Vacation scholarships

Vacation Scholarships

Division of Health Sciences High Achiever Research Vacation Scholarships

  • Are you an undergraduate student with a strong academic record interested in exploring or wishing to pursue a higher degree by research?
     
  • Do you want to find out whether doing research in your field of study is your future career direction?
     
  • Do you want to work with experienced researchers and interact with research students and earn $300 a week undertaking research?
     
  • Are you available for up to 8 weeks between November 2018 and February 2019 to undertake a research project in a recognised research institute or centre within the Division?
     
  • Opportunities are available to domestic (Australian citizens or permanent residents, or New Zealand citizens) and international students. 

If you are in your second, third or honours year and have a strong academic record, a Vacation Research Scholarship may be for you and can provide a platform to learn about the principles and practices of undertaking research.

The Scholarships are offered annually and online applications open on 30 July 2018 and close on 9 September 2018.

How to apply

  • Explore the list of vacation projects on offer through the Division of Health Sciences and find a project of interest to you.
  • Contact the nominated supervisor directly to discuss your application as they are required to provide a supporting statement and approve your application before submission.
  • Read and follow the application instructions (PDF 110KB).
  • Applications are submitted online through myScholarships, accessed via your myUniSA student portal.
  • Complete the application support form  (Word doc, 101kb) together with your myScholarships application.

Refer to the Graduate Research vacation scholarship website for full details.

List of Vacation Scholarship projects 2018-19

Allied Health Evidence   

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity

Project keyword(s)

Human: animal intersection, Pets, companion animals

Project title

Audit of online pet rescue and foster care(ers) 

Project summary

In recent times pet fostering is booming! Facebook, petrescue.com, AWL etc – there is a diverse range of organisations, individuals and entities who seem to be undertaking this important work.

If we are to take the human: animal intersection seriously (pets are being shown as significant in the health and wellbeing of a range of vulnerable groups of people eg aged, homeless, mental unwellness) we need to start to understand this space as at times people whose wellbeing is tied to an animal may have a need for accessible, caring, pet care. Currently pet rescuing and fostering is unregulated and largely informal; there is a need to understand this system in order to be able to match animal carers with people and pets in need of such a service.

The project will be predominately an online audit (criteria development to be part of the project) however we have connections with Animal Welfare League and RSPCA and should students wish to have some contact with pet carers this should be possible to facilitate.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Carmel Nottle
Tel: +61 8 8302 1443
carmel.nottle@unisa.edu.au

Dr Janette Young
Tel: +61 8 8302 2616
janette.young@unisa.edu.au


School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

 

Project keyword(s)

Hypermobility, strength

Project title

Do people with thumb hypermobility have the same pinch strength as those without thumb hypermobility?

Project summary

The researcher would assess a convenience sample of 50 or more adults for hypermobility and for pinch strength. The testing and equipment are available and ethical committee approval has been gained.  They would investigate any difference between those who are and are not hypermobile.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Nicola Massy-Westropp
Tel: +61 8 8302 2486
nicola.massy-westropp@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity

Project keyword(s)

Human: animal intersection, pets, companion animals

Project title

Scoping of animal observation tools 

Project summary

To undertake research observing animals there is a need to have a toolkit of valid and reliable observation tools.

The aim of this project is to find what is available, what is measured, and what are the gaps in this field eg there are stress measurement tools, are there happiness measurement ones? Are there tools that encompass most companion animals, or is the dog-preference continued into this space as well?!

A student would work with the researchers to undertake this project and develop a draft journal submission.

Contact person and details

(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Carmel Nottle
Tel: +61 8 8302 1443
carmel.nottle@unisa.edu.au

Dr Janette Young
Tel: +61 8 8302 2616
janette.young@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence

Project keyword(s)

Normal values, abdominal muscles

Project title

What is the normal relationship/ratio between the cross-sectional thickness of three abdominal muscles in healthy adults?

Project summary

Low back pain literature cites underdevelopment and poor usage of the deepest abdominal muscle in people with back pain. The researcher would assess a convenience sample of 50 or more healthy adults for observing abdominal muscle size ratio, assessed by diagnostic ultrasound. UniSA has a portable machine for this purpose, and an experienced clinician on this project team.

The researcher would recruit healthy participants and screen them for low back pain. The participant would learn how to scan the lateral abdominal wall to evaluate the cross-section of the transversus abdominis, internal and external oblique, and then calculate a ‘normal’ ratio of the thickness between these muscles.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Nicola Massy-Westropp
+61 8 8302 2486
nicola.massy-westropp@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences            

Centre/Institute

  

Project keyword(s)

Arthritis, thumb, orthoses

Project title

What is the effect of a hand based splint on the alignment of the thumb CMC joint during pinch, in people with osteoarthritis? 

Project summary

The researcher would recruit 10 people with arthritis of the thumb and 10 comparison; would assist in scanning their thumbs during pinch activities, while they wear a splint and while they do not.  This project has ethical committee approval and has the co-operation of rheumatologists for recruitment of patients.

What is the effect of an external brace upon the thumb carpometacarpal joint?

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Nicola Massy-Westropp
+61 8 8302 2486
nicola.massy-westropp@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence

Project keyword(s)

interventions, ageing workforce, worker, manual handling, health promotion

Project title

Practical interventions for the ageing workforce

Project summary

With an ageing population in Australia, South Australian companies have requested assistance with practical strategies to  help them assist their older staff members who wish to remain in the workforce. This project will examine factors that enable South Australian companies to retain older workers. It will involve a literature review, the writing of a research proposal and an ethics proposal. It may also include further consultation with industry partners.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Rose Boucaut
Tel: +61 8 8302 2068
rose.boucaut@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence

Project keyword(s)

Economic evaluation

Project title

An economic evaluation of the Work Health and Safety Practice course at UniSA.

Project summary

Final year physiotherapy students undertake a 4.5 unit course on Work Health and Safety. The economic benefits of this course are yet to be more fully explored.  Method: a return on investment approach will be taken. During the vacation a research proposal and an ethics proposal will be developed to enable consultation with a suite of stakeholders and a review of past student projects. The stakeholders include staff from host organisations, teaching staff and students. Past projects will be reviewed in a descriptive manner to analyse content.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Rose Boucaut
Tel: +61 8 8302 2068
rose.boucaut@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence

Project keyword(s)

Occupational therapy student, placement, client outcome, service outcomes

Project title

How do students value add to service delivery outcomes? 

Project summary

 Developing an informed understanding of the ways occupational therapy students can add value to services is essential to support the ongoing development of placement opportunities in environments that is resource poor. 

An in-depth exploration of a service that integrates student learning and contribution within the organisation to enhance service/ client outcomes can provide clues as to how future placement opportunities can be created.  Using case study methodology this project will provide the scholarship participant an opportunity to learn skills in mixed method research implementation.  

