorothy Machalek n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Identifying better therapies for patients with myelodysplastic syndromes. St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine In this project you will determine the effects of potential therapies for a pre-leukaemic disease called myelodysplastic syndromes. You will learn different techniques including flow cytometry, cell culture, drug studies and develop an understanding of blood cell production and blood-forming stem cells. Professor Louise Purton lpurton@svi.edu.au Dr Jessica Holien n/a Masters by Research
Identifying state and trait components of sensory and motor disturbances across the schizophrenia spectrum Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Sensorimotor dysfunction is frequently observed in people with schizophrenia as well as their unaffected relatives, which has led to proposals that these disturbances represent a vulnerability (or trait feature) of the disorder. However, there are reports that sensorimotor signs may also represent state features. This study will examine the heterogeneity of sensorimotor dysfunction across the schizophrenia-spectrum by identifying unique and causal links between specific sensorimotor signs and trait and state features of psychotic illness. 1 1 Dr Vanessa Cropley vcropley@unimelb.edu.au n/a Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Identifying targets and mechanisms of acquired immunity to severe malaria in children Burnet Institute Medicine This project aims to identify immune responses that protect against severe malaria in young children. It will involve testing samples from young children in specific immunologic assays Prof James Beeson beeson@burnet.edu.au Dr JoAnne Chan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Identifying the genetic causes of brain malformation in children Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Identifying the genetic causes of brain malformation in children A/Prof Paul Lockhart paul.lockhart@mcri.edu.au Prof Richard Leventer n/a PhD students
Imaging genetics in psychiatry Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Conduct research at the interface of genetics, neuroscience and psychiatry using cutting-edge computational methods and neuroimaging techniques Dr Maria Di Biase maria.dibiase@unimelb.edu.au Associate Professor Andrew Zalesky n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Imaging life events in acute conversion disorder Austin Health Psychiatry A neuroimaging study of the impact of triggering life events in acute presentations of conversion disorder/FND Professor Richard Kanaan richard.kanaan@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
Imaging the brain circuits required for new learning Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health Medicine Learning associations between actions and their outcomes is a fundamental cognitive ability that requires the interaction of neural systems mediating cognitive and emotional functions. This learning is critical for normal decision-making, which is central to healthy cognitive functioning and wellbeing. While it is known this learning relies on a neural circuit involving the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and dorsal striatum, the nature of how this circuit changes with learning is poorly understood. This project aims to investigate this circuit in mice, with cutting-edge in vivo cellular activity recording techniques as animals learn associations in a touchscreen chamber. Components of the circuit will be disrupted with genetically encoded inhibition tools to allow us to see how this critical circuit leads to learning and healthy decision-making. 1 1 Dr Simon Fisher simon.fisher@florey.edu.au Associate Professor Jess Nithianantharajah n/a Masters by Research; Honours students
Immune mechanisms of peanut allergy remission Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Immune mechanisms of peanut allergy remission Prof Mimi Tang mimi.tang@rch.org.au Dr Sarah Ashley n/a PhD students
Immunity, Chronic Inflammation and Cardiovascular Disease Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Our research focuses on understanding the immunological mechanisms that drive inflammation in cardiovascular diseases. In doing so, we aim to facilitate the development and implementation of effective anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating therapies for patients with cardiovascular disease. Professor Karlheinz Peter karlheinz.peter@unimelb.edu.au Dr Jonathan Noonan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Immunoregulatory effects of Vitamin D supplementation on the development of allergy in the first year of life Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics The rise in food allergy in developed countries is well documented. Early life determinants are thought to be key given the increase is most pronounced in children under 5 years of age. We have shown that low vitamin D at birth or during infancy is associated with an increased risk of food allergy and eczema and the prevalence of these diseases is higher the further away from the equator a person resides. Low vitamin D may play a role in aberrant immune development in early life and increase the risk of developing food allergy and eczema. VITALITY (n=2739, recruitment near completion) is a randomised placebo-controlled trial aiming to determine if vitamin D supplementation in the first year of life leads to a reduction in food allergy. VITALITY has an internationally unique comprehensive set of data variables from infants and families through questionnaires and clinic visits including oral food challenged confirmed food allergy, eczema and matched biological samples (plasma, PBMCs, granulocytes) from 2 to 12 months of age. Prof Richard Saffery richard.saffery@mcri.edu.au A/Prof Kirsten Perrett Dr Melanie Neeland n/a PhD students
Impedance triggered therapeutic intervention after cochlear implantation Surgery, Otolaryngology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery We are pioneering the use of intra-operative monitoring of hearing function during cochlear implantation to actively preserve this function in theatre. However, even after an atraumatic surgery, many patients lose their residual hearing function in the following weeks. The loss of this hearing is often accompanied by a sudden, drastic increase in the electrical impedance of the implant. The purpose of this project is to test whether the monitoring of electrical impedances can be used to trigger a therapeutic intervention to prevent subsequent hearing loss. 1 Dr Christofer Bester christofer.bester@unimelb.edu.au Prof Stephen O'Leary Dr AAron Collins n/a PhD students
Implementation considerations for a national program for expanded reproductive carrier screening Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics The PhD student will take responsibility for a mixed-methods, longitudinal analysis of the Mackenzie's Mission reproductive genetic carrier screening program with a focus on implementation from the perspective of couples. This will include intrinsic and extrinsic influences on couples’ decision-making about screening and about future reproductive choices.  Dr Alison Archibald alison.archibald@vcgs.org.au Dr Belinda McClaren Dr Stephanie Best n/a PhD students
Implementation of a Virtual Reality sensory room in a sub-acute ward for people living with dementia with behaviours and psychological symptoms associated with dementia (BPSD) Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry A virtual reality dementia sensory room (VR sensory room) will be installed at Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Park Campus in AC4’s 7 bed wing, designed for patients with dementia. This research project focuses on developing and evaluating a clear, co-designed implementation strategy to enable the patients living with dementia to benefit from using this VR sensory room. Dr Anita Goh goha@unimelb.edu.au Professor Kwang Lim Rose Goonan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
IMpleMenting Effective infection prevention and control in ReSidential aged carE (IMMERSE) Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Older people living in aged care homes are susceptible to infections such as influenza. Our aim is to protect their health by promoting a strong focus on infection prevention and control (IPC). We will investigate gaps in IPC procedures such as how staff training is provided, how residents participate in IPC, and gaps in staff IPC practice, and identify solutions to address gaps. We will upskill IPC leads to drive change and co-design a community of practice that enables IPC leads to share knowledge, experiences, and resources.

PhD Scholarship Opportunity: The PhD candidate will work with the project team to investigate the features of community of practice among nurse IPC leads that improve infection control practices in residential aged care facilities.
Professor Jill Francis jillian.francis@unimelb.edu.au Professor Wen Kwang Lim n/a PhD students
Implementing the Gait and Balance Gym and the Effect on Falls and Falls Risk Factors Virtual-reality balance training has recently gained prominence, particularly with the use of systems such as the Nintendo Wii. Our clinic makes use of the Balance Rehabilitation Unit (BRU) by Medicaa, a virtual-reality system which is valid and reliable in the assessment and training of static balance. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Improve the diagnostic prediction of imaging measures in dementia and epilepsy Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The aim of this study is to study the impact of neuroimaging tools driven by machine learning on clinical diagnosis in dementia and epilepsy . Dr Vijay Venkatraman vijay.venkatraman@unimelb.edu.au Prof Roland Bammer Dr Chris Steward n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Improved early diagnosis of eye diseases by integration of retinal photography and artificial intelligence to build an opportunistic screening service in metro, regional and remote primary care settings Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery This study is to understand the needs, develop the prototype and evaluate the usability of a AI-based Do-it-Yourself(DIY) fundus image system, in real-world clinical setting of GP and endocrinology clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services. Professor Mingguang He mingguang.he@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Improving lifetime outcomes for babies in special care nurseries Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Improving lifetime outcomes for babies in special care nurseries Prof Melissa Wake melissa.wake@mcri.edu.au Dr Jing Wang Prof Jeanie Cheong n/a PhD students
Improving speech understanding of cochlear implant users with neural dead regions Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department Many cochlear implant users do not understand speech very well. One reason for this is the presence of neural ‘dead regions’ in the cochlea. These dead regions affect speech understanding by making it difficult for each component frequency in a speech signal to be independently heard. Thus, implant users experience a ‘scrambled’ speech signal. In this project, conducted with adult cochlear implant users, we will use a psychophysical method to determine which parts of the cochlear contain neural dead regions in each individual. 1 Prof Colette McKay cmckay@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Improving women’s knowledge of modifiable cardiovascular risk factors following the diagnosis of a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy. Austin Health Obstetrics and Gynaecology Women diagnosed with gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia have double the risk of developing cardiovascular dysfunction over the ensuing 15-year period. This presents an excellent public health and preventative care opportunity for maternity and primary care providers to deliver targeted education to a high-risk population relating to modifiable risk factors for disease prevention, and the need for ongoing screening for cardiovascular disease following a hypertensive diagnosis during a pregnancy. It has been identified that the future implications of a diagnosis of gestational hypertension or pre-eclampsia are not well communicated to women. Out of Australia’s 20 major maternity hospitals, 19 of them do not currently publish patient information outlining the increased health risks for this cohort of women. Therefore, a need exists to fill this gap in the health education of this high-risk cardiovascular cohort. 1 Dr Anthea Lindquist anthea.lindquist@unimelb.edu.au Dr Roxanne Hastie Dr Stephanie Potenza n/a Master of Biomedical Science
In vitro brain tumour model – studying epileptic seizure development and sensitivity to anti-cancer therapy Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine .The project has two aims – to examine the effects of conventional and novel treatments on the tumours aswell as the development of e Dr Chris French frenchc@unimelb.edu.au Dr Rod Luwor n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Inequities in children’s mental health: evidence to inform precision policy responses Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics The project will use a mixed-methods approach to investigate how evidence related to the modifiable social determinants of inequities in children’s mental and developmental health can inform policy decision making and action. The project will involve quantitative analysis of existing data and interviews with stakeholders. Professor Sharon Goldfeld sharon.goldfeld@rch.org.au Associate Professor Susan Woolfenden Dr Sarah Gray n/a PhD students
Infertility in women and embryo implantation failure: identifying mechanistic insights using new genetic human technologies Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Embryo implantation failure is a significant bottleneck for IVF treatment and a major reason for infertility in women. Currently there are no treatments for implantation failure. Embryo implantation requires an adequately endometrium to allow embryos to firmly adhere to initiate and establish pregnancy. There is no non-invasive method established to diagnose a receptive endometrium before embryo transfer. Human endometrial organoids have recently been established and pilot studies demonstrate that organoids recapitulate the histological phenotype of the tissue they are isolated from (for instance endometrial cancer). We have established a 3D human endometrial organoid culture system and will use these to investigate why women may be infertile. Identification of the mechanisms why women are infertile which is the first step to developing treatments for implantation failure and resultant infertility. 2 2 Prof Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au Dr Wei Zhou Dr Ellen Menkhorst n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Inflammation-induced Cancer: Mechanisms and Novel Treatments Western Health Medicine Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most commonly reported cancer in Australia. It accounts for over 1.4 million reports with over 700,000 deaths globally. Chronic inflammation has been considered a direct link to CRC susceptibility. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is considered a risk factor for CRC. A/prof Kulmira Nurgali kulmira.nurgali@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Inflammation-induced Osteosarcopenia: Mechanisms and Novel Treatments Western Health Medicine Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), comprising two main pathologies ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, affects >85,000 Australians. Almost 50% of patients with IBD are affected by osteoporosis or osteopenia and with risk of bone fracture 40% higher than the general population. Many young Crohn’s disease patients have osteoporosis and 60% of CD patients have sarcopenia when they should be at the peak bone and muscle strength. To date, no therapy proven to be efficacious in IBD-related osteoporosis/sarcopenia. A/Prof Kulmira Nurgali kulmira.nurgali@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Inflammatory cytokines involved in obesity and osteoarthritis Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Osteoarthritis (OA) is a most common form of arthritis and is associated with many risk factors, for example, obesity. Inflammatory cytokines have been implicated in facilitating OA progression. This project will use animal models of OA to identify a novel potential therapeutic target(s) for treating OA symptoms (i.e. pain) 1 1 Dr Kevin Lee mingchinl@unimelb.edu.au Prof. John Hamilton n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Post Doctor Researchers
