Joint PhD Scholarships With the University of Nottingham

Joint PhD with Nottingham Global Health

Are you planning to embark on a PhD? Have you heard of the Joint PhD program between the University of Adelaide and the University of Nottingham, UK? The Universities work closely together on many of the world's most pressing challenges such as food security, climate change and health and medicine.

By joining the program, you will gain an international outlook and build an international network, essential in today’s globalised job market. You will also have access to the research strengths of two globally leading research-intensive universities, the University of Adelaide and the University of Nottingham, UK.

This program offers a fantastic opportunity to fast-track your international career

How does it work?

The University of Adelaide (UofA) will be your home institution and the University of Nottingham (UofN) will be your host. 

During your time overseas, you will be based at a Nottingham campus in the UK, China (near Shanghai), or Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

  • You will begin your PhD at UofA, developing your research proposal, skills and starting your research.
    * It is also possible for students who are unable to travel to Australia to begin their study at the University of Nottingham
  • Your project will be co-supervised by both UofA and UofN academics.
  • After your first year at UofA you’ll spend a minimum of 12 months at UofN (in one or several blocks). 
  • Importantly, you will be eligible for training courses and additional travel grants from both institutions.
  • You’ll undertake your examination, including an oral defence at UofA. 
  • Graduates of the program receive a single doctoral degree jointly awarded by both institutions.

What’s on offer?

The strategic partnership between the University of Nottingham and University of Adelaide is in the process of developing a Joint Global Health and Wellbeing Hub aimed at attaining sustainable solutions to global health issues, improving health and wellbeing across the lifespan. The hub will focus on developing and translating fundamental and applied research with the joint vision of improving health and wellness across the lifespan, equitably in all populations globally.

Under this initiative, PhD scholarships are available for projects aimed at obtaining sustainable solutions for global health challenges. These projects fall under the following clusters:

  • Cluster Area 1: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, initially focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.
  • Cluster Area 2: Closing the gap in health equality globally, initially focusing on research strengths in physical and mental, health and wellness for indigenous, low socioeconomic and isolated communities.
  • Cluster Area 3: Using big data to drive global health and wellness solutions, initially focusing on research strengths in public health, access to healthy diets and epidemiology.
  • Cluster Area 4: Consumer driven technology development, precision imaging, machine learning, and affordable diagnostics and therapeutics, initially focusing on research strengths in health & biotechnology, biophotonics, next generation precision imaging, digital innovation and machine learning.
  • Cluster Area 5: A healthy start to life ensuring the optimum start to lifelong health across the globe, initially focusing on fertility & conception, pregnancy & birth, early origins of health and childhood health.
  • Cluster Area 6: Global solutions for antibiotic resistance, immunisations and pandemics, initially focusing on vaccines & immunisation, respiratory health and antibiotic resistance.
  • Cluster Area 7: A global focus on individual health and wellbeing issues, initially focusing on neuroscience, neurodegenerative disease, cognition, lifelong mental health.

Cluster areas

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  • The role of local microbiota in the aetiopathogenesis of oral squamous cell carcinoma

    Project ID: GHW-01

    Field of Reseach: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, physical activity, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.

    Project Title: The role of local microbiota in the aetiopathogenesis of oral squamous cell carcinoma.

    Description: Head and neck cancers are the sixth most common form of cancer malignancy worldwide with a five-year survival of approximately 65%. In recent years, there has been an alarming trend of increasing oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cases in young patients, which has been linked to increased Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection in the general population. Recent seminal studies have furthermore demonstrated that the majority of tumours have distinct tumour microbiota found not only within the tumour microenvironment but also within tumour cells. These intracellular bacteria have been shown to be have adapted to the tumours they reside in, however whether the intratumoral microbiome is critical for how tumours behave and the immune response they evoke is poorly understood. While OSCC has been shown to have viable microbial infiltrates, its relationship to patient clinical and treatment outcomes and whether these bacteria are intracellular or OSCC-specific has yet to be explored. This project will use prospectively collected tissue samples from OSCC patients to define the relationship between the intratumoral microbiome and virome with immune cell infiltration, prognosis and response to treatment.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Associate Professor S Vreugde, Dr Kevin Fenix
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Professor A Ghaemmaghami

    Contacts: sarah.vreugde@adelaide.edu.au; amir.ghaemmaghami@nottingham.ac.uk

  • Exercise interventions to manipulate neuroplasticity in ageing.