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Ms Susan Gilbert Hunt
Tel: +61 8 8302 2692
susan.gilbert-hunt@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence

Project keyword(s)

Women’s Health

Project title

Update of the Clinical Guidelines for the use of support pessaries in the management of pelvic organ prolapse 

Project summary

This project will involve commencement of the process for the update of the Clinical Guidelines for the use of support pessaries in the management of pelvic organ prolapse (2012). Students will undertake systematic review updates to underpin the update of these guidelines under tutelage of Centre staff.  

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Ms Alison Bell
Tel: +61 8 8302 2594
alison.bell@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence

Project keyword(s)

Foot, Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction, sEMG, Electromyography

Project title

The use of surface electromyography to determine tibialis posterior tendon dysfunction 

Project summary

The tibialis posterior muscle primarily serves as a dynamic stabiliser of the foot’s medial longitudinal arch, working as an antagonist to the tibialis anterior muscle (Blasimann et al. 2015). Dysfunction of the tibialis posterior tendon affects up to 10% of older people and often results in adult acquired flatfoot deformity (AAFD),(KohlsGatzoulis et al. 2004). People with AAFD often seek podiatry and physiotherapy services. Delayed identification and treatment of AAFD can result in rigid, painful deformities which may require surgical ankle fusions (Park 2012). Previous research has identified that AAFD results in changes in activation and timing for both tibialis posterior and tibialis anterior muscles. The gold standard for determining the activation and timing of tibialis posterior is intramuscular electromyography (EMG); however, this is often limited in application due to the pain and risk involved with its use. Concurrently, surface EMG (sEMG) technology is becoming more affordable and more likely to be employed within physiotherapy and podiatry practices. This study aims to explore whether sEMG investigations of tibialis posterior and tibialis anterior muscles are a suitable alternative to intra-muscular EMG, when compared to ultrasound scans, for the purposes of identifying tibialis posterior tendon dysfunction

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Helen Banwell
Tel: +61 8 8302 1256
helen.banwell@unisa.edu.au

Dr Ryan Causby
Tel: +61 8 8302 1274
ryan.causby@unisa.edu.au

A/Prof Steve Milanese
Tel:  +61 8 8302 1053
steve.milanese@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence

Project keyword(s)

Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS), sensory changes

Project title

Effects of dosage parameters on post- Transcutaneous Nerve Stimulation (TENS) sensory changes in normal subjects 

Project summary

This project will involve development of a research protocol for the analysis of post-TENS sensory changes related to dosage parameters such as pulse duration, frequency and duration. Students will develop the methodology in conjunction with evidence from the literature, pilot test data collection and prepare a formal Research Protocol document. Centre staff will help the student through this process. 

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

A/Prof Steve Milanese
Tel:  +61 8 8302 1053
steve.milanese@unisa.edu.au


School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

International Centre for Allied Health Evidence

Project keyword(s)

Foot, Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction, diagnosis, management

Project title

Scoping the diagnosis and management of Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction 

Project summary

Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD) is a progressive condition and the most common cause of adult acquired flatfoot deformity, with a prevalence as high as 10% in an elderly population (Kohls-Gatzoulis et al. (2004b). In addition to being the cause of significant pain, dysfunction can severely impact on both gait and balance (Kohls-Gatzoulis et al. 2004a), and therefore the confidence, mobility and independence of sufferers (Durrant et al. 2016; Edwards et al. 2008). PTTD is diagnosis is often missed or late, contributing to its progression. Furthermore, sufferers often present to a wide array of health professionals, including general practitioners, orthopaedic specialists, physiotherapists and podiatrists, who may utilise a variety of different observations, clinical tests and approaches to management. This has led to a rather disjointed approach to the diagnosis and management of the condition, particularly during the early stages. Consequently, in this project we aim to scope the broad array of management techniques utilised by the various health professions via a scoping review and then identify the clinical indicators, and reasoning processes regarding management choices undertaken by each of the professions via an online survey.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Ryan Causby
Tel: +61 8 8302 1274
ryan.causby@unisa.edu.au

Dr Helen Banwell
Tel: +61 8 8302 1256
helen.banwell@unisa.edu.au

A/Prof Steve Milanese
Tel:  +61 8 8302 1053
steve.milanese@unisa.edu.au

Biomaterials and Nanomedicine   

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Blencowe Group

Project keyword(s)

3D bioprinting, bioinks, assays, cell culture

Project title

Development of bioinks for 3D bioprinting of cells

Project Summary

3D printing has emerged as an advanced manufacturing technique that has revolutionized numerous industrial sectors. In the medical and pharmaceuticals sectors, 3D printing offers the potential to rapidly generate complex tissue constructs and organs from single cells that will pave the way for advances in regenerative medicine and drug development, tackling current health care challenges. However, 3D bioprinting for biomedical applications requires specific biocompatible materials – bioinks – that are suited for the manufacturing process. These bioinks must have a number of important characteristics, including printability, mechanical integrity, biocompatibility, and promote cell growth and function. Therefore, the goal of this project is to develop new bioinks and methods for the 3D printing of biological tissues and organs.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Anton Blencowe
Tel: +61 8 8302 2493
anton.blencowe@unisa.edu.au

 

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Blencowe Group

Project keyword(s)

pH responsive, micelle, drug delivery

Project title

pH Responsive Delivery Systems for the Intracellular Delivery of Therapeutics

Project Summary

Many types of cancer evade normal cell death cycles by switching their energy production from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis. This project aims to develop a pH responsive, therapeutic delivery system that can reverse this process, and involves the development of polymer micelles for the targeted delivery of glycolysis inhibitors that target the metabolism of cancer cells. The micelles are designed to target cancer cells and undergo pH triggered disassembly at the endosomal pH, resulting in inhibitor release inside the cancer cells. The potential outcome of the project is a novel and safer approach to the treatment of multi-drug resistant cancers that are not treatable using traditional chemotherapeutic agents.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Anton Blencowe
Tel: +61 8 8302 2493
anton.blencowe@unisa.edu.au

 

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Blencowe Group

Project keyword(s)

oxygen delivery, microparticles, oxygen deficiency

Project title

Oxygen delivery technologies for treatment of medical conditions 

Project summary

Oxygen is central to all life on earth. Humans and human tissues in particular require very specific levels of oxygen to function normally, without which the results can be devastating. Thus, it comes as no surprise that there are numerous medical conditions, diseases and emergencies related to oxygen deficiencies and starvation, many of which are life threatening. However, there are currently no therapeutic products on the market that provide rapid treatment of medical situations related to oxygen deficiency. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop a microparticle technology that can deliver oxygen over a sustained period. The potential outcome of the project is a novel treatment for oxygen deficiency, which has implications for heart failure or stroke victims, the treatment of anemic disorders and emergencies (e.g., blood loss), organ transplantation, and in situ tissue regeneration.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Anton Blencowe
Tel: +61 8 8302 2493
anton.blencowe@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Blencowe Group