Inflammatory mediators in the development of preeclampsia and pre-term birth. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Preeclampsia, pre-term birth and still birth are severe conditions affecting 10-15% of pregnancies worldwide. There are no treatments. This project will identify how these diseases develop and may lead to the development of new therapeutic targets. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Inhibition of microglia inflammation by AMPK for obesity treatment St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine This project will investigate whether AMPK activation in microglia can suppress hypothalamic inflammation and damage of appetite-regulating neurons resulting in reduced body weight gain with high-fat feeding. The study will involve the isolation and culture of primary microglia and handling of knockout and transgenic mice to investigate hormone signalling pathways, gene expression, whole-body energy homeostasis and hepatic glucose production. Dr Sandra Galic sgalic@unimelb.edu.au Prof Bruce Kemp n/a PhD students
Integration of population level ‘omics data to target cardiometabolic disease Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Development of a plasma lipid profiling test to enable the early detection of patients at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease. In addition we will develop methods to monitor treatment. Identification of individuals prior to the development of disease will enable early intervention and will have a profound effect on the health of the Australian population. Professor Peter Meikle peter.meikle@baker.edu.au Dr Corey Giles n/a PhD students; Honours students
Integrative genomics and immunobiology in Hairy Cell Leukaemia Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Hairy cell leukaemia is a rare and slowly growing cancer of B lymphocytes. While many patients treated with frontline treatment achieve durable remission, as many as 50% of patients will relapse and need further treatment. Why some patients require additional treatment and others have long term remissions remains unknown. We believe that understanding the genetics of the hairy cells and how the immune system responds to them will help answer this question. Professor David Ritchie david.ritchie@mh.org.au Dr Rachel Koldej n/a PhD students
Interplay between Streptococcus pneumoniae and respiratory viruses Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics In this project, you will elucidate the underlying microbiological and/or immunological mechanisms that govern the synergistic and antagonistic relationships between pneumococci and respiratory viruses. Key approaches to this project include: working with in vitro and/or in vivo models to understand the effect of coinfection on the host and microbes, including microbiological and immunological analysis of local and systemic samples. Your project will provide novel insights into bacterial-viral interactions. A/Prof Catherine Satzke catherine.satzke@mcri.edu.au Dr Sam Manna n/a PhD students
Investigating a novel mechanism for improving beta-cell function in type 2 diabetes St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine We aim to investigate whether pharmacological inhibition of Y1 receptor signalling will enhance β-cell function and improve glucose homeostasis in type 2 diabetes. Dr Kim Loh kloh@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students
Investigating biomarkers, clinical and cognitive symptoms in Huntington's disease and Alzheimer’s disease Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry This project uses the data from two large international longitudinal studies (ADNI and ENROLL-HD) to investigate the differences and similarities across the two cohorts (Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease), regarding biomarkers, clinical (e.g. neuropsychiatric symptoms) and cognitive symptoms. You will have the opportunity to work with a rich database of data. This project will suit a student with an interest in psychiatry, neurology, and neuropsychology, and who is interested in publishing findings. Dr Anita Goh goha@unimelb.edu.au Professor Dennis Velakoulis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Investigating cardiovascular disease in Friedreich's ataxia using human induced pluripotent stem cells St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Surgery This project aims to generate patient-specific cardiovascular cells from induced pluripotent stem cells to establish novel human Friedreich's Ataxia disease models for disease modelling and drug discovery Dr Shiang (Max) Lim maxlim@unimelb.edu.au Dr Jarmon Lees n/a PhD students
Investigating Lipotoxic Impacts of Fatty Acid Synthesis on: (1) Osteoblasts, and (2) Osteoclast, in Vitro and (3) Skeletal Muscle Western Health Medicine Bone is a dynamic organ that remodels and changes in composition throughout the lifespan. As a vital organ, bone is required for weight-bearing and motion, for haematopoiesis and energy storage, among others (Suchacki et al. 2017). Aprof Damian Myers damianem@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Investigating the Anabolic Effect Drugs (Picolinic Acid) on Osteocytes in Vitro Western Health Medicine Wnt signalling proteins are small secreted proteins that are active in embryonic development, and tissue homeostasis. Wnt proteins bind to receptors on the cell surface, initiating a signalling cascade that leads to β-catenin activation of gene transcription. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ahmed Al Seadi n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Investigating the basis of antibiotic resistance in Mycoplasma genitalium Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology The project will use molecular methods including Sanger sequencing, quantitative PCR, and digital PCR, in combination with bacterial culture, to investigate the mutations that contribute to antibiotic resistance, and how these mutations arise. Dr Gerald Murray gerald.murray@mcri.edu.au Professor Suzanne Garland n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Investigating the effects of GM-CSF and M-CSF derived human macrophages on phagocytosing P. falciparum infected erythrocytes and cytokine production Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine In this project you will explore the effects of IE phagocytosis by M1-like and M2-like MDMs on cytokine production and trafficking. Furthermore, you will be investigating the expression and function of signalling proteins that govern phagocytosis and cytokine secretion in these two types of MDMs Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au Professor Stephen Rogerson n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Investigating the electrophysiology of neuronal network dynamics St Vincent's Hospital Medicine The aim of this project is to understand the relationship between brain structure and brain activity. Specifically, the aim is to uncover the relationship between the structure of in vitro and in vivo neuronal networks and their behaviour, specifically their synaptic connectivity and patterns of neuronal firing. Of particular interest is the pathological case of Epileptic networks that produce abnormal electrical activity. Dr Andre Peterson peterson@unimelb.edu.au Prof Steve Petrou A/Prof Chris Reid n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Investigating the link between phenotype change and treatment resistance in prostate cancer Royal Melbourne Hospital Surgery The development of resistance to androgen (male sex hormone) deprivation therapy (ADT), the primary treatment for aggressive prostate cancer, is not clearly understood. Associate Professor Niall Corcoran niallmcorcoran@gmail.com Professor Christopher Hovens n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Investigating the molecular basis of parkinson's disease using novel genetic models Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Investigating the molecular basis of parkinson's disease using novel genetic models A/Prof Paul Lockhart paul.lockhart@mcri.edu.au Dr Yujin Gao n/a PhD students
Investigating the Rapamycin Effect on Induced-Palmitic osteocytes in Vitro Western Health Medicine The accumulation of fats in central regions of the body or peripherally can affect normal organ function, a condition referred to as lipotoxicity. This can also occur in bone and may affect bone health largely through the dysregulation of bone cell interactions and bone turnover Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Dr. Ahmed Al Seadi n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Investigating the relationship between fat, bone and muscle Western Health Medicine Osteoporosis, sarcopenia, frailty, falls and fractures in older Australians are a huge burden on the economy and health system. There is a great opportunity to address the issue by investigating how changes in the musculoskeletal system can lead to the weakening of our bones and muscles as we age; and how we can prevent falls and fractures by understanding such changes. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Is medication use related to cognitive variability? An examination of cross-diagnostic cognitive subgroups on the bipolar-schizophrenia spectrum Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry We are seeking an enthusiastic and academically high-performing student to be involved in an honours project investigating the medication use profiles of individuals in cross-diagnostic cognitive subgroups on the bipolar-schizophrenia spectrum. Dr Tamsyn Van Rheenen tamsyn.van@unimelb.edu.au n/a Honours students
Lifestyle Factors and Cognitive Health Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The main opportunities for this project are: 1. An opportunity for publication 2. Hands-on involvement in participant evaluation 3. Work with a large database with over 20 years of lifestyle data 4. This project would suit a candidate with an interest in neuropsychology 1 Professor Cassandra Szoeke healthy-ageing@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Lifestyle factors and effects on mood in elderly women Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The Women’s Healthy Ageing Project (WHAP) has prospective longitudinal, epidemiological data on alcohol consumption and mood of Australian women from age 45 over 25 years. This project will provide the opportunity for publication, as well as participant contact and clinical skills experience. Professor Cassandra Szoeke healthy-ageing@unimelb.edu.au Professor Lorraine Dennerstein n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Linking determination of cell fate in the developing nervous system to paediatric brain tumours Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Linking determination of cell fate in the developing nervous system to paediatric brain tumours Prof David Eisenstat david.eisenstat@mcri.edu.au n/a PhD students
Lipidomic Profiling of Atrial Fibrillation Progression in a Murine Model Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Atrial Fibrillation (AF) is a growing epidemic which is expected to double in prevalence by 2030. It is the most common rhythm disorder of the heart with series clinical implications, most notably stroke, where the risk can increase five-fold. Current treatments for AF have limited efficacy and/or have potentially dangerous side effects. New therapeutic targets therefore are required to address this unmet need. The area of lipidomic profiling has seen major advances due to the improvements in mass spectrometry technology in the past decade. Our lab and others have demonstrated the benefits of harnessing large scale (~800 individual lipids) lipidomic profiling in uncovering new potential therapeutic targets and/or biomarkers for the treatment/detection of various diseases, including heart failure. This study aims to comprehensively track changes in the lipidomic profile of the circulation, heart and surrounding tissues in a murine model as it develops AF. 1 Dr Yow Keat Tham yowkeat.tham@baker.edu.au Prof Julie McMullen n/a Honours students
Lipoproteins and Cardiovascular Risk from Mid- to Late-life in Women Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine This project will provide the opportunity to work with a rich database with data that spans over 20 years, as well as having participant contact and clinical skills experience. This project would suit a candidate who is interested in cardiovascular disease. There is also opportunity for publication. Senior Research Fellow Alexandra Gorelik healthy-ageing@unimelb.edu.au Professor Cassandra Szoeke n/a PhD students
Long-term impact of moderate and late preterm birth: effects on neurodevelopment, brain development and respiratory health at school age Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics The Victorian Infant Brain Studies group at The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is seeking a PhD student to join their team on a project investigating the impact of moderate-late preterm (MLP; 32 to <37 weeks’ gestation) birth on neurodevelopment, brain development, and respiratory health at 9 years of age. The majority of preterm births are attributed to MLP births, and there is a growing evidence-base demonstrating that children born MLP experience more adverse outcomes in early childhood than their term-born peers. Professor Jeanie Cheong jeanie.cheong@thewomens.org.au n/a PhD students
Longitudinal and secular trends in outcomes for adolescents with hearing impairment in Victoria Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Longitudinal and secular trends in outcomes for adolescents with hearing impairment in Victoria Dr Valerie Sung valerie.sung@rch.org.au Dr Lisa Mundy Dr Jing Wang n/a PhD students
Machine learning assisted stroke neuroimaging Medicine Assessment of stroke neuroimaging is increasingly complex. Machine learning assisted (decision support system) will likely enhance clinical decision making to the greater benefit of stroke patients. Professor Bernard Yan bernard.yan@mh.org.au Professor Marimuthu Palaniswami n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Machine learning prediction of brain and body ageing Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Your brain and other organs may be older (or younger) than your chronological age! Why? Associate Professor Andrew Zalesky azalesky@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ye Tian Dr Vanessa Cropley n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Making B-lymphocytes form pluripotent stem cells Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics This project involves the generation of B-lymphocytes from pluripotent stem cells. Professor Ed Stanley ed.stanley@mcri.edu.au Professor Andrew Elefanty n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Malaria: Going bananas for sex Royal Melbourne Hospital Infectious Diseases Our laboratory investigates the cellular mechanisms underpinning malaria parasite transmission and disease. We investigate the novel banana shaped sexual stages of Plasmodium falciparum, focused on understanding their unique biology and how this contributes to transmission. We are interested in developing and testing drugs and vaccines that may block transmission of the parasite from infected humans to Anopheles mosquitos. 1 1 Dr Matthew Dixon matthew.dixon@unimelb.edu.au Prof James McCarthy n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Manipulating Recipient Immunological Microenvironment to Improve Outcomes in Allogeneic Transplantation Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Allogeneic stem cell transplant (alloSCT) cures blood cancers by establishing a new immune system from the donor. Currently, AlloSCT has significant side effects including graft versus host disease (GVHD) and toxicity from strong chemotherapy. We will use new types of drugs to more safely modify recipient’s immunity prior to transplantation and examine how modifications in immunity allows for successful engraftment, freedom from toxicity (including GVHD) and improve anti-cancer responses. Prof David Ritchie david.ritchie@mh.org.au Dr Rachel Koldej Dr Joanne Davis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Mapping cerebellar connectivity in neurodevelopmental disorders Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Recent evidence suggests that the cerebellum may be a key site of neuropathology in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This study will examine both the direct effects of cerebellar pathology, and the role of cerebello-cortical circuitry, on the aetiology of ASD symptoms. Professor Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Professor Stan Skafidas n/a PhD students