    Project ID: GHW-06

    Field of Research: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, physical activity, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.

    Project Title: Exercise interventions to manipulate neuroplasticity in ageing.

    Description: A global rise in the ageing population has necessitated a more focused approach to the age-related loss of neuromuscular function. The loss of muscle strength is often explained by the concomitant reduction in muscle mass, however the former appears to decline more rapidly than the latter and this discordant relationship is poorly described. Alterations in neural mechanisms are a likely candidate here and work from our groups (AU and UoN) has identified a number of age-related differences, when assessed in a cross-sectional manner. Moreover, these adaptations may be influenced by activity levels and environmental factors as opposed to ageing per se. The level of neuroplasticity in humans over more acute interventions (i.e. weeks/months) remains entirely unclear. The proposed project will investigate age-related decrements in neural drive and neuromuscular function in humans from motor cortex to the muscle fibre, and will apply a number of appropriate exercise interventions to explore acute neuroplasticity. Briefly, this will be achieved by pursuing the following objectives:

    1. Correlate novel central and peripheral biomarkers of neural function in young and old populations using motor cortex stimulation and intramuscular electromyography.
    2. Determine the plasticity of the central and peripheral motor system in response to an exercise intervention.
    3. Describe age-related differences of neuroplasticity in response to exercise interventions.

    We will capitalise on existing expertise and lab capability across the two centres to address age-related alterations in motor pathways that negatively impact muscle strength and control, and to offer feasible, effective interventions for lifelong musculoskeletal health.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: John Semmler, George McKenzie Opie
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Mathew Piasecki

    Contacts: john.semmler@adelaide.edu.au; mathew.piasecki@nottingham.ac.uk

  • The role of the gastrointestinal tract in the counter-regulation of hypoglycaemia in diabetes

    Project ID: GHW-13

    Field of Research: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, physical activity, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.

    Project Title: The role of the gastrointestinal tract in the counter-regulation of hypoglycaemia in diabetes.

    Description: Hypoglycaemia, or abnormally low blood glucose, represents a medical emergency and the most common adverse effect in people with insulin-treated diabetes. Fear of hypoglycaemia is the major limiting factor for achieving optimal glycaemic control. Frequent hypoglycaemic episodes can blunt the hormonal counter-regulatory responses leading to ‘impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia’ (IAH), and severe hypoglycaemia which is associated with a substantial increase in mortality.  The gastrointestinal tract (and especially gastric emptying or GE) plays an important role in glucose homeostasis. Our group in Adelaide has established that: i) when GE is relatively more rapid, the glycaemic response is greater in both health and diabetes, ii) delayed GE (gastroparesis) occurs frequently in diabetes, iii) changes in glycaemia impact GE – acute hyperglycaemia slows, while insulin-induced hypoglycaemia accelerates GE markedly, in both health and T1D. Similarly, there is an increase in the splanchnic circulatory response during acute hypoglycaemia. These phenomena represent an important, but hitherto, poorly recognised counter-regulatory response to hypoglycaemia at the gastrointestinal level. The studies in the proposed PhD program will seek to answer the following clinically relevant questions:  1) Is the GE and the splanchnic circulatory response during hypoglycaemia diminished in type 1 diabetes with IAH?  2) Does the GE response to hypoglycaemia depend on the degree of hypoglycaemia, and is there a relatively higher blood glucose threshold for gastric counter-regulation in type 2 diabetes? 3) What is the effect of intensive insulin therapy on glycaemic threshold for eliciting GE and the splanchnic circulatory response in type 1 and 2 diabetes?

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Professor Michael Horowitz, Dr Chinmay Marathe
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Dr Liz Simpson

    Contacts: michael.horowitz@adelaide.edu.au; Liz.Simpson@nottingham.ac.uk

  • The interaction between dietary sugars, dietary nitrate and the oral microbiome on nitric oxide generation in vivo

    Project ID: GHW-15

    Field of Research: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, physical activity, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.

    Project Title: The interaction between dietary sugars, dietary nitrate and the oral microbiome on nitric oxide generation in vivo.