Project keyword(s)

peptides, organic synthesis, amino acids

Project title

Revolutionizing peptide synthesis

Project summary

The global market for peptide therapeutics is worth over US $21 billion, and is expected to double over the next 5 years. The most widely applied method for manufacturing peptides involves the use of a technique known as solid phase peptide synthesis, which involves the repetitive coupling of protected amino acids. The major disadvantages with this method are the poor atom efficiency, generation of large amounts of waste by-products and high cost. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop an alternative approach that is less wasteful, more environmentally friendly, quicker and cheaper.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Anton Blencowe
Tel: +61 8 8302 2493
anton.blencowe@unisa.edu.au

Cancer Biology   

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Cancer Biology / Cytokine Receptor Laboratory

Project keyword(s)

Leukaemia, receptor function, therapeutic cytokines

Project title

Investigating the role of the cytokine IL-3 in leukaemia and its potential for novel therapeutic interventions.

Project summary

Interleukin-3 (IL-3) is a multifunctional cytokine that acts on multiple cell types in the haemopoietic and immune systems. IL-3 signals through a heterodimeric receptor composed of the IL-3 receptor alpha subunit (IL3Ra) and the b common subunit (bc). We have two projects that study IL-3 in leukaemia.

Role of IL3Ra overexpression in AML

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a devastating disease with a poor prognosis and limited treatment options. Overexpression of IL3Ra is a prominent feature of several myeloid malignancies and correlates with reduced patient survival in AML. Understanding how IL3Ra overexpression contributes to pathology will contribute to the development of better treatment options for patients with AML. In this project we will determine differences in (1) the IL-3 signalling complex (signalosome) and (2) the active IL-3 signalling pathways, in cells from AML patients with IL3Ra overexpression. These studies are expected to identify new biomarkers and targets for therapy in AML.

Development of selective cytokine agonists to modify leukaemia

To help understand IL-3 signalling, we have determined the 3-D structure of the IL-3 receptor signalling complex and have characterised IL-3 receptor complex assembly and signalling. Our studies provide evidence of biased IL-3 signalling that may be exploited to develop therapeutic variants of IL-3 with a more favourable safety profile. In this project we will analyse a collection of IL-3 variants with selectively modified receptor interactions to (1) better understand IL-3 function and (2) to investigate the therapeutic potential of biased IL-3 variants. These variants could be used to treat patients with leukaemia, chemotherapy-induced leucopenia in patients with various solid tumours or patients with haematogical disorders such as aplastic anaemia.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Tim Hercus
Tel:  +61 8 8302 7947
timothy.hercus@unisa.edu.au 

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Cancer Biology

Project keyword(s)

Cancer, Blood vessels

Summary

The Vascular Biology and Cell Trafficking laboratory studies the intricate network of blood vessels that carry white blood cells throughout our body and contribute to normal and disease states. With a focus on translating our findings into outcomes for better human health, our work aims to provide new opportunities to (i) prevent tumours from growing and metastasising in cancer patients and (ii) promote blood vessel function in patients with diabetes.

Project title

New discoveries in cancer 

Project summary

The growth and spread of cancer is dependent on an ability to access the blood supply. To do this, cancer cells not only promote blood vessel sprouting (angiogenesis) but also form vessel-like structures themselves (vasculogenic mimicry (VM)). Our recent work has identified new VM targets in breast cancer and melanoma (Tan et al, Oncotarget, 2016; Tan et al Clin Trans Immunol, 2017). A better understanding of how blood vessels promote tumour growth will provide new treatment options for patients with cancer.

Techniques: Cutting edge technology will be used alongside cell culture, surface antigen expression by flow cytometry, protein detection by Western blot, in vitro blood vessel forming assays, gene expression by real time PCR, immunohistochemistry of human biopsies and high-end microscopy (including confocal and multiphoton).

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Associate Professor Claudine Bonder
Tel:  +61 8 8302 7833
claudine.bonder@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

UniSA Cancer Research Institute

Project keyword(s)

gender; radiation therapy; chemotherapy

Project title

Gender-dependent radio/chemotherapy: the next step towards personalised medicine? 

Project summary

Beside surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are the most common treatment approaches in the management of malignant tumours. The aim of radio/chemotherapy is to achieve a high therapeutic ratio, through a well-designed delivery of their corresponding agents. While personalised treatment is gaining more space in today’s oncology, patients are still treated based on general protocols that do not take into consideration all individual aspects that might influence the outcome. Gender-based treatment is a relatively new aspect that is researched by the scientific community. Owing to physiological, genetical and radiobiological differences between the two genders, it was shown that both tumour control as well as adverse events are influenced by gender and might even imply the need for different dose constraints. A number of studies show gender-dependent response after radio-chemotherapy of nonhormonal cancers (such as oesophageal, anal, lung), some of these dissimilarities being linked to gender-related radiosensitivities. These results may have an important impact on risk assessment after radiation exposure in females and males and would require further treatment personalisation that includes the gender aspect.

This project aims to conduct a literature review of all published pre-clinical and clinical studies that evaluated gender-dependent treatment response to radiation and/or chemotherapy among cancer patients. The results will be summarised in a report with the aim to publish.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Prof Eva Bezak
Tel: +61 8 8302 1826
eva.bezak@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Cancer Biology / Translational Oncology Laboratory

Project keyword(s)

Brain tumours, glioblastoma, immunotherapy, T cells, translational cancer research

Project title

Advancing T cell therapy for glioblastoma

Project summary

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and lethal form of malignant brain tumour. Even with current best-practise approaches to treatment, survival time from diagnosis is only ~15 months. Hence, there is an urgent need for more effective therapies. Our team aims to develop a novel approach to GBM treatment which harnesses the power and specificity of the immune system to specifically target cancer cells, using Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell technology. This approach is already showing enormous promise in the treatment of some forms of leukaemia but has not yet been widely adopted for the treatment of solid tumours such as GBM.

The CAR-T cell technique uses killer T cells from the patient’s own blood, which are ‘re-directed’ using genetic engineering techniques to specifically recognise molecules on the surface of tumour cells (tumour antigens). This allows the killer T cells to unleash their armoury of toxic molecules onto tumour cells, while leaving healthy cells alone. Our team aims to develop a new CAR-T cell therapy for GBM, and the student project will contribute to this aim by performing techniques such as:

  • analysis of patient tumour cells and tissues by immunofluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry
  • functional studies to test the ability of the CAR-T cells to kill tumour cells

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Lisa Ebert
Tel: +61 8 8302 7817
lisa.ebert@unisa.edu.au

 

Neuroscience   

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Body in Mind

Project keyword(s)

Body perception, body schema, neuropathic pain

Project title

Diabetic Foot Perception Project 

Project summary

One of the complications arising from Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN).  There are two aspects to DPN: in many cases people lose feeling to their extremities due to demyelination of nerves. This is often a stocking-glove presentation, starting most distally and extending superiorly over time.  Frequently this may lead to a ‘hyperexcitability’ of the nerves leading to an amplification of nociceptive processing, referred to as neuropathic pain, a chronic pain condition.