Mapping hospital health records in Victoria, Australia for tracking pregnancy medicines use Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Mapping hospital health records in Victoria, Australia for tracking pregnancy medicines use Dr Yanhong Jessika Hu jessika.hu@mcri.edu.au Prof Melissa Wake n/a PhD students
Markers in Neuropsychiatric Disorders (MiND) study Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry The Markers in Neuropsychiatric Disorders (MiND) aims to study whether neurofilament light and other biomarkers, clinical, cognitive, imaging and other markers can improve diagnosis, prognostication, care and treatment, and health economic outcomes, for people with cognitive, neuropsychiatric and neurological symptoms. By studying a broad range of symptoms and conditions, from neurodegenerative dementias such as Alzheimer disease and behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, to many other neurological and neurodegenerative disorders, to schizophrenia and other severe psychiatric illnesses, the MiND study ultimately aims for clinical translation such as a screening blood test and precision care use of biomarkers and other markers, to improve outcomes for patients, their families, clinical trials and healthcare systems. Prof Dennis Velakoulis dennisv@unimelb.edu.au Dr Dhamidhu Eratne n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Marrow Adipose Tissue Functions: Studying Lipotoxicity in Hip Replacement Candidates Western Health Medicine Seven million Australians (28%) have musculoskeletal conditions, resulting in the fourth largest overall contributor to direct health expenditure in Australia, accounting for 8.7% ($5.690 billion) of total health-care expenditure, above all types of cancers combined (AIHW 2014).1 The majority of expenses are spent on two conditions: osteoporosis (OP) with associated fractures and osteoarthritis (OA). Yearly 144,000 older Australians sustain osteoporotic fractures at a significant cost of greater than $3.36 billion, excluding the burden, morbidity and mortality associated with osteoporotic fractures.2 Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ebrahim Bani Hassan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Massively Parallel Optical Imaging of Cognition Events in Neuronal Networks in Freely Behaving Mice Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Dr Chris French frenchc@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Measuring developmental outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics This PhD opportunity is focusing on the design, validation and evaluation of a psychometric measure to evaluate developmental outcomes in Australian Aboriginal children. Dr Anita d'Aprano anita.daprano@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
Mechanotransduction in blood cells and consequences for thrombosis and inflammation Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health This project will determine the effects of blood flow on immune cell function and identify receptors that control such effects. Professor Karlheinz Peter karlheinz.peter@unimelb.edu.au Dr Sara Baratchi n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Mesenchymal Stem Cell-based Therapies for Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colorectal Cancer Western Health Medicine Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), comprising 2 main pathologies, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, affects >85,000 Australians. The severity of chronic inflammation leads to gut perforations, fistulae, cancer and death. Current therapeutics for IBD are very toxic, have severe adverse effects and become ineffective over time. A/prof Kulmira Nurgali kulmira.nurgali@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Metabolic reprogramming of the failing heart Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Metabolic reprogramming of the failing heart Dr Alejandro Hidalgo-Gonzalez alejandro.hidalgogon@mcri.edu.au Dr Holly Voges A/Prof Enzo Porello n/a PhD students
Microbial changes following pneumococcal conjugate vaccination Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Pneumococci are a major global pathogen. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) protect against a subset of pneumococcal serotypes. Introduction of PCVs result in major changes to pneumococcal epidemiology and to the microbiota more broadly. In this project, you will examine nasopharyngeal samples and isolates collected from children from vaccine studies in low-income settings from the Asia-Pacific region. You will apply traditional and molecular microbiology approaches including culture and serotyping, qPCR, DNA microarray, whole-genome sequencing and antimicrobial resistance testing. Your results will inform vaccine strategies world-wide. A/Prof Catherine Satzke catherine.satzke@mcri.edu.au Dr Laura Boelsen n/a PhD students
Mid-Thigh Bone and Muscle Mass Measurements as an Assessment Tool for Diagnosis of Osteoporosis/penia, Sarcopenia and Osteosarcopenia: A Longitudinal Validation Study Western Health Medicine As we get older we lose bone and muscle mass and quality, known as osteoporosis and sarcopenia, respectively.As we lose bone mass our bones become brittle and easier to break. With less muscle mass we become weaker and possibly frail, in addition to becoming prone to falls. Those who have both weak muscles and brittle bones are called osteosarcopenic. Such patients are very prone to frailty, falls and fractures. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ebrahim Bani Hassan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Modelling cardiovascular diseases using human cardiac organoids St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Surgery This project aims to construct a multicellular cardiac organoid model using cardiomyocytes and non-myocyte cell populations derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells to study heart disease. Doctor Shiang Lim mlim@svi.edu.au Doctor Jarmon Lees n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Modelling T-cell Development using pluripotent stem cells Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics This project involves the generation of T-cells from pluripotent stem cells in the laboratory. Professor Ed Stanley ed.stanley@mcir.edu.au Professor Andrew Elefanty n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Modellling severe childhood epilepsy Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health Medicine Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder with a third of patients not responding to currently available treatments. To better understand the underlying mechanisms, our lab is developing and analysing disease models for genetic forms of epilepsy. Dr Snezana Maljevic snezana.maljevic@florey.edu.au n/a Masters by Research
Molecular remodelling of endothelial cells in response to specific lymphocytes and other signals Royal Melbourne Hospital,Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) Paediatrics This project will reveal novel insights into the role of circulating lymphocytes and other factors in modulating endothelial molecular function, a key determinant in a range of adverse health outcomes, including atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Prof Richard Saffery richard.saffery@mcri.edu.au Dr Boris Novakovic n/a PhD students
Molecular signalling pathways controlling gene expression during chronic disease progression Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Inflammation is now known to be associated with many chronic diseases such as arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, diabetes and heart diseases. This project aims to understand molecular signalling pathways controlling the expression of genes critical for the progression of such diseases. In this project you will explore in molecular terms how a particular inflammatory cell type (macrophage/dendritic cell) can adapt to provide a pro-inflammatory environment with consequences for persistence or otherwise of these significant diseases. More specifically you will investigate how transcription factors control the expression of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines. Elucidation of these molecular pathways will lead to the development of novel therapies. 1 2 Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Molecular signalling pathways controlling gene expression during chronic disease progression Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine In this project you will explore in molecular terms how a particular inflammatory cell type (macrophage/dendritic cell) can adapt to provide a pro-inflammatory environment with consequences for persistence or otherwise of these significant diseases. Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Monocytes in COVID-19: the great influencer of disease severity? Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine This project will examine how monocytes respond to SARS-CoV-2 infection and the role that they play in severe COVID-19. Associate Professor Siddhartha Mahanty smahanty@unimelb.edu.au Dr Louise Randall n/a Masters by Research
Most Bothersome Symptom: a new research outcome in women with endometriosis Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Most Bothersome symptom has been selected as an outcome to be measured in all future trials of interventions for endometriosis. As this outcome has not been measured in this population before, we need to undertake research to understand this outcome and use this to develop, test and validate a new tool for measuring Most Bothersome Symptom in women with endometriosis. Prof Martha Hickey hickeym@unimelb.edu.au Dr Sarah Lensen n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Multimodal imaging measures to improve dementia diagnosis Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The aim of this study is to study the influence morphological and longitudinal measures to improve dementia diagnosis. Dr Vijay Venkatraman vvenkatraman@unimelb.edu.au Prof Patricia Desmond Prof. Roland Bammer n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Multinuclear MRI biomarkers in schizophrenia Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Schizophrenia is a debilitating neuropsychiatric disorder characterised by positive symptoms (delusions, hallucinations), negative symptoms (lack of motivation, poverty of speech), cognitive deficits and impaired social and occupational functioning. The aetiology of schizophrenia remains unknown and the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of schizophrenia are poorly understood. Previous studies have identified altered brain metabolism as one of the putative mechanisms contributing to schizophrenia, partly due to neuroinflammation and pathological oxidative processes. However, there is a paucity of research investigating oxidative and neuroinflammatory processes in the brain in vivo. Sodium (23Na) MRI is an emerging metabolic imaging technique that employs ultra-high field MRI (7T and above) to characterise tissue sodium content, and together with iron (1H) MRI provides an invaluable tool to investigate brain structure and chemical composition in the living brain. By employing advanced multivariate statistical techniques, this program of work aims to combine complementary information from clinical, cognitive and biological data in order to identify unique patterns of cognition and structural changes associated with schizophrenia. 2 2 Professor Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Dr Warda Syeda Associate Professor Mahesh Jayaram n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Nephrotoxicity screening using stem cell-derived proximal tubules Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Nephrotoxicity screening using stem cell-derived proximal tubules Prof Melissa Little melissa.little@mcri.edu.au Dr Jessica Vanslambrouk n/a PhD students
Network communication in the brain Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Use network science to understand how information is communicated in nervous systems Associate Professor Andrew Zalesky azalesky@unimelb.edu.au Dr Caio Seguin n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Neural modelling of epileptic dynamics St Vincent's Hospital Medicine This project aims to understand the links between the average single neuron behaviour with the behaviour of a network of neurons.  In particular, we would like to understand how the electrical behaviour becomes unstable, for example, when there is a transition to a seizure-like state from a normal or resting state.  Dr Andre Peterson peterson@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Neurodevelopmental trajectories and biopsychosocial risk factors in autism and schizophrenia Psychiatry Children with neurodevelopmental disorders often have worse outcomes than typically developing children on a range of measures, including education, mental health, social dysfunction, vocational achievement, and conduct problems. Furthermore, overlap between the symptoms of many neurodevelopmental disorders, along with intra-illness heterogeneity, results in frequent misdiagnosis, ineffective treatment, and increased disability in affected children. There is therefore an urgent need to identify biopsychosocial markers that characterise specific neurodevelopmental disorders and impact on illness severity and outcomes. The key aims of our research are therefore to (1) map the developmental trajectories of cognition, behaviour, and brain structure and function in autism-spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizotypal disorder of childhood (SDC) over critical periods of brain development, and (2) identify the candidate biopsychosocial risk/resilience markers that might impact these trajectories and illness outcomes. Our work will consider a range of biopsychosocial markers, including genetics, inflammation, clinical profiles, early life stress and physiological stress reactivity, and psychosocial indices such as socioeconomic status and parenting styles. 2 2 Professor Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Dr Cassandra Wannan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Neuropsychological profile of children with childhood apraxia of speech Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Neuropsychological profile of children with childhood apraxia of speech This project will examine cognitive contributions in childhood apraxia of speech associated with our speech genetics clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital. A greater understanding of cognitive contributions to the condition, combined with new genomic data, will lead to more targeted therapeutic interventions and help to explain the mechanisms which lead to this symptom profile. Professor Angela Morgan angela.morgan@mcri.edu.au n/a PhD students