    Description: Nitric oxide (NO) is a pleiotropic molecule important for vascular and metabolic functions, e.g. blood pressure, and mitochondrial energetics. The oral microbiome plays an important role in generating bioactive NO from dietary nitrate (mostly provided by vegetables) in humans, who lack nitrate reducing enzymes, via the Nitrate-Nitrite-NO pathway. Exposure to dietary nitrate and the composition of the oral microbiota therefore influence the amount of NO available for vascular and metabolic functions. Increased exposure of the oral microbiota to nitrate results in an increase in nitrate-reducing genera (e.g. Neisseria), a reduction in caries-associated genera, a reduction in lactate and an increase in ammonium, increasing oral pH and potentially reducing dental caries risk. Dietary sugars impact the diversity and function of the oral microbiome and it is plausible that the amount and type of sugars consumed influences the ability of the oral microbiota to convert nitrate to nitrite and ultimately impact on the availability of NO. However, the interaction between dietary sugars, dietary nitrate, the oral microbiota and oral nitrate reduction has not been studied. Accessing dietary data, saliva and oral microbiota samples from an existing Australian cohort of 150 twin pairs, this research aims to explore the above interactions to determine

    1. if dietary sugars have a detrimental impact on oral nitrate reduction;
    2. if any such effects are mediated via the oral microbiome;
    3. to elucidate any role of nitrate-rich diets in mitigating caries risk from sugars; and
    4. to explore the influence of the host genome on these effects.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Prof Paula Moynihan, Dr Toby Hughes
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Prof Mario Siervo

    Contacts: paula.moynihan@adelaide.edu.au; mario.siervo@nottingham.ac.uk

     

  • Harmonising the Clinical Assessment of Central Pain Processing across Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Conditions

    Project ID: GHW-17

    Field of Research: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, physical activity, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.

    Project Title: Harmonising the Clinical Assessment of Central Pain Processing across Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain Conditions

    Description: Chronic musculoskeletal pain is a common and disabling condition, however, understanding of the mechanisms underlying chronic pain is limited. Recent research indicates that the pain processes in the central nervous system may be altered in people with chronic musculoskeletal pain (known as central sensitisation), providing further insight into why some people experience long-lasting symptoms. A complicating factor, however, is that different testing protocols are being used across different chronic pain conditions (e.g., axial versus peripheral pain) and mechanisms (e.g., mechanical versus neuropathic versus inflammatory). This project aims to harmonise and validate the clinical assessment of central pain processing across different chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions. The first study will be a systematic review of the literature to identify the different testing protocols used across different pain conditions. Testing protocols are likely to include novel clinical pain assessments, including quantitative sensory testing (QST), exercise-induced hyperalgesia (EIH), and/or conditioned pain modulation (CPM).  Based on the review, the candidate will then develop a protocol to assess central pain processing. Using this protocol, data will be collected across different clinical (e.g., spinal pain, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis) and community populations. This will allow us to compare clinical measures of central pain processing across different populations, and validate these assessments with other outcomes such as questionnaires, functional tests, functional MRI, and other patient characteristics. This project will contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying chronic musculoskeletal pain, which will lay the foundation for improved assessment and treatment for people with chronic pain.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Dr Rutger de Zoete, Professor Catherine Hill
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Dr Michelle Hall

    Contacts: rutger.dezoete@adelaide.edu.au; michelle.hall@nottingham.ac.uk

  • Bile acids and glycaemia control in health and type 2 diabetes

    Project ID: GHW-18

    Field of Research: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, physical activity, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.

    Project Title: Bile acids and glycaemia control in health and type 2 diabetes.

    Description: The gastrointestinal (GI) tract plays an important role in regulating metabolic homeostasis and represents a novel target for both the prevention and intervention of metabolic disorders. We have established the potential of stimulating endogenous GI hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) for glycaemic control in type 2 diabetes (T2D), by demonstrating the importance of its action, the relevance of GI region and novel molecular pathways to its secretion, and glucose-lowering effects of specific intervention. In this work, we have revealed a “bile acid-GLP-1” axis underlying postprandial glucose metabolism and a link of postprandial glycaemia to the metabolic processes of endogenous bile acids in humans. Building on these insights, we will conduct a series of complementary studies to address: (i) whether dysregulation of blood glucose in T2D is related to pathological changes in bile acid profiles and, if so, what are the underlying mechanisms; (ii) how endogenous bile acids interact with metabolic tissues to regulate blood glucose and energy expenditure; and (iii) whether tailored supplementation of physiological bile acids has the capacity to improve glycaemic control in T2D patients. The outcomes will provide fundamental clinical aspects relating to the metabolic role of bile acids and have high potential for translation into novel and effective bile acid-based approaches to the prevention and management of T2D.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Dr Tongzhi Wu, Professor Chris Rayner
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Dr Liz Simpson

