The UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarship Scheme offers scholars of exceptional quality the opportunity to work on research projects aligned with the UNSW 2025 strategy. These prestigious scholarships offer unique benefits, individualised support and guaranteed funding to reach your personal development goals.
The deadline for applicants to contact supervisors is 12 July 2019.
The Kirby Institute currently has the following scholarships available under this scheme:
Enhancing Hepatitis C testing and treatment in Pakistan
The PhD student will lead academic outputs from the funded CHIME project (Conquering Hepatitis via Micro-Elimination) in partnership with Aga Khan University to implement Hepatitis C screening, diagnosis and treatment through a low-cost test-and-treat model in Pakistan. The aims of the project will be to: 1) Estimate HCV prevalence and determine factors associated with HCV infection; 2) Characterise linkage to treatment following HCV screening, including time course to DAA initiation, 3) Evaluate new HCV diagnostic technologies to enhance linkage to care. This information will inform large scale programs to eliminate hepatitis from highly endemic, low income countries.
Cost-effectiveness of point-of-care tests for infectious diseases in the Asia-Pacific
The diagnosis of infectious diseases is often unavailable or inaccessible because of the placement of diagnostic tests in centralised laboratories. Recent technological advances have generated new diagnostic options for diseases of global importance that can be implemented at the point of care. Despite having technical accuracy, the scale-up of these technologies faces uncertain pathways, multiple barriers and costs. This project will use health economics and mathematical modelling to predict cost-effectiveness of scaling-up new point-of-care tests for infectious diseases in remote Australia and the Asia-Pacific. This information will fill a major knowledge gap that currently impedes translation into policy and practice.
Understanding mortality inequality among prisoners
Prisoners have poorer health than the general community, with particularly high levels of mental health issues, disabilities, drug misuse, and chronic conditions. Mortality among the individuals involved with the criminal justice system is much higher than among their community peers, with the greatest risk immediately after release. The World Health Organization has acknowledged, ‘public health can no longer afford to ignore prison health’. This PhD project investigates cause-specific mortality, its predictors, trends, and potentially avoidable death among a cohort of individuals with a history of imprisonment in NSW between 2002–2018, and the impact of post-release programs and interventions on mortality.
Experiences of HIV diagnosis in the antiretroviral era
The PhD student will lead academic outputs from an NHMRC Partnership Project investigating experiences of HIV clinical care and community-based support in a cohort of newly diagnosed people across Australia. The aims of the project are to: 1) evaluate policies promoting linkage to HIV care and early initiation of antiretroviral therapy; 2) assess the impact of clinical and community-based support on quality of life and well-being; and 3) investigate the implementation of antiretroviral-based HIV prevention strategies. The student will collect and analyse qualitative data from the current NHMRC project, as well as analyse other data from an extensive archive.
Second study of Sexual Health and Attitudes of Australian Prisoners
Prisoners are a priority population in several National Communicable Diseases Strategies but excluded from household surveys leaving a significant knowledge gap for this marginalised population. The first Sexual Health Survey of Australian prisoners (SHAAP-1) was conducted 11 years ago. This NHMRC-funded project updates and expands on SHAAP-1 to become the world’s largest and most comprehensive population-based survey of prisoners’ sexual health and covers sexually transmissible infections and risk, contraception, condom use, sex attitudes, sexual violence and sex work. It will also collect data on key marginalised and vulnerable prisoner groups (Indigenous women, LGBTIQ prisoners, childhood sexual abuse survivors).
Enhancing hepatitis C testing and treatment among people who inject drugs
The PhD candidate will be trained to conduct novel, high-quality research integrating social research and epidemiology across NHMRC-funded KI-CSRH studies to improve HCV testing, treatment, and post-treatment care among marginalised populations. The candidate will be responsible for social and epidemiological research from a cohort study evaluating HCV treatment in drug-treatment clinics (ETHOS), a cluster-randomised trial of point-of-care HCV testing to enhance treatment in needle/syringe programmes (TEMPO, funded by SPHERE/Triple-I), and a cohort study of HCV reinfection following treatment (SHARP). These projects are linked to an NHMRC-funded Centre for Research Excellence on Point-of-Care Testing (CIs Grebely/Treloar) offering further training opportunities.
Risk prediction for severe dengue infection
Dengue is a global health problem which is endemic in 128 countries with more than half the global population at risk of infection. At times of epidemics, large numbers of patients have to be monitored as patients at risk of severe dengue fever cannot be predicted. This imposes a considerable strain on health care resources. This project focuses on characterising immunological associations for severe dengue from samples collected from a cohort of patients with well-defined clinical phenotypes (severe vs. non severe disease).
Chaturaka Rodrigo, Medicine, Medical Sciences
Andrew Lloyd, Medicine, Kirby Institute
Deepika Fernando, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine
Computational and statistical models for single-cell multi-omics data in immunology
Genomics and single cell technologies are revolutionising modern biomedical research, including understanding how immune systems protect the body from pathogens and cancer. These technologies generate very large and complex data sets comprising gene, protein and function information at the single cell level. However, an inability to adequately analyse these data is currently limiting the progress in this field. This project will develop cutting-edge statistical and computational models to learn the molecular pathways driving immune cells to a successful immune response against pathogens and cancer. This knowledge will inform novel immunotherapies for cancer and vaccines against significant pathogens affecting marginalised communities.
Pierre Lafaye de Micheaux, Science, Mathematics & Statistics
Fabio Luciani, Medicine, Kirby Institute
Scott Sisson, Science, Mathematics & Statistics
Neurophysical Responsibility, Mental Health and Youth Detention
Recent advances in neuroscience and neurophysics suggest a need to rethink how mental (pre)dispositions impact judgement, behaviour and decision making. This project examines the positive and negative implications of neuro-determined legal accountability. The project will create a legal theoretical, neuro-scientific empirical and paediatric forensic observatory examining different types of neurological conditions, their impact on the physical and mental health of juvenile and young adult offenders, and the need for a more therapeutic focussed detention. This project will significantly contribute to an understanding of the neuro-physical capacity of juvenile offenders, advance criminal justice, and further knowledge of neurological determinism in general.
Marc De Leeuw, UNSW Law
Tony Butler, Medicine, Kirby Institute
Gary Edmond, UNSW Law
Viruses use autoimmunity for immune camouflage
Recent cutting edge advancements in Single Cell studies has revolutionised the research approach to understanding vaccine efficacy and autoimmunity. Our research group is utilising state-of-the-art single T and B cell sequencing, with accompanying computational genome analyses, to understand the characteristics of these cells. T and B cells have an important role in driving vaccine induced protection and also autoimmune disease. Sometimes overlap develops between pathogen induced immune responses and autoimmunity resulting in either failed vaccine protection or autoimmunity. By understanding the mechanisms that drive this overlap it will enable us to improve vaccine efficacy and help combat the development of autoimmunity.