New methods for investigating bone muscle and fat mass using 2D DXA images to predict performance, risk of falls and fractures Western Health Medicine We have a new region of interest for analysing whole body DXA scans that can determine muscle, bone and fat mass in one go and in a matter of seconds. If validated, we can develop a quick, affordable and efficient way of screening people for bone, muscle and fat mass in one go. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease – characterising disease features in order to develop new therapies St Vincent's Hospital Medicine Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is the most common chronic liver disorder in developed countries, affecting up to 30% of the population. 10-20% of NAFLD patients will progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, in which inflammatory processes are activated in the liver. NASH can then progress to more advanced liver diseases, including cirrhosis and even hepatocellular carcinoma. Currently, no effective treatments have been shown to alter the natural history of NAFLD progression. Research efforts to understand the pathogenesis of NAFLD progression are hampered by the lack of a robust animal model. Dr Amanda Edgley aedgley@unimelb.edu.au Dr Fay Khong Dr Roy Kong n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Novel Approaches in Therapeutic Endoscopy Western Health Medicine The Western Health Department of Endoscopic Services provides a wide range of advanced gastrointestinal endoscopy services. The scope of minimally invasive therapeutic endoscopy is increasingly expanding in the modern era. A/prof Alan Moss alan.moss@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Novel genetic interactions with the double-stranded RNA-induced autoimmunity pathways St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine RNA editing, principally A-to-I editing, is the most prevalent form of RNA base modification and can lead to structural and functional changes in RNA and any subsequently encoded protein. Genomically encoded adenosine (A) is converted to inosine (I) in double stranded RNA (dsRNA) substrates. Inosine is interpreted as a guanine (G) during translation, thus harboring the potential to alter the protein coding sequence of mRNA substrates. However, A-to-I editing predominantly occurs in non-coding, repetitive elements such as inverted Alu elements and short interspersed elements (SINE). Estimates of the number of editing sites range from hundreds of thousands to millions in human cells, with tens of thousands in the mouse. This project will apply unique mouse models and genome wide screening to definitively understand the consequences of ADAR1 editing on non-coding and small RNA species. A/Prof Carl Walkley cwalkley@svi.edu.au Dr Alistair Chalk Dr Jacki Herard-Farlow n/a Masters by Research
Novel regenerative therapies in cardiovascular diseases Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Cardiovascular regenerative medicine is an exciting new approach that promises to change the current care of million people world-wide. The main objective of this project is to study the molecular mechanisms that result in promoting regeneration in damaged tissues. We will employ various experimental approaches to focus on different regenerative strategies including a broad spectrum of techniques such as stem cell derived exosomes. 1 Prof Karlheinz Peter Karlheinz.Peter@baker.edu.au Dr SMRITI MURALI KRISHNA Dr Xiaowei Wang n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Novel therapies for atherosclerotic plaque stabilization Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Our research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms that drive atherosclerotic plaque formation and plaque rupture in cardiovascular diseases. We aim to deeply characterise the fundamental molecular pathways underlying plaque formation and rupture using translational disease models and novel therapeutic agents. 1 Prof Karlheinz Peter Karlheinz.Peter@baker.edu.au Dr Smriti MURALI KRISHNA Dr Yung-Chih (Ben) Chen n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Novel therapies for the treatment of cardiorenal syndrome St Vincent's Hospital Medicine The aim of this project is to investigate the mechanisms underlying the direct effects of uraemic toxins in vitro in cardiac, renal, vascular cells and monocytes, with a focus on actions mediated via the AhR. Dr Andrew Kompa akompa@unimelb.edu.au Dr Amanda Edgley n/a PhD students
Ocular gene therapy: the new era of blindness prevention Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery In December 2017, the world’s first direct-to-human gene therapy was approved for an inherited retinal disease called Leber Congenital Amaurosis. This disease normally onsets in early childhood and causes severe vision loss and blindness. Excitingly, the new gene therapy treatment was able to halt the progression of this disease, saving vision for the study participants. This has opened the doors for a new era of medicine – one where blindness may be able to be stopped in its tracks with the use of gene therapy. Dr Tom Edwards thomas.edwards@unimelb.edu.au Dr Lauren Ayton Ms Jasleen Jolly n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Olfactory-focused cognitive training Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry The successful candidate in this project will help develop and evaluate an olfactory training paradigm suitable for use with cognitively impaired older adults. Dr Alex Bahar-Fuchs alex.bahar@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Optimising use of everyday technology for children and adolescents with acquired brain injury Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Optimising use of everyday technology for children and adolescents with acquired brain injury Dr Sarah Knight sarah.knight@mcri.edu.au A/Prof Adam Scheinberg n/a PhD students
Optogenetics for precise neural stimulation Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department The aim of this project is to develop the next generation of neural stimulation devices that use optical stimulation or combined optical/electrical stimulation in order to improve the precision of neural activation. A/Prof Rachael Richardson RRICHARDSON@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Oral Health and Attitudes in Young Adults Aged 15-25 Years with Diabetes Mellitus: A Case - Control Study Western Health Medicine Adults with poorly controlled Diabetes Mellitus (DM) have more advanced gum disease and people with poorer gum health will have greater difficulty in controlling their DM. Most observational and intervention research has concentrated on the bidirectional association between DM and Periodontal disease in older adults and the oral health of children with Type 1 (T1) DM. A/Prof Christine Rodda christine.rodda@unimelb.edu.au Prof Davis Darby n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Osteosarcopenia as a Geriatric Syndrome Western Health Medicine Osteoporosis, the most common bone disease in humans, shares distinct pathophysiological mechanisms with sarcopenia. Sarcopenia, characterized by low muscle strength, mass and physical performance, is an important disease in older adults. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ben Kirk n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Osteosarcopenia in community-dwelling older adults attending the Falls and Fracture Clinic Western Health Medicine The Falls and Fracture Clinic was developed to provide a comprehensive assessment for older adults with a risk or history of falls and fractures. Prof Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Osteosarcopenia in Older Adults Attending a Fracture Liaison Service Western Health Medicine Osteosarcopenia describes the significant loss of bone and skeletal muscle mass that occurs during ageing. Although the condition is not well characterised, osteosarcopenia appears to be associated with increased risk for disability, institutionalisation, falls, fractures and mortality in older adults. Dr. David Scott d.scott@unimelb.edu.au Prof Gustavo Duque n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Pacemaker channels and brain excitability Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Pacemaker channels in the brain are important for normal function. In this project we use optogenic tools to better understand what they do in the brain A/Prof Christopher Reid christopher.reid@florey.edu.au Dr Paulo Pinares-Garcia Dr Ming So n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Pain in children with cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics This PhD project will focus on tools that identify and measure pain and validating these in children with cerebral palsy as well as developing innovative methods using technology to measure pain in children who are unable to self-report. A/Professor Adrienne Harvey adrienne.harvey@mcri.edu.au n/a PhD students
Partnering to reduce neonatal pain Royal Women’s Hospital Paediatrics Breastfeeding, skin-to-skin (SSC) and very small amounts of sugar water reduce pain in healthy, sick and premature infants during painful procedures, yet research conducted around the world shows these strategies are infrequently used in clinical practice. There are no current data regarding Australian newborn pain management practices. Through an online survey, this project will ascertain current newborn pain management practices at the Royal Women's Hospital (Parkville and Sandringham campuses), ascertain perceptions of a brief healthcare provider-targeted video in promoting use of breastfeeding and SSC (https:www.youtube.comwatch?v=lpZNwP7bnkg&feature=youtu.be) and explore barriers and enablers to facilitating parents' involvement during painful neonatal procedures. 1 Professor Denise Harrison deniseh@unimelb.edu.au n/a Honours students
Pathology begins in the cells: Studying lipotoxic stress generated from adipocytes in bone and muscle cell cultures Western Health Medicine Osteopenia, osteoporosis and sarcopenia affect the lives of more than 2 million people in Australia and numbers are increasing exponentially due to increased life expectancy. Ageing is the strongest predictor of sarcopenia which is directly correlated with increased falls and bone fractures. The link between muscle health and the quality and strength of bone is underpinned by cell-cell interactions that regulate both cortical and trabecular bone turnover. A/prof Damian Myers damianem@unimelb.edu.au Prof John Hamilton n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Perceptual Disturbance in younger onset dementia Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry This project involves a qualitative study on the themes of psychotic symptoms in the cohort of patients with younger onset dementia at the Neuropsychiatry Unit, RMH. The student would examine all diagnostic groups (e.g. frontotemporal dementia, schizophrenia, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease). Thematic analysis will also be correlated with neuroimaging data to provide new literature on the neuroanatomical correlates of perceptual disturbance in younger onset dementia. Dr Anita Goh goha@unimelb.edu.au Professor Dennis Velakoulis n/a Masters by Research
Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Cognition in Ageing Women Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine This project aims to evaluate the association of Physical Activity, Sedentary Behaviour, and Cognition in Ageing Women over 20 years of follow-up. Dr Jesse Zanker healthy-ageing@unimelb.edu.au Professor Cassandra Szoeke n/a PhD students
Placental Cord Blood Cell Therapy in Children at High Risk of Heart Failure Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Placental Cord Blood Cell Therapy in Children at High Risk of Heart Failure A/Prof Salvatore Pepe salvatore.pepe@mcri.edu.au Prof Christian Brizard A/Prof Michael Cheung n/a PhD students
Plasmalogen modulation as a therapeutic approach for fatty liver disease Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health In this project we will combine our lipidomics expertise with our unique mouse models of plasmalogen modification as well as established mouse models of fatty liver diseases to define the therapeutic potential of plasmalogen modulation against fatty liver diseases. Identification of the mechanisms operating to attenuate disease pathogenesis will provide a clear rationale for the subsequent translation and commercialisation of this new prophylactic therapy. Professor Peter Meikle peter.meikle@baker.edu.au Dr Sudip Paul n/a PhD students; Honours students
Pre-clinical Analysis of Effects of Lamin A Overexpression on Mesenchymal Stem Cell Differentiation into Myocytes Western Health Medicine Falls and fractures are highly prevalent in the elderly. Around 20,000 hip fracture cases are reported in Australia every year, and nearly 25% of patients who sustain a hip fracture die within a year. Since a large number of fractures occur due to a fall, decrease in muscle size and strength with age (sarcopenia) seems to relate directly with the incidence of fall-related fractures. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Pre-Clinical Studies Identifying Novel Molecular Regulators of Skeletal Muscle Growth and Atrophy Western Health Medicine The aim of this project is to use rodent- and cell-based models to examine the potential for specific growth factors, signalling molecules, metabolic enzymes and/or transcription factors to stimulate muscle growth or promote muscle atrophy. Associate Professor Alan Hayes hayes.a@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Precision prediction of maternal and child outcomes from routine fetal ultrasounds Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Precision prediction of maternal and child outcomes from routine fetal ultrasounds Prof Melissa Wake melissa.wake@mcri.edu.au A/Prof Joanne Said n/a PhD students
Predicting Disability and Frailty in Older Persons: The Western Osteosarcopenia and Frailty (WOSF) Study Western Health Medicine Several potential operational definitions of frailty have been proposed, but none has become the gold standard for identifying frailty in the clinical or research setting. Therefore, the research agenda on frailty is focusing on the development of robust biomarkers and diagnostic tests for frailty. Prof Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Predictors of infection, clinical severity and immunological legacy of SARS-CoV-2 in extant longitudinal LifeCourse population cohorts of children and their household/family contacts Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics This project will use data from the COVID-Immune and YoungLives cohort studies which harness the MCRI’s unique population cohorts of children to investigate whether pre-COVID immune phenotypes and biomarkers predict susceptibility to and severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection. In addition, this project offers the opportunity to further understand the clinical features, natural history, transmission dynamics and long-term effects/legacy of SARS-CoV-2 infection in children, adolescents and young adults. The findings will have immediate translational importance and will inform prevention, interventions and policy. Associate Professor Kirsten Perrett kirsten.perett@rch.org.au Professor David Burgner David Burgner n/a PhD students
Prefrontal cortex, sympathetic activity and blood pressure regulation Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health There is a need to improve our understanding of how the brain interacts with other systems in the body to control blood pressure, so as to tailor more effective treatments. The sympathetic nervous system is known to play a critical role in blood pressure regulation. We have shown that activity in the prefrontal cortex is functionally coupled to bursts of muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA), indicating that it could contribute to sympathetic outflow and, hence, the control of blood pressure. In this study, we will test the direct effect of prefrontal cortex stimulation on modulation of MSNA and blood pressure modification. 1 Dr Tye Dawood tye.dawood@baker.edu.au Professor Vaughan Macefield n/a Honours students