    Contacts: tongzhi.wu@adelaide.edu.au; Liz.Simpson@nottingham.ac.uk;

  • A methodological evaluation of credibility and dependability and mechanisms for improved reporting of the findings of qualitative evidence synthesis using meta-aggregation.

    Project ID: GHW-19

    Field of Research: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, physical activity, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.

    Project Title: A methodological evaluation of credibility and dependability and mechanisms for improved reporting of the findings of qualitative evidence synthesis using meta-aggregation.

    Description: The Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) is globally renowned in the field of evidence based healthcare. The UoA hosts the JBI headquarters and the UoN hosts a Centre of Excellence within the global JBI network. JBI has an internationally recognized methodological approach to qualitative evidence synthesis that is utilized by scholars worldwide. This project aims to evaluate and develop this methodological approach. Working closely with methodologists and expert nurses, the project will address a series of real-life clinical nursing problems as exemplars for the methodological inquiry. Hence, the project will move from bench (methodological guidance) to bedside (practice guidance), with a focus on investigating and refining qualitative evidence synthesis methodology with input from end-users at every stage.   Phase 1: will be a study of methods for determining characteristics for grading dependable, credible evidence from high quality reviews with readily transferable findings. Specifically in this study, existing JBI instruments for critical appraisal, scales and scores for dependability and credibility and summary of findings tables for qualitative synthesis will be investigated, enabling methodological testing, modification and evaluation.    Phase 2: will involves staged primary data collection to identify stakeholder and end user perspectives on the modified key decision making and reporting components of qualitative synthesis methodology. Primary data collection will include focus groups, to contribute to emerging methods on developing objective measures for critical appraisal, dependability, credibility and qualitative summary of findings tables.  The project outputs will be revised methodological reporting guidance, methodological papers and a series of qualitative systematic reviews.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Dr Craig Lockwood, Dr Kylie Porritt
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Professor Catrin Evans

    Contacts: craig.lockwood@adelaide.edu.au; Catrin.Evans@nottingham.ac.uk;

  • Exploring the physiological mechanisms in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders

    Project ID: GHW-21

    Field of Research: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, physical activity, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.

    Project Title: Exploring the physiological mechanisms in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders.

    Description: This study aims to explore the physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms in patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) to enable new treatments and promote better quality of life in these patients. FGIDs are characterised by abdominal pain, discomfort, early satiety, as well as psychosocial symptoms (i.e. stress, anxiety and depression). Functional dyspepsia (FD) is one of the common FGIDs with a prevalence of 10-30% worldwide. One difficulty in managing symptoms in FGIDs (including FD) is that there is no identifiable physical, biological, or anatomical biomarker for diagnosis. However recent studies demonstrate that the central nervous system plays a major a role in FGIDs through the bidirectional interaction between the brain and gut, and FGIDs are now defined as gut–brain disorders. Understanding the physiology and pathophysiology of FGIDs will aid in providing new pharmacological targets or dietary therapeutic approaches for the treatment. This study aims to understand the physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms of FD. The project will take a multidisciplinary approach ranging from basic science right through to clinical studies. Initially the project will investigate the physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms in a mouse model of FD. Clinical studies will link key clinical manifestation of the disease with the brain-gut axis in FGIDs patients. The interaction between the brain and gut in response to food intake will be explored using advanced MRI imaging techniques at the University of Nottingham. Finally, we will use animal models to determine if the hypersensitivity, observed in FD, can be modified by diet or pharmacotherapy.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Professor Amanda Page, Dr Hui Li
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Sally Eldeghaidy

    Contacts: amanda.page@adelaide.edu.au; Sally.Eldeghaidy@nottingham.ac.uk;

  • Improved targeted drug delivery for oesophageal cancer using CD133-directed nanoparticles

    Project ID: GHW-22

    Field of Research: A bench to bedside approach to solutions for lifelong health, focusing on research strengths in nursing, cancer, cardiovascular health, gastroenterology, physical activity, musculoskeletal health, nutrition & metabolism and oral health.

