Very Early Biomarkers of Cerebral Palsy

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.

A team of international experts in the field of Cerebral Palsy are seeking a cohort of PhD scholars to join them in investigating the very early biomarkers of infants/ fetuses at higher risk of Cerebral Palsy. The Team are commencing a large multisite prospective cohort study e-PINO Early Prediction of Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney (total n=560). Three Category 1 scholars are sought who may be interested in the any of the following areas:

  1. Very early clinical biomarkers of neurological, neurobehavioural, infant regulation features in the newborn/fetal period (including General Movements (MOS/GMOS), Hammersmith Neonatal Neurological Exam), visual assessments etc to determine combinations of biomarkers to determine adverse neurodevelopmental outcome (including Cerebral Palsy, delayed motor, cognitive, language development). (CIs Ros Boyd, Iona Novak, Cathy Morgan, Paul Colditz, Rod Hunt, Nadia Badawi, Atul Malhotra, Andrea Guzzetta, Ari Bos).
  2. Advanced Neuroimaging in the newborn and fetal period to determine early biomarkers of adverse neurodevelopmental outcome (including neonatal/ fetal, structural MRI at 3T, diffusion MRI, NODDI, Connectome, Resting state fMRI). (CIs Jurgen Fripp, Kerstin Pannek, Alex Pagnozzi, Rod Hunt, Ros Boyd, Simona Fiori, Michael Fahey)
  3. High Density EEG to determine features of newborn brain waves including (Brain waves, Connectivity) (CIs James Roberts, Paul Colditz, Melissa Lai).
  4. Liquid Biopsy (novel blood and urine biomarkers) are being developed with the team at CSIRO (CI’s Stephen Rose, Jurgen Fripp, Warwick Locke). Gut Microbiome (Severine Nevarro).
  5. Genomics of early brain development from the neonatal period (CIs Michael Fahey, Mark Corbett, Josef Getz are senior members of the International CP Genomics Consortium).
  6. Very early interventions to optimize neuroplasticity: having identified infants at higher chance of adverse neurodevelopmental outcome we will design, pilot and test novel early neurorehabilitation commencing in the first months of life (CIs Ros Boyd, Leanne Sakzewski, Iona Novak, Cathy Morgan).
  7. Other areas related to Cerebral Palsy Research: Epidemiology (Sarah McIntyre, Nadia Badawi); Health Economics (Tracy Comans); Biostatistics (Rob Ware).

The candidates could have an interest in one or more areas and can discuss options for PhD topics with any of the investigators. As the Category 1 Scholarships are funded through the University of Queensland the candidate would be enrolled through UQ with a primary UQ supervisor and can have other supervisors from other institutions in the investigator team. The Successful candidates would receive a 3 PhD scholarship with Opportunities for Top-ups with CSIRO.

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)


Professor Roslyn Boyd

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 Early detection (General Movements Assessment, Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination), Magnetic Resonance Imaging, EEG and early childhood interventions would be of benefit to someone working on this project but are not essential as these are skills that can also be gained as part of the PhD program.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of medicine including paediatrics, neonatology, neurology, genomics, radiology, allied health (Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy), nursing, basic science, epidemiology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of paediatrics, neonatology, child health, and cerebral palsy/disability is highly desirable.

Latest commencement date

If you are the successful candidate, you must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2025. 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