Prevention of nut allergies in high risk infants Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Peanut allergy affects around 3% of children and around a third of those will go on to develop further nut (tree nut) allergies. Early introduction of peanut and egg into the diet has been found to be protective for the development of peanut and egg allergies and as such introduction before 12 months of age is now part of many international infant feeding guidelines. We have observational data that suggests timely introduction of tree nuts may also be protective and avoidance detrimental for the development of tree nut allergy. TreEAT (n=212) is a randomised controlled trial testing a new model of care for the prevention of tree nut allergies in infants at high risk. Infants with newly diagnosed peanut allergy are randomised to receive an in hospital supervised multi-nut (4 tree nut butter) food challenge or standard care (individual cautious tree nut introduction at home). This is a world-first trial of an intervention for the secondary prevention of tree nut allergies. The findings will have immediate translational importance and inform allergy prevention guidelines globally. A/Prof Kirsten Perrett kirsten.perrett@mcri.edu.au Dr Vicki McWilliam n/a PhD students
Quantitative imaging in dementia Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The aim of this study is to explore the utility of advanced MR imaging approaches in detecting early dementia. Prof Patricia Desmond Patricia.Desmond@mh.org.au Prof Roland Bammer Dr Vijay Venkatraman n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Quantitative Measure of Effusions Western Health Medicine Knee effusions are common in mechanical and inflammatory arthropathies. Increasingly it has been recognized that removal/reduction of joint effusions play a key role in improving pain and dysfunction at the knee joint, enabling rehabilitation and recovery A/Prof Keith Lim kklim@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Rare Diseases Now - Great care for rare Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Rare Diseases Now - Great care for rare A/Prof Tiong Tan tiong.tan@vcgs.org.au A/Prof Sue White Prof John Christodoulou n/a PhD students
Recipient immunity as a determinant of long term outcome in bone marrow transplantation Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (alloSCT) is a curative therapy for blood cancers. However, up to 50% of patients undergoing alloSCT continue to face the prospect of disease relapse, regimen-related toxicity, opportunistic infections and graft versus host disease. We have shown in mouse models that residual recipient immunity present at the time of alloSCT has a significant impact on outcome. We have launched multiple clinical trials to translate this finding to the clinic which incorporate significant correlative immunology analysis and will form the basis of this project. 1 Professor David Ritchie david.ritchie@mh.org.au Dr Rachel Koldej n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Refining the comprehensive geriatric assessment Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Domains of the comprehensive geriatric assessment need urgently to be defined to rationalize care for older individuals. Prof. Andrea Maier andrea.maier@mh.org.au Prof. Kwang Lim n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Regulating the vascularisation of the human glomerulus in vitro. Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Regulating the vascularisation of the human glomerulus in vitro. Prof Melissa Little melissa.little@mcri.edu.au Dr Aude Dorison n/a PhD students
Regulation of blood cell production by endothelial cell-derived retinoic acid receptor gamma St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine We make billions of blood cells every day due to finely regulated processes involving intrinsic and extrinsic factors. We have shown that the vitamin A receptor, RARg, is a key regulator of blood cell production and this project will explore one of its key roles. Professor Louise Purton lpurton@svi.edu.au Dr Gavin Tjin Ms Diannita Kwang n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Regulation of Placental Growth Factor in pregnancy complications Austin Health Obstetrics and Gynaecology Placental growth factor (PlGF) is a protein produced by the placenta during pregnancy that is critical to normal placental development. We know that it is reduced in pregnancies complicated by preeclampsia or fetal growth restriction. This project will focus on studying whether a signalling pathway, the JAK/STAT pathway, regulates PlGF in human placenta, and possibly identifying therapeutics that inhibit its expression/activation. 1 Dr Fiona Brownfoot fiona.brownfoot@gmail.com A/Prof Tu'uhevaha Kaitu'u-Lino n/a PhD students; Honours students
Relationship between the microbiome and female infertility. Royal Melbourne Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Recent studies have identified the endometrial microbiome however little is known how it affects the endometrium and whether it is associated with infertility. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Resolving inflammation in childhood respiratory disease Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics This project, funded by the NHMRC and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will apply a multi-omic approach to define the immune response in the upper and lower airway, as well as the peripheral blood, in children with chronic pulmonary diseases. Using cutting edge technology and clinically relevant patient sample from globally important paediatric cohorts, this project has a strong pathway to translation with the ultimate goal of informing strategies to improve clinical care and respiratory health throughout life. The project would suit a clinician or a scientist with an interest in immunology, bioinformatics, or pulmonary development. Dr Melanie Neeland melanie.neeland@mcri.edu.au Prof Sarath Ranganathan Dr Shivanthan Shanthikumar n/a PhD students
Respiratory strategies to protect the preterm lung at birth Paediatrics An exciting opportunity for a PhD Student who is enthusiastic and self- motivated to apply for a PhD Scholarship for research into preterm lung injury. The successful scholar will work with our molecular and translational program, which focuses on better understanding the physiological and biological response to mechanical ventilation, using proteomics and imaging tools such as Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT), to develop ventilation strategies that improve lung function and prevent long-term injury. Dr Prue Pereira-Fantini prue.pereira@mcri.edu.au A/Prof David Tingay n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Reverse translation to better understand fetal growth restriction Royal Melbourne Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology This project will involve laboratory studies on novel proteins we have identified as deranged in the circulation of women carrying a small baby. Associate Professor Tu'uhevaha Kaitu'u-Lino t.klino@unimelb.edu.au Associate Professor Natalie Hannan Professor Stephen Tong n/a PhD students
Reversible silencing of the cochlea Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department The auditory system has long been studied as an example of neural plasticity, with functional changes to neural processing resulting from deafness or severe hearing loss. Cochlear implants can provide peripheral input and partially reverse these changes from deafness. However, it is unknown if this incomplete reversal is due to the crude input from a cochlear implant or if it is a fundamental limit to plasticity of the mammalian auditory system. A/Prof Rachael Richardson RRICHARDSON@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Role of the family environment in shaping children's brains and mental health Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry The family environment, and in particular, the relationship between a child and their parent/s, has a significant role in shaping children's development and susceptibility to mental health problems. Emerging research suggests that parents impact their children's development via shaping their brain maturation. This project will utilise gold-standard observational data to investigate associations between real-world parenting behaviours, brain development and mental health in children. As data from this project has already been collected (N=160 participants), the student will work on analysis of the observational, neuroimaging and mental health data. 1 A/Prof Sarah Whittle swhittle@unimelb.edu.au n/a Honours students
Role of the Nervous System in Cancer Development and Progression Western Health Medicine The nervous system governs functional activities of many organs. Solid tumour like organs are also innervated by nerve fibers. The nervous system can modulate angiogenesis, the tumor microenvironment, immune functions and inflammatory pathways to influence metastases. Peripheral nerve invasion provides an alternative pathway for the spread of cancer cells when blood and lymphatic metastases are absent. A/prof Kulmira Nurgali kulmira.nurgali@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Roles of macrophages subpopulations in tumour microenvironment in gastric cancer Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Gastric cancer (GC) is the fourth most common cancer globally and 7th in incidence in Australia. It has a poor survival rate which can be attributed to the advanced stage at diagnosis in most patients. The molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying the development of GC are not well described. Tumour-associated macrophages (TAMs) are one of the most abundant immune components in GC. Our recent data demonstrated that the heterogeneity of macrophages within the tumour is present at both micro- and macro-levels due to the gradient change of different macrophage markers, namely IRF8, CD68, CD163 and CD206. This study highlights the need for investigating the roles of macrophage subpopulations in a tissue setting, to identify potential therapeutic candidates and to understand the immune landscape of GC. In this project you will explore the roles of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines driving the heterogeneity of macrophage populations and their functions in GC. 1 2 Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au Dr Yu-Kuan (Tony) Huang Prof Alex Boussioutas n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Roles of macrophages subpopulations in tumour microenvironment in gastric cancer Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine In this project you will explore the roles of proinflammatory (e.g. IFNgamma) and anti‐inflammatory cytokines (e.g. IL‐10) driving the heterogeneity of macrophage populations. Our previous genomic experiments have provided a number of exciting candidate genes that may be involved in the effector functions of these macrophage subpopulations. Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au Professor Alex Boussioutas n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Roles of mammary adipose macrophages in breast cancer Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Mammary adipose forms the large fraction of breast tumour microenvironment (TME). Macrophages, in particular tumour associated macrophages, are known to promote immune suppression to promote cancer growth. In the last decade, immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionised cancer therapy. However, this approach has had only limited success in breast cancers. While immune checkpoint inhibitors boost anti-tumour immune cells, immune suppression in TME could dampen this process. In this project, you will explore the role of mammary adipose macrophages and their response to immune checkpoint inhibitors. 1 2 Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ajithkumar Vasanthakumar n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Satellite imaging technology to detect the early signs of glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease in the retina Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery We aim to be the first group in the world to bring hyperspectral imaging, based on NASA satellite technology, to the clinic to improve the care of Australians with glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease. There are no screening tests for the earliest stages of the diseases. 400,000 Australians live with dementia and most have Alzheimer’s disease. A/Prof Peter van Wijngaarden peterv@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll: Young people and risk behaviours Burnet Institute Medicine Every year, we conduct an online survey with young people, asking about about social media use, sexual health and behaviour, alcohol and other drug use, mental health and other risks and behaviours. In this project the student will use the data collected to investigate patterns of risk behaviours and health outcomes in young people. Dr Megan Lim megan.lim@burnet.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Sexting, porn, and Tinder: An investigation of education and health promotion Burnet Institute Medicine Access to new technologies could present novel risks to young people’s sexual health. Dr Megan Lim megan.lim@burnet.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Singing for breathing in people with severe non-malignant, chronic lung diseases Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Group singing for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has not only demonstrated improvement in quality of life, but has been shown to be an enjoyable experience, with the potential for reducing social isolation and enhancing emotional well-being. With the recent events of COVID-19 imposing social distancing and isolation, those with chronic respiratory disease are at greater risk of social isolation and do not have ready access to other forms of social interaction and therapies which may assist in improving symptoms. An alternative approach to group singing through the use of technology will be examined in this series of mixed methods studies, with a focus on its impact on social and emotional well-being, as well as the effects on dyspnoea, activity levels, sleep, anxiety and quality of life Assoc Prof Natasha Smallwood natasha.smallwood@mh.org.au n/a PhD students
Social and physical activities in ageing women Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine This project provide opportunity to work with a rich database with data that spans over 20 years already collected to evaluate the social and physical activities in ageing women. Dr Jesse Zanker jesse.zanker@unimelb.edu.au Professor Cassandra Szoeke n/a PhD students