In some chronic pain-type conditions such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Chronic Low Back Pain, patients have an altered body perception, in particular of the painful part. These altered perceptions of the body co-occur with changes in the sensory and motor representations in the brain and appear to play a role in pain (i.e., when brain changes normalise, pain reduces).  However, it is not known if people with DPN have altered perceptions of their painful body part and whether brain changes are also associated with neuropathic pain that occurs with DPN.

Thus, the aim of this project is to investigate if body perception or sensory or motor representations are differentially affected in people with DPN, with and without neuropathic pain. 

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Ryan Causby
Tel: +61 8 8302 1274
ryan.causby@unisa.edu.au 

Dr Tasha Stanton
Tel: +61 8 8302 2090
tasha.stanton@unisa.edu.au

Nutrition and Exercise   

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)

Project keyword(s)

Team norms, sport, group dynamics, sport psychology

Project title

Group and team norms in sport: a scoping literature review 

Project summary

In sport, team norms reflect the ‘unwritten’ rules governed by social pressure to engage in certain behaviours. While there has been a variety of group and team norms research in sport since the early 1990’s, there has yet to be a review summarising that research and identifying gaps within the literature. This project will encompass a thorough literature search, abstract/title screening, full text screening, data extraction, and writing of a manuscript. The student will be involved in some or all aspects of the review, which will be completed within the 8-week time-frame.

Contact person and details

(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Alyson Crozier, Lecturer: Sport and Exercise Psychology

Tel: +61 8 8302 2094

alyson.crozier@unisa.edu.au

  

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)

Project keyword(s)

Eye gaze, shooting mechanics, basketball

Project title

Eye gaze behaviour during the basketball jump shot

Project summary

Where the eye fixates or focuses upon has been shown to effect skill performance in a range of sports. In basketball the control of eye fixations and duration of fixations has been stated to be a major factor in being either a good or poor shooter. Using specialised equipment, this study will examine eye mechanics in conjunction with a full body biomechanics model to analyse multiple jumps shoots in basketball to determine the difference between elite and amateur players.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Robert Crowther
Tel: +61 8 8302 1540
robert.crowther@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)

Project keyword(s)

Basketball, strength and conditioning, performance

Project title

The development of a basketball specific skill test

Project summary

The use of a specific sporting skills test is an attempt by sport scientist to examine movement and skill ability of an athlete. There are many specific skills tests for a range of sports except basketball. This project will examine the movement dynamics and skills involved in basketball with the goal to develop a reliable skills test that can be used by coaches and sport scientists to evaluate athletic ability.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Robert Crowther
Tel: +61 8 8302 1540
robert.crowther@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)

Project keyword(s)

Patellar tendinopathy, jumping, basketball

Project title

The impact of patellar tendinopathy on lower limb mechanics during repeated countermovements jumps after isometric contractions

Project summary

This project aims to investigate the effects that repeated countermovement jumps will have on athletes lower limb joint mechanics who are suffering from patellar tendinopathy before and after isometric weighted back squats. Biomechanical analysis of lower limb joint range of motion and muscle dynamics will be analysed.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Robert Crowther
Tel: +61 8 8302 1540
robert.crowther@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)

Project keyword(s)

Baseball, throwing, juniors

Project title

A comparison of pitch types on the kinematics and kinetics at the elbow joint in youth baseball players

Project summary

This project aims to compare elbow kinematics and kinetics across a variety of pitch types among youth baseball pitchers. There may be a more efficient motion of the elbow joint that reduces the torque at the elbow, thereby reducing the risk of extreme elbow injury that requires reparative surgery.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Robert Crowther
Tel: +61 8 8302 1540
robert.crowther@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)

Project keyword(s)

Cancer, home, exercise, program

Project title

Feasibility of a home based exercise therapy for cancer patients being treated at home

Project summary

The role of exercise in cancer treatment has been shown to be extremely beneficial however, to increase adherence and reduce the impact of travel on patients this study looks to examine the role of a home based exercise therapy program for cancer patients that are currently receiving cancer treatment at home.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Robert Crowther
Tel: +61 8 8302 1540
robert.crowther@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity (ARENA)

Project keyword(s)

Nutrition, Fertility, Analysis

Project title

Calibration of LONZA LAL endotoxin test kits under conditions of metabolic endotoxemia 

Project summary

Background: Recently, clinical observations reveal that persistent low-grade inflammation is associated with the pathogenesis of severe chronic diseases. Intriguingly, low levels of circulating Gram-negative bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) appear to be one of the key culprits in provoking a non-resolving low-grade inflammation. Adverse life styles such as chronic consumption of alcohol, smoking, stress, obesity and a high fat diet, periodontal disease and aging can all contribute to the rise of circulating endotoxin levels and lead to low-grade endotoxemia which may result in the onset of a number of inflammatory diseases.

Statement of the problem: The LAL assay has been used to determine ‘low level’ metabolic endotoxemia in blood samples in the literature, yet no studies have calibrated these results against the indirect LBP measure of endotoxemia as a confirmatory measure of the results. Additionally, there is no consistency in the reported methodology used, with many studies reporting variable heat treatments and dilution rates or pre-treatments and none reporting pH adjustments or sample storage conditions.

We have just received funding from LONZA to conduct a series of trials to optimise this methodology on the condition the results a published in a reputable journal.

Student qualities: This is a laboratory based project and the student will be working with me in the lab. They will need to have meticulous laboratory skills as analytical results will be confirmed by a secondary method and both positive and negative controls will be used. This project is also part of a larger project examining male and female fertility, diet and gut barrier function and would suit students wishing to pursue this area of research in the future.

Location: City East campus

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Karma Pearce
Tel: +61 8 8302 1133
karma.pearce@unisa.edu.au

 

Pharmacy and Medical Sciences   

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre

Project keyword(s)

Cancer medicines, consumer information

Project title

Consumer-friendly information tools on the benefits and risks of new cancer medicines.

