Identifying earlier biomarkers for neurodevelopmental outcomes in infants born very preterm: Advanced neuroimaging, clinical assessment and EEG

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance. This scholarship is open to Australian citizens, permanent residents and International students who are currently in Australia at the time of application and commencement.

Supervisor – Dr Joanne Georgej.george2@uq.edu.au

This project aims to identify early clinical, advanced MRI and EEG biomarkers to identify preterm infants at risk of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes earlier than has been possible before. It is part of the PREBO-6 longitudinal cohort study, a cohort of 262 infants born <31 weeks gestational age, with early neonatal advanced MRI and follow up at 1, 2 and 6 years corrected age.  This is the first and only study of MRI in the neonatal period in Australia, one of only a few cohorts in the world and the only cohort with concurrent clinical assessment at both MRI timepoints (30-32 weeks postmenstrual age; teram equivalent age). Please click the following weblink to our recent publication describing the PREBO-6 study protocol.

Potential candidates will have a strong interest in clinical research in the field of paediatrics and particularly in neonatal and developmental medicine and neuroscience. The successful candidate will belong to a highly productive multidisciplinary research environment that has strong collaborations across Australia, India, New Zealand, and USA. Doctoral training from the highly ranked Faculty of Medicine at The University of Queensland will be an ideal opportunity for medical and nonmedical graduates from related healthcare fields (e.g., health science, neuroscience, nursing, physiotherapy/physical therapy, psychology, and/or public health) who are planning for an academic and/or clinical research career.

PhD projects within the PREBO-6 cohort study could include:

  1. Examining the relationship between early clinical, MRI and/or EEG measures and 6 year motor outcomes (suited to medicine or physiotherapy doctoral student)
  2. Examining the relationships between early clinical, MRI and/or EEG measures and 6 year cognitive, language and/or executive function outcomes (well suited to a psychology or neuropsychology student)
  3. Advanced imaging analyses with MRI data and relationships with clinical measures (well suited to a doctoral student with an engineering or physics background)

Further information concerning the scope, qualifications, scholarship and other details can be obtained from Dr. Joanne George (j.george2@uq.edu.au), A/Prof Samudragupta Bora (samudragupta.bora@mater.uq.edu.au), Dr. Alex Pagnozzi (alex.pagnozzi@csiro.au).

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of early detection and clinical assessments used for screening infants at risk of adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes (General Movements assessment, Hammersmith Neonatal Neurological Examination, Test of Infant Motor Performance) and/or neuroimaging and/or advanced diffusion MRI and/or childhood assessments of motor/cognition/language/executive function would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of paediatics, neonatology, neuroscience, medicine, allied health and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of child development, brain development or neuroimaging is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

Apply now