Neuroprotective benefit and safety of preterm neonatal sulfate supplementation

Project opportunity

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 new study will investigate whether sulfate therapy reduces the risk of developing adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes after preterm birth. The study, led by Associate Professor Paul Dawson, has been awarded a grant by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The study is being undertaken following evidence that sulfate is important for brain development and that preterm infants rapidly become sulfate deficient unless their mother receives magnesium sulfate during preterm labour. Magnesium sulfate is currently administered to mothers in preterm labour at less than 30 weeks gestation and reduces the risk of cerebral palsy in the infant. However, almost half of women miss out on this neuroprotective therapy due to insufficient time to give the treatment. To address these challenges, this NHMRC-funded project will investigate both safety and neuroprotective benefit aspects of neonatal sulfate supplementation using an established and clinically relevant preterm animal model. The study is designed specifically to support direct translation to a clinical trial of sulfate supplementation in very preterm infants. The successful applicant will join the Neurodevelopmental Research group led by A/Prof Paul Dawson at Mater Research and the University of Queensland.

Scholarship value

As a scholarship recipient, you'll receive: 

  • living stipend of $32,192 per annum tax free (2023 rate), indexed annually
  • tuition fees covered
  • single Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)


Dr Paul Dawson

Faculty of Medicine


Preferred educational background

Your application will be assessed on a competitive basis.

We take into account your

  • previous academic record
  • publication record
  • honours and awards
  • employment history.

A working knowledge of neuroscience and physiology would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of physiology, neurobiology, biochemistry and/or molecular biology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of molecular biology is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2024. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date.

If you are an international applicant, you may need to apply much earlier for visa requirements.

How to apply

You apply for this project as part of your PhD program application.

View application process