Project summary

The main objective of this research is to develop and validate consumer information tools that would include simple visual representations on the benefits and risks of new cancer medicines. The usability and comprehension of the information tools will be assessed with a survey including general questions on the information tools, and specific questions testing the ability of the information tool to understand the benefit and safety data shown.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Agnes Vitry
Tel: +61 8 8302 2392
agnes.vitry@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre

Project keyword(s)

Cancer medicines, benefits and harms

Project title

 Value assessment of cancer medicines

Project summary

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) have developed value frameworks to determine the relative benefit of new cancer medicines. In Australia, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) makes recommendations for the reimbursement of medicines on the national pharmaceutical scheme. This exploratory study will examine the applicability and the validity of the ASCO and ESMO framework in Australia.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Agnes Vitry
Tel: +61 8 8302 2392
agnes.vitry@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

 

Project keyword(s)

Climate change, infectious disease, mosquitoes, growth, behaviour

Project title

Climate change and mosquito vectorial capacity

Project summary

Global warming will influence the growth and development of ectothermic animals, such as mosquitoes. Recent modelling suggests that mosquitoes will have smaller body sizes in future climates. However, the impact of reduced body size on vectorial capacity (the ability of mosquitoes to transmit disease) is unclear. In this project, mosquitoes will be grown at different temperatures in the laboratory and body size parameters will be established. Blood meal frequency and meal size will be assessed and the influence of these on vectorial capacity determined.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

A/Prof Craig Williams
Tel: +61 8 8302 1906
craig.williams@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre

Project keyword(s)

anticholinergic medicines, sedative medicines, confusion, cognitive function

Project title

Sedative and anticholinergic medicines and the risk of confusion in younger adults

Project summary

Sedative and anticholinergic medicines are known to impair cognition in older adults (aged 65 years and over), but the effects of these medicines on cognition in younger adults has not been well reported.  In this project, the student will conduct a systematic review of the literature to identify studies which have assessed the risk of adverse effects of anticholinergic and sedative medicines in younger adults.  The primary objective is to examine whether medications with sedative or anticholinergic activity are associated with an increased risk of confusion or cognitive impairment in adults aged less than 65 years of age.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Lisa Kalisch Ellett
Tel: +61 8 8302 1121
lisa.kalisch@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group

Project keyword(s)

Resveratrol, pregnancy, insulin

Project title

Does maternal supplementation with resveratrol in late gestation alter insulin signalling in the mother or the fetus?

Project summary

Resveratrol a polyphenol (found in the skins of red grapes) is often used as a dietary supplement to help weight loss and correct blood sugar levels. It is a potent antioxidant and has the ability to act upon many cell signalling pathways, both directly and indirectly. Although the dietary supplementation of resveratrol has many positive health consequences, the implications of exposure during pregnancy on both mother and fetus are not completely understood. We hypothesize that maternal exposure to resveratrol in late gestation will alter both maternal and fetal insulin signalling pathways. This project will use techniques such as Western blot to determine the protein abundance of molecules within key insulin signalling pathways. 

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Professor Janna Morrison
Tel: +618 8302 2166
janna.morrison@unisa.edu.au

Jack Darby
Tel: +61 8 8302 2641
jack.darby@mymail.unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group

Project keyword(s)

Pregnancy, drug, metabolism, fetal

Project title

Fetal and maternal drug metabolism in complicated pregnancies

Project summary

During pregnancy, drugs are often required to treat illness in order to obtain the best outcomes for both mother and fetus. However, a large proportion of drugs used in pregnancies have limited information on the short- and long-term adverse effects on the fetus. However, due to ethical and safety reasons, pregnant women are often excluded from clinical trials. Hence, animal studies are a vital source of information and can provide preliminary data regarding the safety of a drug during pregnancy. There is a large amount of human and animal evidence showing hormonal and metabolic changes that occur in both the mother and the fetus as a result of maternal illness, and reduced or accelerated fetal growth. These changes in the mother could affect maternal, placental and fetal expression of drug metabolising enzymes and drug transporters and hence alter fetal drug exposure. By using various animal models of high substrate supply and low substrate supply, this project aims to study if there are changes to drug metabolism in the fetal and maternal liver due to complications in pregnancies. This project will be available between late November to February.

Contact person and details

(Name/Phone/Email)

Professor Janna Morrison
Tel: +618 8302 2166
janna.morrison@unisa.edu.au

A/Prof Michael Wiese
Tel: +61 8 8302 2312
michael.wiese@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Early Origins of Adult Health Research Group

Project keyword(s)

Intrauterine growth restriction, cardiac health, heart

Project title

Implications for cardiac health in adulthood: does maternal undernutrition cause fibrosis in the fetal heart due to changes in glucose and insulin?

Project summary

Low birth weight (LBW) predisposes adult offspring to an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.  LBW is caused most commonly by either by maternal undernutrition or placental insufficiency.  The molecular mechanisms behind this predisposition to cardiovascular disease in those of us who were born small, is yet to be fully elucidated.  We hypothesize that decreased maternal global nutrient restriction will result in overt cardiac remodelling and fibrosis.  This project aims to use a newly developed LCMS assay to measure plasma insulin concentrations in ewes and fetuses after maternal undernutrition for a month in late gestation. This project will make use of techniques such as qRT-RT PCR, western blotting and immunohistochemistry

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Professor Janna Morrison
Tel: +618 8302 2166
janna.morrison@unisa.edu.au

A/Prof Michael Wiese
Tel: +61 8 8302 2312
michael.wiese@unisa.edu.au 

Jack Darby
Tel: +61 8 8302 2641
jack.darby@mymail.unisa.edu.au


School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

 

Project keyword(s)

Antibiotic resistance, drug efflux proteins, reversal of resistance

Project title

Reversing antibiotic resistance with efflux pump inhibitors

Project summary

Antibiotic-resistant infections cost the Australian government billions of dollars a year. Without new strategies to address drug resistance, we are heading for a post-antibiotic era where small injuries and minor infections will once again be fatal. Central to resistance is the expression of efflux pumps, through which bacteria extrude drugs. These efflux pumps are also implicated in bacterial virulence and biofilm formation. Moreover, functional efflux pumps are necessary for the selection of drug-resistant bacteria.

Despite their crucial role in bacterial pathogenesis and multidrug resistance, there are currently no inhibitors of drug efflux pumps in clinical use.

This summer project will form part our wider research objective of characterising drug efflux pumps from Gram-negative bacteria and developing inhibitors of these efflux pumps. The student will test the activity of various compounds against drug resistant pathogens and characterise the interaction of inhibitors with efflux pumps.

Contact person and details

(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Rietie Venter
Tel: +61 8 8302 1515
rietie.venter@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

UniSA Cancer Research Institute

Project keyword(s)

Water, graphene quantum dot, chemical sensor

Project title

Water quality sensors based on graphene quantum dots

Project summary

This project will develop water quality sensor technology based on fluorescently active graphene quantum dots. Access to clean water is a growing concern globally and health complications from the consumption of contaminated water place a growing burden on healthcare systems. The development of point-of-use sensors to determine the presence and concentration of contaminant species in water will be highly beneficial for assessment and monitoring of water quality. This project is in collaboration with the South Australian water filtration company Puratap Pty Ltd, with Prof John Hayball and Dr Sally Plush.