Socioeconomic status and sleep in late childhood Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Healthy sleep is critical for good health, including mental health and cognitive function. Low socioeconomic status is associated with altered sleep, however the factors driving this association remain unclear. Using a multidimensional assessment of SES and sleep, this study aims to identify the unique factors of SES that are associated with sleep problems in late childhood. It may also examine the factors of SES that influence the association between poor sleep and later socioemotional adjustment and cognitive functioning. 1 1 Dr Vanessa Cropley vcropley@unimelb.edu.au Ms Rebecca Cooper n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Sodium Channels in Epilepsy Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine This project is to study voltage-gated sodium channels, membrane proteins that are the basis of almost all electrical signaling in the nervous system, and so of the greatest significance in normal function, as well as disease states including epilepsy. Dr Chris French frenchc@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Stentrode: Tissue Response to Endovascular Stimulation Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Tissue response influences the effectiveness of the bioelectric implants. The aim of this project is to evaluate the Acute and chronic histological, macroscopic changes due to endovascular electrical stimulation to the surrounding blood vessels. Dr Sam John sam.john@unimelb.edu.au A/Prof Nicholas Opie Dr. Brooke Farrugia n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Stroke assessment with multi-modal imaging Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The aim of this project will be to explore the utility of multimodal imaging in stroke assessment. Dr Vijay Venkatraman vijay.venkatraman@unimelb.edu.au Prof. Roland Bammer Prof Patricia Desmond n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Structural biology of proteins involved in bone diseases St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine Remodelling of bone is critical for normal physiological function and becomes dysfunctional in diseases such as Osteoporosis (bone thinning and fragility) and Osteosarcoma (bone cancer), where a paucity of bone material causes debilitating illness that is currently irreversible. Alternatively, mutation of a specific membrane protein, ClC-7, causes a rare inherited disease (Osteopetrosis) in which too much bone material is deposited leading to abnormally increased bone mass. Our preliminary studies have suggested a molecular basis for aberrant function of ClC-7 mutants in Osteopetrosis. The aim of this project is to fully characterise the mechanism of ClC-7 mutations that cause Osteopetrosis in order to develop drugs that mimic the phenotype of these mutations. Dr Brett Bennetts brettb@unimelb.edu.au Prof Michael Parker n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Structural biology of proteins involved in cancer St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine We are investigating, though structural and biochemical means, how a range of ruthenium, arsenic and osmium-based drugs and drug-like compounds interact with Glutathione S-Transferase (GST) family of proteins. Dr Craig Morton craig.morton@unimelb.edu.au Prof Michael Parker n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Structural biology of proteins involved in infection St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine The b-barrel pore-forming toxins constitute the largest group of functionally related toxins/proteins and are expressed in many species in the prokaryotic and eukaryotic kingdoms and also include the membrane attack complex/perforin (MACPF) family of mammalian immune defence proteins. Despite their widespread occurrence and role in bacterial pathogenesis and immune defence, the detailed mechanism by which they form pores remains an enigma. The overall aim here is to visualise the 3D structures of family members as a basis for functional studies to reveal the molecular details of how these toxins insert into membranes to form b-barrel pores and how the process is regulated. Dr Craig Morton craig.morton@unimelb.edu.au Prof Michael Parker n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Structural biology of proteins involved in mental illnesses St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the fourth biggest killer in developed countries. Amyloid precursor protein (APP) plays a central role in the development of AD, through generation of the toxic Abeta peptide by proteolytic breakdown of APP. Here we will use X-ray crystallography at the Australian Synchrotron to determine the 3D atomic structures of Abeta bound to therapeutic antibodies currently in clinical trials in order to understand how these molecules recognise Abeta. We use this information to engineer more potent antibodies as treatments for AD. Prof Michael Parker mparker@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Studying novel proteins in preeclampsia Royal Melbourne Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology This project will involve laboratory studies of novel placental proteins that we have identified may play a role in the pathogenesis of preeclampsia. Associate Professor Tu'uhevaha Kaitu'u-Lino t.klino@unimelb.edu.au Associate Professor Natalie Hannan Professor Stephen Tong n/a PhD students; Honours students
Supporting young people with complex disability to participate in important life situations Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Supporting young people with complex disability to participate in important life situations Prof Christine Imms christine.imms@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
Sympathetic activation in adults with inadequate sleep Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health This proposed study will assess the effect of inadequate sleep on the neural control of blood pressure to determine the role of sleep in hypertension. Dr Stephanie Yiallourou stephanie.yiallourou@baker.edu.au Professor Vaughan Macefield n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Symptom comorbidity networks in psychiatry Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Investigate causal links between psychiatric symptoms and cognition across mental illnesses Dr Vanessa Cropley vcropley@unimelb.edu.au Associate Professor Andrew Zalesky n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Synthesising, dismantling and optimising cognitive interventions Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry We offer a unique opportunity to learn advanced meta-analysis techniques and lead high impact work that changes clinical practice. Location is flexible. Dr Amit Lampit amit.lampit@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Systematic EndoscopIc Staging of Mediastinum to determine Impact on radiotherapy for locally advanced lung Cancer (SEISMIC): an international multi-centre cohort study Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Lung Cancer remains the most common cause of cancer death in Australia & the western world. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) comprises 87% of all lung cancers, and of these over 25% are diagnosed with locally advanced disease – defined by involvement of mediastinal lymph nodes (LN). The SEISMIC study aims to identify the optimal method for mediastinal LN and planning of radiation therapy fields. Associate Professor Daniel Steinfort Daniel.Steinfort@mh.org.au Associate Professor Shankar Siva n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
T cell function as a determinant of blinatumomab efficacy in B-ALL Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The CD3/CD19 bispecific T cell engager blinatumomab (blin) is effective for the treatment of relapsed or refractory B cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (B-ALL). Total CD8 T cell numbers at the time of treatment have been associated with a higher likelihood of response. However, studies have not explored if patient T cell function has an impact on therapeutic efficacy. We hypothesise that response to blin will be dependent on pre-treatment T cell function. 1 1 Professor David Ritchie david.ritchie@mh.org.au Dr Rachel Koldej n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Taking placenta to scale: The population burden of disordered placentation and placental function Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Taking placenta to scale: The population burden of disordered placentation and placental function Prof Melissa Wake melissa.wake@mcri.edu.au Prof Richard Saffery n/a PhD students
Taking the “Guesswork” Out of Glaucoma Clinical Management with Novel Imaging Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible vision loss in Australian and worldwide. This project seeks to examine whether state-of-the-art imaging can be used to transform the clinical management of glaucoma. Dr Zhichao Wu wu.z@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
Targeting inflammation and fibrosis for the treatment of retinal disease St Vincent's Hospital Medicine Currently, there are no effective treatment options for retinal scarring and limited therapies for neovascularisation, hence there is a high unmet clinical need for novel and cost effective products to prevent vision loss associated with neovascularisation, inflammation and fibrosis. With this focus our group, along with the biotech company OccuRx, has patented a library of new chemical entities with potent anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic properties to treat inflammatory and fibrotic diseases of the retina. Dr Roy Kong Dr Amanda Edgley n/a PhD students
Targeting microglia in neurodegenerative diseases St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine Microgial cells, the resident immune cells of the central nervous system, act as the first and main form of immune defense against toxic molecules involved in neurodegenerative diseases. We are using structural biology to learn how to modulate microglia receptors to eliminate these toxins from the brain. Professor Michael Parker mparker@svi.edu.au Dr Jon Gooi n/a PhD students
Targeting novel mediators of chronic pain to improve analgesia for Epidermolysis Bullosa Royal Melbourne Hospital,Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI) Paediatrics This PhD project research seeks to improve understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of chronic pain in EB by defining its critical mediators, and its outcome will be to advance the development of new analgesic options in EB. To achieve this goal, the student will join a team of accomplished basic scientists and clinical researchers, who have a proven record of bench-to-bedside innovation in EB. The project will involve use of a unique murine model of EB that we recently generated as well as EB patient samples to maximise clinical translation of our studies, and will see the student apply existing drug discovery approaches to rationally target EB pain for the first time. A/Prof Ken Pang ken.pang@mcri.edu.au Dr Nicholas Veldhuis A/Prof Johannes Kern n/a PhD students
Targeting Pyroptosis to improve diabetic cardiovascular disease. Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Cardiovascular complications associated with Type 2 diabetes (T2D) lead to significant morbidity and mortality, for which standard treatment options are insufficient to halt or reduce this clinical burden. Recent clinical evidence from the successful CANTOS trial suggests that targeting the cytokine IL-1b lessens inflammation and reduces the burden of cardiovascular disease. IL-1b is matured on the NLRP3-inflammasome along with IL-18 and GasderminD, the pyroptosis (a specific form of cell death) regulating protein. Pyroptosis and release of detrimental cytokines is hypothesized to propagate cardiovascular disease. This proposal will investigate the role of pyroptosis in mediating diabetes-driven cardiomyopathy. 1 1 Prof Judy de Haan judy.dehaan@baker.edu.au Dr Arpeeta Sharma n/a Honours students
Testing nanoengineered drug delivery systems to treat hearing loss Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department It has long been established that hair cells in the inner ear are susceptible to damage. Recent evidence has revealed that the synapses between hair cells and neurons are the first to degenerate in the ageing or noise-exposed inner ear. This project will focus on developing a treatment strategy to repair the synaptic connections in the damaged inner ear. Dr Niki Gunewardene NGunewardene@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Testing therapeutics for infertility in organoid models Royal Melbourne Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology This project aims to recreate human organoid cultures of the endometrium to determine the cause and treatment of embryo implantation failure infertility. Professor Eva Dimitriadis eva.dimitriadis@unimelb.edu.au Dr Wei Zhou n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
The cellular fuel gauge: Novel mechanisms of metabolic control St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine All living organisms have a critical need to couple energy and nutrient supply with growth. A major sensor of the nutrient status of a cell’s environment is the evolutionarily conserved AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK). AMPK acts as the cell’s fuel gauge by directly sensing energy state (AMP, ADP and ATP), and orchestrating multiple branches of metabolism by phosphorylating and regulating key rate-limiting enzymes in these pathways. Our research goal is to bridge this knowledge gap by hunting for regulatory AMPK kinases and metabolite ligands. A/Prof Jon Oakhill joakhill@svi.edu.au Dr John Scott n/a PhD students
The Correlation between Knee Effusions and Clinical Presentation in Patients with Knee Osteoarthritis Western Health Medicine Knee osteoarthritis (OA) is one of the leading causes of disability worldwide and its prevalence is increasing. Locally, over 2.1 million Australians are affected and this figure is increasing secondary to our obesity epidemic. A/Prof Keith Lim kklim@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The development of anti-NPY1 receptor antibodies for research into and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and cancer Austin Health Medicine Research into the developement of an immunotoxin or imaging reagent for potential treatment or imaging of CVD and breast cancer respectively. Dr Peter J Wookey pwookey@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
The effect of ageing and sex differences on heart recovery following a heart attack Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health There are currently no treatments for survivors of a heart attack to support their heart healing and to reduce their high risk of developing severe complications such as heart failure. Most preclinical studies investigating cardiac protection post-heart attack were conducted on young male animals, equivalent to a teenager; however, 90% of Australian victims of heart attack were above 55 years and, importantly, 40% of them were women. Our study will establish for the first time, the age- and sex-specific differences in heart recovery after a heart attack, with a particular focus on cardiac function and remodelling. This study will provide support for further studies on treatments adapted for aged males and females following a heart attack. 1 Associate Professor Anna Calkin anna.calkin@baker.edu.au Dr Adele Richart n/a Honours students
The Genomic Drivers of High Risk Prostate cancer Royal Melbourne Hospital Surgery The issue of prostate cancer (CaP) in the Western world represents a major clinical problem with the prostate being the most cancer prone internal organ, but only an unpredictable 10% of these cases progress to lethality. Professor Christopher Hovens cbhovens@gmail.com Associate Professor Niall Corcoran n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The impact of cancer therapies on the bone marrow microenvironment St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine Cancer therapies cause profound reductions in blood cell counts in a range of patients and can affect treatment outcomes. We have shown that some of these effects are caused by damage to the non-blood cells that regulate blood cell production, which will be further investigated here. Professor Louise Purton lpurton@svi.edu.au Dr Gavin Tjin n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The influence of sleep on brain development and psychopathology over adolescence Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Healthy sleep is critical for good health, including brain health. This study will examine the impact of sleep on the development of brain structure over adolescence and examine whether changes in these relationships increase the risk for the later development of psychopathology. Dr Vanessa Cropley vcropley@unimelb.edu.au AProf Sarah Whittle Ms Rebecca Cooper n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The long term outcomes of children of pregnancies complicated by diabetes Austin Health Obstetrics and Gynaecology

This project opens February 2022.

Diabetes is common among the Australian population, including among pregnant women. While the short-term impacts of diabetes during pregnancy on an unborn baby have been investigated, we still do not know the longer-term impact on these babies including brain development and educational outcomes. A better understanding of the long-term impact of a mother having diabetes during pregnancy may help target care to women with diabetes during pregnancy and provide support and early intervention after birth.