    Project Title: Improved targeted drug delivery for oesophageal cancer using CD133-directed nanoparticles.

    Description: Oesophageal cancer (EC) is an aggressive malignancy ranked sixth in the world for cancer deaths. It has limited therapeutic choices and poor survival. Recurrence after successful treatment is linked to the presence of cancer stem cells (CSCs), a small proportion of the cell population of these tumors that contributes to anti-cancer chemotherapeutic resistance. Untargeted drug delivery leads to significant side effects and increased toxicity which limit their dosing frequency as well as accumulative lifetime dose. More effective treatment therefore relies on the ability to understand drug delivery distributions in EC tissue and the ability to specifically target CSCs.  Recently, targeting CD133, a cell surface marker indicative of CSCs, has emerged as a promising route to target CSCs. While CD133-specific targeted drug delivery (TDD) has been used in other cancers, for EC this approach is largely unexplored. As such, the aim of this project is to improve TDD for EC by developing CD133 targeting nanoparticles and studying the effect of the delivery of currently used EC drugs (e.g. paclitaxel, cisplatin, and fluorouracil). Drawing on the strong and complementary expertise at Adelaide (UoA) and Nottingham (UoN), we will prepare hyaluronic acid based nanocapsules (UoN), decorated with CD133 receptors and containing model drugs to study their ability to selectively kill cancer cells in an EC in vitro cell model  (UoA). Nanocapsule characterisation and capsule/drug distribution in cells/tissue (UoN) will be correlated with biological assays of anti-cancer efficacy in pre-clinical models (UoA) to evaluate the effectiveness of this TDD approach.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Associate Professor Joanne Bowen
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Associate Professor Mischa Zelzer

    Contacts: joanne.bowen@adelaide.edu.au; M.Zelzer@nottingham.ac.uk

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  • Developing foods with targeted nutrition and sustainability credential for the health of future consumers

    Project ID: GHW-24

    Field of Reseach: Cluster Area 2: Closing the gap in health equality globally, initially focusing on research strengths in physical and mental, health and wellness for indigenous, low socioeconomic and isolated communities, designer foods for nutritional benefit.

    Project Title: Developing foods with targeted nutrition and sustainability credential for the health of future consumers.

    Description: Plant based diets are rapidly growing in popularity in developed countries. This is creating a growing population segment of young adults that are actively switching to food choices that are perceived to be healthier, better for the environment and more sustainable. However, in many cases highly processed plant-based ready meals and meat substitutes, do not have the sustainability credentials or the healthiness they are perceived to be. They lack diversity in protein source and are nutritionally imbalanced as plant-based protein generally has lower content of essential amino acids required for protein synthesis in humans. Antinutritional factors present in plant-based protein also affects protein digestibility. This is creating a future nutritional and health risk that is not currently quantified. This project aims to produce sustainable healthy plant-based yoghurts with optimal product attributes and nutritional profiles from underutilized legumes. The products will have nutritional profiles targeted for a specific group of consumers, while incorporating a more sustainable protein source into the food chain.  The project will explain the links between the physicochemical and nutrient profile of flour, milk and yoghurt from a range of nutrient dense sustainable underutilised legumes and their respective flavour profiles. A range of pre-treatment and starch modification methods, blends of the legumes and starter cultures will be examined to optimise product attributes, nutritional compositions and protein digestibility of resulting yoghurts

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Dr Jo Zhou, Professor Rachel Burton
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Dr Susan Azam Ali

    Contacts: jo.zhou@adelaide.edu.au; Susan.Azamali@nottingham.edu.my

     

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  • Dementia risk prediction modelling in the context of vascular disease

    Project ID: GHW-14

    Field of Research: Cluster Area 3: Using big data to drive global health and wellness solutions, focusing on research strengths in public health, access to healthy diets and epidemiology

    Project Title: Dementia risk prediction modelling in the context of vascular disease