The project will involve chemical synthesis, materials fabrication and analytical chemistry.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Martin Sweetman
Tel: +61 040 009 445
martin.sweetman@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

UniSA Cancer Research Institute

Project keyword(s)

Water, antimicrobial, membrane, plasma polymer, antifouling

Project title

Plasma polymer modified ultrafiltration membranes for antifouling water purification technology

Project summary

Water security and the access to clean water is a global problem. This project will investigate the use of novel plasma polymer coatings onto ultrafiltration membranes to improve their antimicrobial and antifouling properties. The separation of microorganisms from raw water is one of the major issues in providing clean water to individuals. Ultrafiltration membranes can achieve microbial separation, but suffer from fouling. By applying an antifouling plasma polymer coating to the membrane, the longevity and performance of the membrane can be extended. This technology could find applications in various areas of water purification including municipal, domestic and third world. 

The project will involve chemical synthesis, materials fabrication, microbiology and analytical chemistry. This project is a collaboration between Prof Krasi Vasilev, Prof John Hayball and Dr Sally Plush.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Martin Sweetman
Tel: +61 040 009 445
martin.sweetman@unisa.edu.au 

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

UniSA Cancer Research Institute

Project keyword(s)

Water, perfluoroalkyl substances, activated carbon

Project title

Development of advanced carbon-polymer sorbents for removal of perfluoroalkyl substances from water

Project summary

A large-scale contamination crisis is currently unfolding in Australia, with the release of toxic perfluorinated chemicals from Defence RAAF bases. This contamination is affecting individuals’ way of life, with multiple water sources now contaminated. In collaboration with researchers at Flinders University, this project aims to develop a new sorbent material to capture perfluorinated chemicals from water. The development of domestic water filters using this sorbent will be the focus, in an effort to provide individuals with a barrier against the toxic contamination.

The project will involve chemical synthesis, materials fabrication and analytical chemistry and is part of the existing collaboration between Prof John Hayball and Dr Sally Plush’s research laboratories.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Sally Plush
Tel: +61 8302 2586
sally.plush@unisa.edu.au


School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

UniSA Cancer Research Institute

Project keyword(s)

Cancer, synthesis, fluorescence, protein interactions

Project title

Exploring how protein interactions drive diagnostic abilities of small molecules

Project summary

Proteins are one of the most important bioactive molecules. The understanding of how molecules interact with proteins is fundamental in driving development of molecules with activity in the clinical arena. We have recently shown that neutral rhenium complexes show significant promise as diagnostics for cancer, being capable of distinguishing between malignant and non-malignant cells with such complexes. But to be able to take these complexes to the next level an in depth understanding of their interactions with proteins is required. This project will explore the interaction of neutral rhenium complexes with a model protein system (BSA) through changes in fluorescence. This will result in knowledge that can be used to improve the design of future diagnostic agents.

The project will involve mainly fluorescence and analytical chemistry and is part of the existing collaboration between Prof Doug Brooks and Dr Sally Plush’s research laboratories.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Sally Plush
Tel: +61 8302 2586
sally.plush@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation and Development (CPID)

Project keyword(s)

Anthelmintic drug, Taste masking

Project title

Taste masking of anthelmintic drug by polymer carrier system

Project summary

The objective of this research is to mask the intensely bitter taste of a selected anthelmintic drug, as part of an industry collaboration. Taste masking will be optimized by complexing drug with the different polymers by the precipitation method. Drug-polymer complexes will be tested for drug content, in vitro taste in simulated salivary fluid (SSF) of pH 6.2, and molecular properties. The complex that would not release the drug in SSF will be considered for further design of novel dosage forms.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Prof Sanjay Garg
Tel: +618 8302 1575
sanjay.garg@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Pharmaceutical Innovation and Development (CPID)

Project keyword(s)

Hydrogel, colon cancer

Project title

Hydrogel for colon targeted drug delivery

Project summary

Most anticancer drugs therapies involve using systemic delivery which are non-selective and attack both normal and cancer cells. One way of addressing this problem is to develop novel and smart hydrogel drug delivery system with desired physicochemical and biological properties. This hydrogel will be exploited for local and site targeting. The smart hydrogel will be characterized for swelling, rheological, degradation, drug release and in-vitro work. This work will support future application of this hydrogel in design of drug delivery systems.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Prof Sanjay Garg
Tel: +618 8302 1575
sanjay.garg@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Cancer Biology

Project keyword(s)

Male fertility, gene regulation

Project title

Control of gene expression by androgens

Project summary

Many genes are known to be controlled by androgens to support male fertility. This project aims to identify a novel gene controlled by androgens in a mouse model of male sub-fertility.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Natalie Foot
Tel: +61 8 8302 7910
natalie.foot@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

 

Project keyword(s)

Vaccines, Immunology, Molecular and cell biology

Project title

Development and application of a viral vaccine platform for the prevention or treatment of infectious disease, allergy and cancer

Project summary

The Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach to develop and implement novel immuno-therapeutics that exploit the power and specificity of the immune system. Our laboratory currently has a number of vaccines under development for the prevention of infectious diseases caused by Zika, Chikungunya, MERS, Hepatitis A and B viruses and also for the treatment of various allergies and cancer. The immunogenicity of candidate vaccines is tested using various co-developed assays and animal models to determine their efficacy and mode of action. This requires a range of skills and techniques from immunology, virology, molecular and cellular biology. Our team includes honours and PhD students, technical staff and post-doctoral scientists able to provide you with a diverse range of expertise and experience to develop skills in these disciplines

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Tamara Cooper
Tel: +61 8 8302 2374
tamara.cooper@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Blencowe Group

Project keyword(s)

osteoporosis, bisphosphonate, drug-eluting implant

Project title

Drug-eluting implants for the treatment of osteoporosis

Project summary

Osteoporosis is a disease resulting in reduced bone strength that significantly increases the risk of broken bones. Osteoporosis can be caused by a number of factors and is particularly prominent in older people, with 70% of those over the age of 80 being affected. Currently, osteoporosis is treated with bisphosphonates that have to be taken orally each day over long periods (3+ years) to be effective. Some of the major drawbacks with bisphosphonates taken orally is their very low bioavailability (~0.6%), which means that large doses need to be consumed, and they can cause esophageal ulceration and cancer. Furthermore, patient compliance can be an issue, as with any oral medications that requires frequent doses. To avoid these problems, this project aims to develop a drug-eluting implant, that can provide sustained release of bisphosphonates at the target location over a period of 6+ months. 

