Preventing adverse events during paediatric cancer treatment: A multi-site hybrid randomised controlled trial of catheter lock solutions

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.

One of the first procedures a child undergoes when being treated for cancer is the insertion of a central venous access device (CVAD). This hollow catheter is inserted into the great vessels leading to the heart, allowing the administration of treatments (e.g., chemotherapy) and supportive therapies (e.g., blood transfusions, antibiotics). Despite how vital these CVADs are, they can result in systemic infections, thromboses or blockages.

When the CVAD is not in use, it is locked it with fluid. This fluid lock is an opportunity to prevent CVAD-associated complications.

Clinicians do not know which lock solution to prescribe and administer to protect children. Our practice varies between institution, clinician, and child, with scant data (3 trials, <600 participants total) to inform decision-making. Predictably, current practice swings between traditional choices: normal saline (i.e., an inactive solution) and low-dose heparinised saline (i.e., a potentially anti-thrombotic solution). An old medication (EDTA) has been newly reconstituted as a CVAD lock solution (T-EDTA) to prevent infections, thromboses and blockages, but its clinical effectiveness is unclear.

Through a Type-1 hybrid (effectiveness-implementation) multisite, randomised controlled trial, we will identify which of these traditional (saline, heparinised saline) or new (T-EDTA) solutions are effective in paediatric cancer care, and determine the optimal implementation strategy to incorporate best CVAD locking into routine cancer practice and policy across Australia 

Our clinical trial includes 855 CVAD-based treatments for children, and will be based across Australia, including children, families, clinicians and scientists from tertiary paediatric hospitals and their regional network hospitals. We will work together to try to prevent systemic infections, thromboses and other complications interrupting a child’s treatment for cancer.

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)


Name: Professor Amanda Ullman

School: School of Nursing, Midwifery & Social Work

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 paediatric and/or cancer nursing would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of healthcare and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of paediatric and/or cancer nursing 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