1 Dr Anthea Lindquist anthea.lindquist@unimelb.edu.au Dr Roxanne Hastie Ms Anna Middleton n/a Master of Biomedical Science
The neurobiology of anxiety across development and sex Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Psychiatry This study aims to characterise the neurobiology of fear learning (a key mechanism in anxiety) in children, adolescents and adults, and investigate the role of pubertal hormones. Knowledge gained will have implications for understanding the etiology and treatment of anxiety disorders. Associate Professor Sarah Whittle swhittle@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students
The prognosisdiagnosis of common pregnancy complications utilising genetic material found in extracellular vesicles derived from maternal blood and urine. Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology The ultimate objective of this research is to develop a test for the early detection of common pregnancy disorders. Dr Bill Kalionis kalionis@unimelb.edu.au Assoc Prof Harry Georgiou Dr Maria Kokkinos n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The relationship between cognitive impairment seen in chronic mental illness and dementia - what can mortality information tell us? Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry We will be examining mortality data from patients who have chronic mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder. Dr Samantha Loi samantha.loi@unimelb.edu.au Professor Dennis Velakoulis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
The Renovators Dream: Malaria host cell remodelling Royal Melbourne Hospital Infectious Diseases Our laboratory investigates the cellular mechanisms underpinning malaria parasite transmission and disease. We investigate the novel banana shaped sexual stages of Plasmodium falciparum, focused on understanding their unique biology and how this contributes to transmission. We are interested in developing and testing drugs and vaccines that may block transmission of the parasite from infected humans to Anopheles mosquitos. 1 1 Dr Matthew Dixon matthew.dixon@unimelb.edu.au Prof James McCarthy n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
The role of AMP-activated kinase in suppressing atherosclerosis St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine The main objective of this project is to study how AMPK controls cholesterol production in the liver and macrophages. AMPK’s activation in response to exercise is thought to be part of the protective mechanism against the development of heart disease. We aim to investigate whether by changing the activity of AMPK, using drugs that currently in clinical trial, we can augment the body’s natural control mechanisms and significantly reduce the development of atherosclerosis. Dr Kim Loh kloh@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students
The role of CCL17 in osteoarthritis Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, for which there are no adequate therapies Dr Kevin Lee mingchinl@unimelb.edu.au A/Prof Andrew Cook n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The role of Critical Signalling Pathways in Glioblastoma Mediated Immunosuppression Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The most severe form of brain cancer, Glioblastoma Multiforme is extremely lethal, with the average survival time of less than 12 months after diagnosis. Glioblastoma cells are generally highly proliferative, invasive. Recent evidence suggests that their micro-environment contains factors that suppress anti-tumour immune responses. However, the role of glioblastoma cell signalling in promoting an immunosuppressive environment is not well known. This project will evaluate the role of critical glioblastoma-promoting signalling pathways in promoting immunosuppression. Specifically, we will identify key immunosuppressive factors/cytokines secreted by glioblastoma cells and evaluate their role in blocking immune cell function (activation and killing activity). 1 2 Dr Adrian Achuthan aaa@unimelb.edu.au Dr Rodney Luwor n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
The role of EGFR Signaling in Glioblastoma Progression and Resistance to Current Therapies Royal Melbourne Hospital Surgery This project will investigate the critical role the epidermal growth factor receptor plays in glioblastoma progression. Dr Rodney Luwor rluwor@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The role of FANCM gene in inherited breast cancer St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine 1 in 10 breast cancers are due to inheritance of a predisposing gene. In half of these cases, the inherited gene mutation is in the well characterised BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. The normal function of BRCA1 and BRCA2 is in DNA repair, to suppress cancer by removing the damage to DNA that is caused by carcinogens. Over the last few years, many other DNA repair genes have been linked with familial breast cancer, including the FANCM gene. Our lab studies the mechanism of DNA repair by the FANCM protein using cell-based and protein chemistry-based approaches. This project will test the breast-cancer associated FANCM mutations identified in a screen of 11,000 women with a history of breast cancer, in a set of assays so that we may determine why they might predispose to breast cancer. A/Prof Andrew Deans adeans@svi.edu.au Dr Elyse Dunn n/a PhD students
The role of invadopodia in glioma invasion and response to therapeutics Royal Melbourne Hospital Surgery This project will involve studies that explore the role of a number of invadopodia proteins in glioma cells, how they contribute to their invasive phenotype and ultimately influence their response to treatment. Dr Stanley Stylli sstylli@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The role of microglial cells in epilepsy Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine Epilepsy is a brain disease which has a complex pathophysiology. This project will examine the role of microglial cells in the development of epilepsy using a mouse model. A/Prof Nigel Jones nigel.jones@monash.edu Dr Idrish Ali n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The role of RECQL4 gene in cancer predispositon St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine This project will test RecQL4 mutations associated with Rothmund-Thomson syndrome in a set of assays so that we may determine how the mutations directly impair DNA replication and/or repair. Dr Andrew Deans adeans@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
The role of RNA editing enzyme ADAR1 in liver homeostasis and metabolism St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine We are interested in understanding how the RNA modifying enzyme ADAR1 functions. We will use genetic models to dissect its in vivo function. A/Prof Carl Walkley cwalkley@svi.edu.au Dr Jacki Heraud-Farlow n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
The role of STAT3-mediated Cancer Progression and Resistance to Current Therapies Royal Melbourne Hospital Surgery This project will investigate the critical role of STAT3 in mediating cancer progression. Dr Rodney Luwor rluwor@unimelb.edu.au n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Towards a patient-specific examination of epileptogenesis St Vincent's Hospital Medicine How can we quantify and model these differences in brain network structures in order to personalise diagnosis and treatment in complex patient-specific diseases such as epilepsy? One direction towards this ultimate goal is to use graph theory and dynamical systems in combination with connectome data to convert brain network structures into matrices. Prof Mark Cook markcook@unimelb.edu.au Dr Andre Peterson n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Towards treatment of intellectual disability caused by errors in the chromatin machinery Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics This project will identify and characterize mutations in the chromatin machinery in infants and children with brain development disorders, delineate human phenotypes associated with these mutations, and characterize the phenotypic, cell biological, molecular and biochemical consequences of the patient-specific mutations in model systems. The longer term objective is to test potential therapeutic interventions in genetic models. Professor David Amor david.amor@mcri.edu.au n/a PhD students
Transgenerational influence of diet on autoimmune susceptibility St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine While it is not difficult to envisage how an environmental factor can have a direct effect on at-risk individuals, evidence suggest that such cues may also influence autoimmune susceptibility at transgenerational level. That is, the exposure of parent to an environmental factor then affects the susceptibility of their offspring. A/Prof Mark Chong mchong@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students
Treating fibrosis and inflammation to prevent end-organ damage in diabetes St Vincent's Hospital Medicine The Renal and Cardiovascular Translational Research group is focused on developing novel compounds for the treatment of pathological inflammation and fibrosis in diabetic and non-diabetic kidney, heart and eye disease. Our projects adopt a “bench to bedside” approach where we evaluate the efficacy of novel therapies on structural and functional aspects of heart, kidney, liver and eye disease using well characterised animal models that mimic the complications seen in humans. Dr Roy Kong roy.kong@unimelb.edu.au Dr Amanda Edgley Dr Fay Khong n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Treatment outcome in older lung cancer patients: does the biological age predict it? Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine We will determine the biological age of older lung cancer patients and test if the biological age can predict treatment outcome. Prof. Andrea Maier andrea.maier@mh.org.au Dr. Claire Maddison n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Trends in maternal and newborn health outcomes in Demographic Household Surveys in Papua New Guinea (2006 and 2018) Burnet Institute In this project, a student will conduct a comparative analysis of the two Demographic Health Surveys (2006 and 2018) available for Papua New Guinea, to assess trends in socio-demographic characteristics, reproductive health service utilization and maternal and newborn health outcomes. Dr Joshua Vogel joshua.vogel@burnet.edu.au Prof Caroline Homer Dr Alyce Wilson Dr Meghan Bohren n/a Masters by Research
Type I interferon as a novel endogenous trigger of trained immunity Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Trained immunity is a form of innate immune memory resulting in a “high-alert” immune state. We will explore whether type I interferon can build immunological memory in vivo and whether this exerts harmful effects in the setting of chronic inflammation, such as atherosclerosis. Dr Andrew Fleetwood andrew.fleetwood@unimelb.edu.au A/Professor Andrew Murphy n/a PhD students
Ubiquitin Proteasome System in Schizophrenia Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health Psychiatry The ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is a master regulator of neural development and the maintenance of brain structure and function. It influences neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and neurotransmission by determining the localization, interaction and turnover of scaffolding, presynaptic and postsynaptic proteins. Moreover, UPS signalling transduces epigenetic changes in neurons independent of protein degradation and as such dysfunction of components and/or substrates of this system have been linked to a broad range of brain conditions. Although links between UPS dysfunction and neurodegenerative disorders have been known for some time, only recently have similar links emerged for neurodevelopmental disorders, such as schizophrenia. We and others have found that diffeerent components of the UPS are dysregulated in schizophrenia. The project aims to investigate whether specific poly-ubiquitin changes are altered in brain samples from individuals with schizhophrenia. 1 2 Professor Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Professor Ashley Bush Dr Carlos Opazo n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science
Understanding and defining supportive health/NDIS service environments Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Understanding and defining supportive health/NDIS service environments Prof Christine Imms christine.imms@unimelb.edu.au Prof Dinah Reddihough n/a PhD students
Understanding changes in auditory processing from noise induced hearing loss Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department This project will investigate the effects of hearing impairment brought about by the exposure to noise. A/Prof Andrew Wise awise@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Understanding differences in outcomes of cochlear implants Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department Deafness has a detrimental effect on the structure and function of the auditory system, from loss and demyelination of neurons in the auditory nerve, to plastic changes in the brainstem and cortical areas. These changes can have detrimental effects on a person’s ability to understand speech using a cochlear implant. Understanding the mechanisms of these changes, and how they impact on hearing, will lead to ways to optimise the cochlear implant function for each individual. Prof Colette McKay CMcKAY@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Understanding how immune cell function is impacted by novel therapies in patients with B cell malignancies Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine In recent years, new non-chemotherapy based small molecule inhibitors such as Venetoclax and Ibrutinib have been shown to offer improved outcomes in patients with B cell malignancies. Our existing data has demonstrated that these therapies have a significant impact on patient immune function when used long term which will be explored further in this project. 1 Prof David Ritchie david.ritchie@mh.org.au Dr Rachel Koldej Dr Joanne Davis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Understanding how the brain processes combined electrical and acoustic stimulation Bionics Institute Medical Bionics Department The expansion of criteria for cochlear implantation to include patients with substantial residual hearing has focused interest on the benefits of combined electro-acoustic stimulation (EAS). Although such stimulation via a hybrid cochlear implant (CI) and hearing aid in the same ear has been shown to improve speech understanding, particularly in noise, and to increase the aesthetic quality of sound, almost nothing is known about the physiological mechanisms underlying these benefits. A number of animal studies have been performed, but they have used normal hearing animals and used simple acoustic and electrical stimulation that are not representative of complex electrical and acoustic information that represent speech and have limited clinical relevance. A/Prof James Fallon JFALLON@bionicsinstitute.org n/a PhD students
Understanding how Type 17 immunity and IL-17 cytokines regulate Type 1 diabetes St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a human autoimmune disease involving the progressive destruction of the insulin producing B-cells in the pancreatic islets. A clearer understanding of the autoimmune processes will provide new opportunities for therapeutic intervention in human T1D patients. Our primary goal is to cure T1D by developing novel immune therapies. Dr Andrew Sutherland asutherland@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students
Understanding pneumococcal pathogenesis Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus) is the most common cause of community-acquired pneumonia and a leading killer of children world-wide. However, it is also commonly found as an asymptomatic coloniser of the upper respiratory tract (carriage). Pneumococcal carriage is an important reservoir for transmission and a precursor to disease.Your research will provide new insights into how pneumococci colonise and cause disease. A/Prof Catherine Satzke catherine.satzke@mcri.edu.au Dr Sam Manna n/a PhD students
Understanding the burden and consequences of Mycoplasma genitalium infection Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Mycoplasma genitalium (MG) is an emerging pathogen and a suspected cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) that is proving difficult to control due to high levels of antibiotic resistance. This project will use epidemiological methods to generate new evidence on the risk of PID among women with MG infection and establish a surveillance system for monitoring MG resistance patterns. Dr Dorothy Machalek dorothy.machalek@thewomens.org.au A/Prof Catriona Bradshaw Dr Gerald Murray n/a PhD students