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Anton Blencowe
Tel: +61 8 8302 2493
anton.blencowe@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Blencowe Group

Project keyword(s)

Native animals, pitfall trapping, insecticides

Project title

Reducing animal fatalities during pitfall trapping

Project Summary

To monitor animal numbers (e.g., small native mammals) in the wild, pitfall trapping is commonly used. This approach involves burying a length of plastic pipe vertically in the ground and checking it every few days to see what animals have been caught. The animals are then catalogued and released. One of the major causes of fatalities for trapped animals is attack from insects (e.g., ants). To minimise insect attacks, powdered insecticides are commonly spread around the entrance to the pitfall trap. However, this approach suffers from several drawbacks: it is not completely effective; large amounts of insecticide are used and not recovered (therefore contaminating the environment); and the user is exposed to insecticide powder. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop a safer, environmentally friendly, and more effective insecticide deployment method.

Contact person and details

(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Anton Blencowe
Tel: +6 18 8302 2493
anton.blencowe@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

 

Project keyword(s)

Therapeutic Drug Monitoring, Dose Optimisation, Antibiotics, Pharmacokinetics

Project title

Examining appropriateness of vancomycin dosing and therapeutic drug monitoring strategies

Project summary

Vancomycin is a critical antibiotic for the treatment of MRSA. Given its narrow therapeutic index, dosing must be individualised through therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) to ensure treatment is both effective and safe.

The current TDM protocol requires dose adjustment based on trough concentrations; however, there is insufficient data correlating trough concentrations with efficacy endpoints, suggesting that current treatment practices may be inappropriate. Furthermore, guidelines for dose adjustment based on TDM levels require examination to establish an evidence-basis for their use.

Working with collaborators in SA Pharmacy and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, this project will use pharmacokinetic modelling and simulation to assess the ability of current treatment protocols to achieve efficacy targets and will be used to help inform the clinical management of vancomycin.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Stephanie Reuter Lange
Tel: +61 8 8302 1872
stephanie.reuterlange@unisa.edu.au


School

School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Cancer Biology

Project keyword(s)

Diabetes, Blood vessels

Summary

The Vascular Biology and Cell Trafficking laboratory studies the intricate network of blood vessels that carry white blood cells throughout our body and contribute to normal and disease states. With a focus on translating our findings into outcomes for better human health, our work aims to provide new opportunities to (i) prevent tumours from growing and metastasising in cancer patients and (ii) promote blood vessel function in patients with diabetes.

Project title

Curing diabetes 

Project summary

Pancreatic islet transplantation is an emerging cure for Type 1 Diabetes but success is limited by death of insulin producing beta cells post-transplantation. Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) have the potential to improve islet engraftment and function as they increase the blood supply to provide the much needed oxygen and nutrients. As recently published by us, a better understanding of how the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas interact with the local blood vasculature will significantly advance the cure for diabetes (Penko et al, Cell Transplantation 2015; Peiris et al, Diabetes 2014).

Techniques: Cutting edge technology will be used alongside cell culture, surface antigen expression by flow cytometry, protein detection by Western blot, gene expression by real time PCR, small animal models of diabetes, immunohistochemistry of human tissue samples, functionalised biomaterials and high end microscopy (including confocal and multiphoton).

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Associate Professor Claudine Bonder
Tel:  +61 8 8302 7833
claudine.bonder@unisa.edu.au

Population Health   

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Population Health Research

Project keyword(s)

Genetics, genomics, neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric diseases, complex diseases, statistical genomics

Project title

Can genomic findings in neuropsychiatric diseases from European population be transferred into other populations? 

Project summary

In the last 10 years, genome-wide association studies have been successful in identifying genes affecting neuropsychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia and motor neuron diseases. But, these studies have been mostly conducted in European ancestry populations. It is not clear whether similar patterns also apply to other populations. With emerging data on populations from non-European ancestry, we can now start answering the questions of transferability across different populations.

The aim of the project is to evaluate the transferability of the genome-wide association study findings in Europeans into other populations.

Students will learn advanced statistical methods based on genomic information to understand the underlying causes of complex diseases and their comparison in different populations.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Beben Benyamin
Tel: +61 8 8302 7102
beben.benyamin@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Population Health Research

Project keyword(s)

Human genetics, Gene, GWAS, Biostatistics, SNP

Project title

Exploring the genetic architecture of human traits using existing software and R

Project summary

For human complex traits and diseases, the number, location and frequency of causal genes vary. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been used to identify variants associated with causal genes for each trait. GWAS data include genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). Recently, using GWAS summary results, genetic correlations between complex traits have been estimated via an efficient approach called linkage disequilibrium score regression (LDSC), which can help us to understand the interplay between different traits. In this project, the summer vacation student will estimate genetic correlation between cancer and height using LDSC based on GWAS summary results that are already available to the statistical genetics team. The student will learn a concept of genetic analysis and how to manage genome-wide SNP data using appropriate statistical packages (e.g. R, PLINK, LDSC) in human genetics.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Guiyan Ni
Tel: +61 8 8302 7100
guiyan.ni@unisa.edu.au 

Dr Hong Lee
Tel: +61 8 8302 1882
hong.lee@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Population Health Research

Project keyword(s)

Common disorder, Gene, GWAS, Biostatistics, SNP

Project title

Health-related biomarker detection in Genome-Wide Association Studies

Project summary

Many common and pervasive human health conditions are caused by diseases with complex aetiologies. People differ greatly in their genetic vulnerability to these complex diseases. One channel to identify the genes associated with complex diseases is through Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS). GWAS investigates the entire genome and identifies significant genetic variants such as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) that are associated with a disease. In this project, the primary role of the summer vacation student will be to analyse existing GWAS data related to some common health problems such as obesity and mental conditions, and then to make profile scores based on the GWAS results for independent sample to quantify their individual risk. The students will be part of a strong statistical genetics team, and they will be given training in advanced GWAS techniques and software such as PLINK, GCTA and MTG2. The student will also gain some statistical knowledge including hypothesis test and regression as well as computer programming skills (e.g. R). 

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Chenglong Yu
Tel: +61 8 8302 2405
chenglong.yu@unisa.edu.au 

Hong Lee
Tel: +61 8 8302 1882
hong.lee@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Population Health Research

Project keyword(s)

Cancer survivorship, quality of life, physical activity, sleep

Project title

Lifestyle factors and patient-reported outcomes in cancer survivors

Project summary

This project will analyse data from a cohort of 500 cancer survivors (breast cancer, colon cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma). Baseline assessment in 2013-14 involved collection of sleep quality and duration, sedentary time and physical activity (assessed with an accelerometer), clinical, demographic and lifestyle factors, and a range of patient-reported outcomes (including e.g., health-related quality of life, fatigue, depression, cognitive functioning, and unmet needs). Follow-up data on patient-reported outcomes was collected in the second half of 2017.