    Description: Accurate identification of individuals at high risk of dementia is necessary for informing the development of intervention, prevention, risk reduction and treatment strategies. While several dementia risk prediction models have been developed, these usually focus on all-cause dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease with none specifically focused on risk of vascular dementia. Further, few models have been developed in disease specific populations, with the exception of diabetes and stroke. However, risk of dementia has been consistently linked to indicators of poor cardiovascular health (e.g. hypertension, coronary heart disease). To date, no models have been developed for predicting risk of dementia (including all-cause dementia and its sub-types such as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia) in the context of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the aim of this project is to undertake a detailed program of research into dementia risk prediction modelling in the context of cardiovascular related morbidity, using harmonized data from International Consortia (i.e. Cohort Studies of Memory in an International Consortium) and datasets from Low and Middle Income Counties: LMICs (i.e. 10/66 Study).

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Dr Phillip Tully
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Professor Blossom Stephan

    Contacts: phillip.tully@adelaide.edu.au; blossom.stephan@nottingham.ac.uk

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  • Harmonisation of Multi-modal Neuroimaging Data for improved personalised human brain mapping

    Project ID: GHW-09

    Field of Research: Cluster Area 4: Consumer driven technology development, precision imaging, machine learning, and affordable diagnostics and therapeutics, focusing on research strengths in health & biotechnology, biophotonics, next generation precision imaging, digital innovation and machine learning.

    Project Title: Harmonisation of Multi-modal Neuroimaging Data for improved personalised human brain mapping.

    Description: Deep Learning has revolutionized image processing in recent years and has been able to deliver impressive performance, well beyond human level in certain medical imaging applications. However, there are also major challenges to make these methods work more generally and in practical, clinical settings in order to benefit real patients. One of the biggest challenges, both theoretically and practically, is improving generalisation across domains, and is addressed by methods known as domain adaptation or harmonisation. In brain MRI the domains are different scanners and protocols that are used for acquiring images. These create substantial variability between images, often obscuring the subtle biological changes associated with pathologies or health brain structure and function, such as in dementia. This is a severe limitation for the use of advanced Deep Learning techniques in both research and clinical settings, impacting on the potential benefit to a wide range of patients. It is therefore a crucial and urgent problem to solve in the medical imaging field. This project will develop computational methodologies for data harmonisation to unlock the potential of Deep Learning for research and clinical applications of neuroimaging. Large public datasets alongside unique “travelling-heads” data (subjects scanned on a broad range of scanners) will be used to develop and test machine learning algorithms for harmonising data. During the course of this PhD project we will harmonise large and small datasets, in research and clinical settings, to learn more about brain dysfunction due to brain disorders and improve patient diagnoses and outcomes.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Prof Mark Jenkinson
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Associate Professor Stamatios Sotiropoulos

    Contacts: mark.jenkinson@adelaide.edu.au; Stamatios.sotiropoulos@nottingham.ac.uk

  • Connecting consumers with their food via innovative virtual experiences

    Project ID: GHW-20

    Field of Research: Cluster Area 4: Consumer driven technology development, precision imaging, machine learning, and affordable diagnostics and therapeutics, focusing on research strengths in health & biotechnology, biophotonics, next generation precision imaging, digital innovation and machine learning.

    Project Title: Connecting consumers with their food via innovative virtual experiences.

    Description: Social isolation and loneliness are related to mental health (Caciopp et al 2006, 2010), physical health (Philip et al 2020) and well-being (Golden et al 2009). The COVID19 pandemic has seen a vast increase in those self-isolating from a variety of age groups globally. Social eating has been shown to reduce feelings of loneliness (Dunbar 2017) and increase intakes (Ruddock et al 2019) which is key for those at risk of malnutrition (Ramic et al 2011). In addition, consumers are looking for alternative ways to connect with their food during the pandemic as eating out still presents risks for many individuals. This research project will innovate using digital technologies to develop virtual experiences that connect consumers with their food. Virtual visits (via Virtual Reality) to food and beverage producers will be developed and the content of these visits varied to explore the impact of information on sustainable production, sensory perception (via guided tastings), emotional connection and health education on consumer satisfaction, pleasure, social connection and subjective loneliness. Cultural effects between UK and Australia will be explored to understand the needs of consumers living in different climates, before extending to other cultures (e.g. China) to explore the needs of consumers globally.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Associate Professor Susan Bastian, Professor Rachel Ankeny
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Dr Rebecca Ford

    Contacts: sue.bastian@adelaide.edu.au; R.Ford@nottingham.ac.uk

  • A novel digital intervention (APP) to enhance self-care efficacy for Type 2 Diabetes, informed by a sex/gender/age determinants and preferences approach.