Understanding the genetic basis of lipedema St Vincent's Hospital Surgery Lipidema is a debilitating disease caused by excessive accumulation of fat in arms and lower extremities, affecting women at the onset of puberty. There is no known cure. Often, there is a lymphodema component associated with this disease but the precise role of lymphatics in disease pathology is unclear. This project will initiate a genetic screen of affected individuals and their families in order to identify genes that may be affected in these patients. Dr Ramin Shayan rshayan@svi.edu.au Dr Tara Karnezis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Understanding the microenvironment of lymphodema St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Surgery Approximately 20% of cancer patients undergoing radiotherapy and/or surgical resection of lymph nodes will develop Lymphodema. Communication between cells is a fundamental process during disease progression. One of the key features of lymphodema is the accumulation of fat within the surrounding tissue, fibrosis, poor immunity and extreme pain. We would like to understand how adipocytes, nerve cells, fibroblasts and immune cells communicate with lymphatic endothelial cells during the course of lymphodema. Dr Ramin Shayan rshayan@svi.edu.au Dr Tara Karnezis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Understanding the neurobiology of autism in NF1 using patient derived stem cell models Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics vAutism (or autism spectrum disorder; ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterised by debilitating impairments in social communication and restricted interests and repetitive behaviours. In most cases, the cause of autism is unknown and because of this, there are no effective treatments for autism in the general population. However, a subset of individuals (15-20%), autism occurs in children with a clinically defined syndrome which arise from a single gene disorder. This is the case in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), an autosomal dominant disorder caused by a loss-of-function mutation in the NF1 gene. Studying a monogenic disorder with a high prevalence of autism will allow a more targeted and deeper understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms of ASD in NF1. Dr Kiymet Bozaoglu kiymet.bozaoglu@mcri.edu.au Prof Paul Lockhart A/Prof Jonathan Payne n/a PhD students
Understanding the role of CXCR7 in lymphodema following radiation injury St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Surgery We have performed a raft of functional bioassays to specifically interrogate the key functions of lymphatic endothelial cells during the course of radiation induced lymphodema and have developed genomic, proteomic and metabolic platforms to understand the key signalling and communication pathways between lymphatic endothelial cells and their microenvironment critical for disease evolution. CXCR7, a chemokine receptor was one such gene shown to be differentially expressed during radiation injury. We would like to understand the role of this orphan receptor in radiation injury in animal models of radiation-induced lymphodema. Dr Ramin Shayan rshayan@svi.edu.au Dr Tara Karnezis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Unravelling the causes of persistent exercise intolerance in cancer survivors Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Persistent exercise intolerance is a common side effect experienced by cancer survivors treated with chemotherapy, and may predispose cancer survivors to cardiovascular disease and poor quality of life. This project aims to utilise novel imaging techniques (MRI, ultrasound, DEXA) to understand the causes of exercise intolerance in cancer survivors previously treated with chemotherapy. 1 Dr Steve Foulkes steve.foulkes@baker.edu.au Dr Nicholas Saner Dr Erin Howden n/a Honours students
Unravelling the Inflammatory Signatures of Paediatric Respiratory Disease Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Unravelling the Inflammatory Signatures of Paediatric Respiratory Disease Dr Melanie Neeland melanie.neeland@mcri.edu.au Prof Sarath Ranganathan n/a PhD students
Use of a respiratory function monitor to improve training efficiency in neonatal face mask ventilation Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology Face-mask ventilation is the most frequent and important intervention clinicians provide in newborn resuscitation. This skill is difficult to master, mainly due to inadvertent mask leak. This randomised control trial will analyse the benefit of using a Respiratory Function Monitor (RFM), which provides feedback on mask leak and tidal volume, to improve clinicians’ self-learning efficiency in face-mask ventilation. 2 Dr MD PhD Marta Thio marta.thiolluch@thewomens.org.au Dr Kate Hodgson n/a Honours students
Using Artificial Intelligence to improve the diagnostic predictions of corneal topography machines for Keratoconus subjects Surgery, Ophthalmology, Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital Surgery Keratoconus is a common condition that affects the cornea and despite its increasing prevalence, the cause of keratoconus is largely unknown. There are many clinical gaps regarding keratoconus in terms of subclinical detection, clarifying its disease stage and identifying which features should be used to predict its progression. These gaps impact on a clinician’s decision-making process for keratoconus disease management. Dr Srujana Sahebjada srujana.sahebjada@unimelb.edu.au A/Prof Mark Daniel Prof Paul Baird n/a PhD students
Using Graph Theory and Neural Stem Cell Models to Understand Brain Network Resilience Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry The human brain is a profoundly complex system composed of robust and efficient connections, eloquently arranged to buffer against targeted attack. This project brings together network science (graph theory) and cutting-edge stem cell technologies to uncover the mechanisms that actively counteract risk (i.e., maximise resilience) and preserve brain function following targeted attack. This project is suited to an individual with a strong computationalengineering background. Experience in either developmental neurobiology or application of high-end microscopy is desired but not essential. 1 1 Dr Maria Di Biase dibiasem@unimelb.edu.au AProf. Andrew Zalesky Prof. Alice Pébay n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Using light to control brain activity Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine This project will use laser light to inhibit and activate a specific class of brain cell in mice, and observe how this impacts working memory Prof Nigel Jones Dr. Matt Hudson n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Using Marrow Adipose Tissue to Diagnose Osteoporosis and Predict Fragility Fractures Western Health Medicine Yearly 144,000 osteoporotic Australians fracture, that costs circa $4 billion. If fracture (Fx) risk is identified early, most Fx are preventable. Professor Gustavo Duque gustavo.duque@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ebrahim Bani Hassan n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Using novel animal and stem cell models to investigate the role of genetic cardiac arrhythmia in sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Florey Institute of Neuroscience & Mental Health Medicine We recently provided evidence that epilepsy patients carrying loss-of-function variants in a cardiac arrhythmia gene are at greater risk of sudden death, known as SUDEP. This project aims to understand how genetic cardiac arrhythmia contribute to SUDEP risk by using EEG-ECG to monitor the changes in brain and heart function during seizures and sudden deaths in novel SUDEP mouse models. Furthermore, the project aims to develop and measure electrophysiology of stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes, including 3D “mini heart” cardiac organoids, that express the cardiac arrhythmia variant identified in SUDEP patients. These models provide an opportunity to test cardio-protective strategies on SUDEP risk. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to learn to operate multi-electrode array system, optogenetics, patch-clamp electrophysiology, perform EEG-ECG surgery/monitoring/analysis, mouse handling/injections, stem cell culture, molecular biology, and be involved in manuscript preparation. 1 2 Professor Christopher Reid christopher.reid@unimelb.edu.au Dr Ming Soh n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students
Using parasite and vector serosurveillance to inform malaria elimination Burnet Institute Medicine Malaria is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the Asia-Pacific region, however efforts to eliminate the disease are limited by a lack of tools to sensitively detect and monitor malaria transmission over time. This project will focus on understanding how human antibody responses to the malaria parasite and mosquito vector can be used as biomarkers of malaria transmission in populations. It will involve quantifying host antibody dynamics in populations naturally exposed to malaria and will incorporate laboratory-based research and statistical analyses. 2 Professor Freya Fowkes freya.fowkes@burnet.edu.au Dr Julia Cutts Dr Katherine O'Flaherty n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Honours students; Master of Biomedical Science; Post Doctor Researchers
Using the JAK1/JAK2 Inhibitor Baricitinib to treat new-onset Type 1 diabetes St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine The goal of this project is to investigate whether the JAK inhibitor baricitinib dampens autoimmunity and preserves beta cell function in human type 1 diabetes. Prof Helen Thomas hthomas@svi.edu.au Prof Tom Kay n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Using Wearable Activity Trackers to Monitor Physical Activity in Older Adults Undergoing Exercise Interventions for Falls Western Health Medicine Exercise targeting improvements in muscle strength and balance is beneficial for the prevention of falls in older adults. However, it is difficult to monitor physical activity levels in older adults who have been prescribed exercise training. Wearable activity trackers, such as Fitbit, may provide a useful tool for monitoring physical activity in this population. Dr David Scott d.scott@unimelb.edu.au Professor Gustavo Duque n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Utilizing technology to optimise ADHD care Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics Real world clinical outcomes for ADHD fall far below those delivered in clinical trials. This project explores the use potential for improving outcomes through the use of wearable technologies and phones. Professor Dave Coghill david.coghill@unimelb.edu.au Dr Melissa Mulraney n/a Masters by Research
Validation of 4D Flow with Exercise using CMR Baker Department of Cardiometabolic Health Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) is a powerful tool for assessing heart function. Advanced CMR techniques include functional assessment during exercise, and three dimensional flow assessment over the cardiac cycle. We aim to assess the validity of 4D flow during exercise, at low, medium and high intensity in a group of trained athletes. 2 Doctor Ben Costello ben.costello@baker.edu.au A/Prof Andre La Gerche n/a Honours students
Vitamin D supplementation for prevention of allergy in the first year of life Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Paediatrics The rise in food allergy in developed countries is well documented. Early life determinants are thought to be key given the increase is most pronounced in children under 5 years of age. We have shown that low vitamin D at birth or during infancy is associated with an increased risk of food allergy and eczema and the prevalence of these diseases is higher the further away from the equator a person resides. Low vitamin D may play a role in aberrant immune development in early life and increase the risk of developing food allergy and eczema. VITALITY (n=2739, recruitment near completion) is a randomised placebo-controlled trial aiming to determine if vitamin D supplementation in the first year of life leads to a reduction in food allergy. VITALITY has an internationally unique comprehensive set of data variables from infants and families through questionnaires and clinic visits including oral food challenged confirmed food allergy, eczema and matched biological samples from 2 to 12 months of age. A/Prof Kirsten Perrett kirsten.perrett@mcri.edu.au Dr Jennifer Koplin n/a PhD students
What are antigens/epitopes are recognized in by islet-infiltrating CD8+ T cells in people with type 1 diabetes? St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine This project will reveal the epitopes seen by human CD8+ T cells strongly implicated in the immune pathogenesis of type 1 diabetes. The student will learn state-of-the-art human T-cell immunology, retroviral transduction and molecular biology techniques in a stimulating and supportive environment. A/Prof Stuart Mannering smannering@svi.edu.au Dr Colleen Elso Prof Helen Thomas n/a PhD students
What are the functional properties of human CD4+ T cells, from people with type 1 diabetes, that respond to proinsulin C-peptide? St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine The aim of this project is to use 10X Genomics single-cell sequencing to analyse the TCR usage and epitope specificity of human CD4+ T cells that respond to C-peptide. In addition, the genes expressed by CD4+ T cells specific for C-peptide, an autoantigen, will be compared to genes expressed by CD4+ T cells, from the same donor, who respond to the microbial antigens, influenza matrix protein and/or tetanus toxoid. This work will give unprecedented new insights into the function, and TCR diversity, human CD4+ T cells specific for microbial an autoantigens. A/Prof Stuart Mannering smannering@svi.edu.au Dr Colleen Elso Prof Helen Thomas n/a PhD students
What controls the development of strong cortical bone? St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research Medicine Studying cortical bone development has always been difficult because cortical bone develops at the same time as the rapid increase in bone size. We have developed a mouse model that has defective cortical bone formation, including defective skull formation, which provides an opportunity to understand those signalling pathways that contribute to the formation of the layers of the skull. Using in vivo micro-computed tomography and histology on archived samples, this project will map the process of cortical bone formation in the skull, and how it is modified in two different mutant mouse models. Prof Natalie Sims nsims@svi.edu.au n/a PhD students
When might the brain go wrong: the role of immune cells at critical time-points during development Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry Multiple neuropsychiatric disorders from autism to depression and schizophrenia are characterised by altered brain connectivity and synaptic functioning. Key players in the development of synaptic connections are the brain’s immune cells, the microglia. The aim of this project is to utilise a mouse model to identify specific neurodevelopmental stages when the brain is most vulnerable to microglial activity. Professor Christos Pantelis cpant@unimelb.edu.au Dr Liliana Laskaris n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
White matter imaging in the aging brain Royal Melbourne Hospital Medicine The aim of this study is to study the influence of microstructure in the aging brain and its effects on dementia diagnosis. Dr Chris Steward csteward@unimelb.edu.au Prof Roland Bammer Dr Vijay Venkatraman n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
WomenCAN: Promoting and advancing women’s health and wellbeing after cancer Royal Women’s Hospital Obstetrics and Gynaecology The impact of cancer goes beyond just the treatment phase. Dr Michelle Peate mpeate@unimelb.edu.au Prof Martha Hickey n/a PhD students; Masters by Research
Younger-onset dementia - carer mental health and service use. Royal Melbourne Hospital Psychiatry The risk factors associated with adverse mental health in carers of people with younger-onset dementia needs further information in order to tailor intervention and support strategies. Dr Samantha Loi samantha.loi@unimelb.edu.au Professor Dennis Velakoulis n/a PhD students; Masters by Research; Post Doctor Researchers
Your Muscles Matter – The Sarcopenia Study Western Health Medicine Sarcopenia is associated with age-related loss of muscle mass and strength that can lead to reduced mobility, falls, fractures, loss of independence, and can become life threatening if undiagnosed and untreated. Sarcopenia is now formally recognised as a disease, which will increase awareness, diagnosis, and interest in treatments. A/Prof Alan Hayes hayes.a@unimelb.edu.au Dr. David Scott n/a PhD students; Masters by Research