 

A range of projects are available depending on the student’s interests and skills.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

Dr Terry Boyle
Tel: +61 8 8302 1143
terry.boyle@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Population Health Research

Project keyword(s)

Technology, Cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT, psychology, young people, asthma, evidence based medicine, translational research and policy, clinical guidelines

Project title

Using mixed reality and holographic technologies (iHealth) for delivery of cognitive and behavioural therapy for treatment of anxiety among teenagers with asthma

Project summary

Technological innovation is imperative for the future success of healthcare delivery, regardless of discipline. This study will be one of the first studies world-wide to establish the evidence-base for novel iHealth technologies (namely augmented reality, virtual reality and holographic technology) for delivery of cognitive and behavioural therapy (CBT) to manage anxiety among young people with asthma. Asthma and mental health disorders are two of the biggest health threats facing Australian youth today. Half of young people with asthma have co-morbid anxiety/depression primarily due to fear of exacerbations, double the rate in the wider community, contributing to functional impairment and preventable hospitalisation and mortality. iHealth tools can address issues of poor health literacy and can be personalised based on age and gender. Students will gain skills in creating technological resources, conducting independent research, writing publications and will make practical contributions to the evidence base for asthma management.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

A/Prof Kristin Carson-Chahhoud
Tel: +61 8 8302 0453
kristin.carson-chahhoud@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

Centre for Population Health Research

Project keyword(s)

Technology, smoking, patient, evidence-based medicine, best-practice, clinical guidelines, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, stroke, vascular disease

Project title

Using mixed reality and holographic technologies (iHealth) for delivery of smoking cessation treatment among patients admitted to hospital with tobacco-related illnesses

Project summary

Technological innovation is imperative for the future success of healthcare delivery, regardless of discipline. This study will be one of the first studies world-wide to establish the evidence-base for novel iHealth technologies (namely augmented reality, virtual reality and holographic technology) for delivery of smoking cessation education for smokers admitted to hospital with tobacco related illnesses. Tobacco use continues to be one of the leading causes of preventable mortality and morbidity globally, costing the health system billions of dollars each year. Hospitalisation offers an opportunistic environment for smoking intervention, with the potential for a real-world impact in the lives of individuals as well as a population level. iHealth tools can address issues of poor health literacy and can be personalised based on age and gender. Students will gain skills in creating technological resources, conducting independent research, writing publications and will make practical contributions to the evidence base for asthma management. 

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

A/Prof Kristin Carson-Chahhoud
Tel: +61 8 8302 0453
kristin.carson-chahhoud@unisa.edu.au

 

School

School of Health Sciences

Centre/Institute

HLS / Medrad

Project keyword(s)

point of care ultrasound, antenatal, rural, remote, health costs, health economics

Project title

Review of studies in economic evaluation and evidence of point of care testing in the remote primary health care setting in remote Australia

Project summary

The AIHW 2016 report detailed significant disparities in health outcomes for Australians living in rural and remote areas, including higher rates of injury and disease, lower life expectancy, and poorer engagement with health services as compared with people living in major cities. Primary health care in these communities is known to effectively provide a range of health services to improve health outcomes. However, provision of health services in remote areas especially with a sparse population has its own challenges. Aboriginal, rural and remote communities experience significant barriers in access to health services due to their geographical location, lack of health services, difficulties associated with travel costs, and access to services delivered in a culturally appropriate manner. Several point-of-care services have been implemented and some studies suggest that point of care testing leads to improved clinical outcomes. It has been suggested that spending money wisely on rural and remote care via point of care testing may lead to significant savings.

This project aims to conduct a critical literature review of all published studies within Australia on the health economics of point of care testing in Australia. Studies examined will be those investigating health economics, cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, cost benefit analysis, cost of illness, burden of illness, quality of life and patient outcomes. Data will be analysed to identify health and economic implications of point of care testing. This data will be helpful in determining whether investing in point of care testing could lead to improvements for rural and remote patients and the healthcare system. This work will lead to a publication.

Contact person and details
(Name/Phone/Email)

A/Prof Nayana Parange
Tel: +61 8 8302 2585
nayana.parange@unisa.edu.au 

Prof Eva Bezak
Tel: +61 8 21826
eva.bezak@unisa.edu.au

Supervisor Register

In addition to the list of projects above, the following staff are willing to accept vacation students. Please contact them directly to discuss possible project opportunities.

Dr Beben Benyamin areas of interest: Genetics, genomics, neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric diseases, statistical genomics, genetic epidemiology, cross-ethnic genomic studies.

Dr Carolyn Berryman areas of interest: Neurophysiology and pain, EEG, non-invasive brain stimulation.

Dr Ryan Causby areas of interest: Motor control, motor learning, podiatry, biomechanics, musculoskeletal conditions.

A/Prof Kristin Carson-Chahhoud areas of interest: Evidence-based medicine, technology (e.g. augmented reality, virtual reality, holographics, artificial intelligence), respiratory medicine, Aboriginal health, cardiovascular disease, tobacco use and smoking cessation, healthy lifestyle programs for youth, translational research and policy.

A/Prof Alison Coates areas of interest: Nutrition, dietary patterns, healthy lifestyle.

Dr Robert Crowther areas of interest: Biomechanics, strength and conditioning, skill acquisition in sport science or clinical populations.

Prof John Hayball areas of interest:  Immunology and inflammation, vaccinology, infectious diseases, allergy, cancer biology.

Dr Timothy Hercus areas of interest:  Mechanisms of cytokine signalling in leukaemia.

Dr Jacinta Johnson areas of interest: Hospital pharmacy practice-based research; improving medication safety; pharmacological management of pain, in particular headache and migraine; opioid use, addiction, harm reduction and the role of the pharmacist; Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Lisa Kalisch Ellett areas of interest: Quality use of medicines, adverse drug events, dementia, pharmacoepidemiology.

Ms Susan Gilbert Hunt areas of interest: Occupational therapy student contribution to service/client outcomes, influence of occupational therapy student placement experience on future practice.

Dr Saravana Kumar areas of interest: Quality and safety in health care, evidence-based practice, evidence implementation, systematic review, health services research, evaluation, public health.

Dr Catherine Paquet areas of interest: Influence of environmental and life course factors on chronic diseases, well being and health-related behaviours; community (e.g. access to healthy food) and organisational (e.g. food marketing strategies) factors that shape dietary behaviours; genetic and psychological markers that can help identify individuals more likely to be influenced by food-related cues in their environment.

Dr Karma Pearce areas of interest: Nutrition and fertility.

Dr Stephanie Reuter Lange areas of interest: Therapeutic drug monitoring, dose optimisation, clinical pharmacokinetics.

Areas of study and research

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