    Project ID: GHW-23

    Field of Research: Cluster Area 4: Consumer driven technology development, precision imaging, machine learning, and affordable diagnostics and therapeutics, focusing on research strengths in health & biotechnology, biophotonics, next generation precision imaging, digital innovation and machine learning.

    Project Title: A novel digital intervention (APP) to enhance self-care efficacy for Type 2 Diabetes, informed by a sex/gender/age determinants and preferences approach.

    Description: The Freemasons Centre for Male Health and Wellbeing is interested in a program that contributes to the development of health services, including a focus on digital health, that better meets the needs and preferences of men.  We are interested in better applications of e-health technology and integrated services that supports self-care; empowering men (and women) to take control of their health, particularly in the context of chronic disease risk reduction.  Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is more prevalent in men but there is an opportunity to develop a digital intervention that, by applying a sex/gender lens to the research, can be better customised to meet men’s and women’s preferences. As part of a broader program, we nominate the following joint Adelaide/Nottingham PhD project. We propose to develop and test a digital intervention (APP) combined with wearables (continuous glucose monitoring; actimeter HR monitor etc.) that adopts one of more of the following approaches: (1) Micro-interventions/nudges built into the app to influence food and physical activity related behaviour in people with T2D; and (2) Two other intervention concepts that blend nicely with micro-nudges: (a) Engineering reinforcement rewards (e.g. increasing chances of winning a reward that matters to them) when an outcome goal is met; and (b) Extending micro-intervention/rewards to village (defined as people who they interact/live and do things with on a regular basis). We propose to examine how sex, gender norms and age group influence the optimal strategy and use continuous blood glucose monitoring as a proximal outcome measure to guide micro-intervention decisions.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Professor Gary Wittert
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Dr Holly Blake

    Contacts: gary.wittert@adelaide.edu.au; Holly.Blake@nottingham.ac.uk

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  • Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA interactions during gamete development

    Project ID: GHW-10

    Field of Research: Cluster Area 5: A healthy start to life ensuring the optimum start to lifelong health across the globe, focusing on fertility & conception, pregnancy & birth, early origins of health and childhood health.

    Project Title: Nuclear and mitochondrial DNA interactions during gamete development.

    Description: Mammalian cells possess nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). These two genomes are strictly regulated during development. In the female germline, there are waves of DNA demethylation and methylation that mediate the differentiation of the earliest germ cells, the primordial germ cells, into mature oocytes. Concurrently, mtDNA copy number increases exponentially. It is likely that these events act in synchrony mediated through the nuclear-encoded mtDNA-specific replication factors that undergo DNA methylation and demethylation, ensuring that the mature oocyte is set for fertilisation and embryonic development. In other biological systems, we have shown that global DNA demethylation of the nuclear genome affects mtDNA copy number. Likewise, reducing mtDNA copy number alters a cell’s global DNA methylation profile.   In this project, we will use the pig as a model. Its DNA methylation and mtDNA replication profiles during germ cell development are similar to those of the human. However, we do not understand the impact of altering one of these criteria on the offspring’s health and well-being. This project will determine how altering mtDNA copy number and genotype affect the DNA methylation profiles of primordial germ cells as they differentiate into mature oocytes. Through the project, you will receive training in germ cell and oocyte isolation from pigs generated with increased mtDNA copy and different mtDNA genotypes; preparation of samples for state-of-the-art next generation sequencing; and analysis of epigenetic profiles using bioinformatics. The outcomes will determine if certain assisted reproductive technologies proposed for clinical use and livestock production would affect offspring’ health and well-being.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Professor Jus St. John, Dr Sean O'Leary
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Professor Ramiro Alberio

    Contacts: jus.stjohn@adelaide.edu.au; Ramiro.Alberio@nottingham.ac.uk

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  • Best-defense materials for understanding and outsmarting invasive pathogens

    Project ID: GHW-07

    Field of Research: Cluster Area 6: Global solutions for antibiotic resistance, immunisations and pandemics, focusing on vaccines & immunisation, respiratory health and antibiotic resistance.

    Project Title: Best-defense materials for understanding and outsmarting invasive pathogens.

    Description: A gruesome “Hollywood” depiction of a fungal invader that digests its host from inside out surprisingly has a scientific basis in human biology. Pathogenic yeasts are usually harmless to human health; however, when given an opportunity to enter the human body, normally benign yeast microbes can invade tissues by sending out digestive hyphae that break-down human cells and burrow deep into tissues. Commonly implanted devices (such as urinary and vascular catheters which are used in the millions of units per year) easily pick up environmental yeasts, and frequently develop into biofilm infections on these devices. Once tissue invasion reaches the bloodstream, sepsis results; a dire condition known as candidiasis, associated with a shockingly high mortality rate of 50%.  Surprisingly, little is known how to best combat invasive microbial diseases on surfaces of biomedical devices and implants. This project aims to better understand how yeasts invade tissues, and then then to “turn the table” by using these strategies to combat pathogens. The project will investigate new material surface coatings that will be able to take an active role in defending against and diagnosing fungal infection, and respond, on-demand, to the invasion process by eliminating invasive pathogens. Preliminary data show that drugs delivered in this way operate by novel mechanisms of action, therefore, pathogens are unlikely to develop antibiotic resistance to these agents. Applications towards early diagnosis of fungal diseases is directly aligned to the goal of the “one health” view towards surveying and stopping antibiotic resistant organisms.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Dr Bryan Coad
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Professor Morgan Alexander

    Contacts: bryan.coad@adelaide.edu.au; Morgan.Alexander@nottingham.ac.uk

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  • Epi-transcriptional regulation of TREX nuclear export pathways in neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Project ID: GHW-11

    Field of Research: Cluster Area 7: A global focus on lifelong mental health and wellbeing, focusing on neuroscience, neurodegenerative disease and cognition.

    Project Title: Epi-transcriptional regulation of TREX nuclear export pathways in neurodevelopmental disorders.

    Description: The mRNA export from the nucleus to the cytoplasm and modifications to RNAs are emerging fundamental biological pathways with roles in splicing, nuclear transport, cell signalling and translation. We have implicated over 25 variants within the THOC2 gene, which encodes a subunit of the THO sub-complex of multi-protein TREX nuclear mRNA export complex, in severe neurocognitive and growth disorders (Kumar et al 2020 Front Mol Neuroscience 13:12; Kumar et al 2018 Hum Mutat 39:1126; Kumar et al 2015 Am J Hum Genet 97:302). Other TREX subunits including THOC1, THOC5, THOC6 and THOC7 have since been associated with neurodevelopmental (NDDs) or neurodegenerative disorders, indicating the broader role of fine-tuned mRNA export in brain development and function (Mattioli et al 2019 Hum Mol Genet 28:952; Coe at al 2014 Nat Genet 46:1063; Kumar et al, unpublished data). Recent evidence suggests a functional association between nucleotide modifications and mRNA export pathways through THO/TREX complex co-regulation. In this project, we will elucidate the functional crosstalk between RNA modification and mRNA export in neuronal development, differentiation and plasticity using patient iPSC-derived neurons and THOC2 variant edited mouse model with an ultimate aim of using this knowledge for developing strategies to help the affected individuals with intellectual disabilities.

    University of Adelaide Supervisor: Professor Jozef Gecz, Dr Raman Sharma
    University of Nottingham Supervisor: Dr Helen Miranda Knight

    Contacts: jozef.gecz@adelaide.edu.au; Helen.Knight@nottingham.ac.uk

How to apply

  1. Check your eligibility
  2. Identify an Joint PhD project of interest from the available opportunities advertised above
  3. Application instructions for international applications and domestic applications
  4. Apply for via the University of Adelaide’s online application form.

**Note: These projects are only open to applicants with United Kingdom or Australian Citizenship, currently residing in the United Kingdom or Australia.  International applicants with valid visas onshore in the United Kingdom or Australia may apply and a copy of your visa should be submitted with your application.

Enquiries
Email the HDR Admissions Team for assistance with the online application on agc.international@adelaide.edu.au for International Applications or hdr_admissions@adelaide.edu.au for Domestic Applications.

Applications Close: 7th March 2021