The UNSW Scientia PhD Scholarship Scheme offers scholars of exceptional quality the opportunity to work on research projects aligned with UNSW’s ten year 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 21 July.
The Kirby Institute currently has the following scholarships available under this scheme:
Eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and Syphilis Infection in Indonesia
HIV and syphilis remain a major public health problem in low and middle income countries (LMICs). In 2014 the World Health Organization released a strategy for dual elimination of perinatal HIV and syphilis. Despite these goals, coverage of antenatal screening for both HIV and syphilis remains low in many LMICs, in particularly Indonesia with coverage levels <10%. The PhD candidate will conduct mixed methods implementation research to understand what modifications are needed within the Indonesia health system to attain a high coverage of antenatal screening for HIV and syphilis and evaluate the impact of these strategies on progress towards elimination.
Mass Drug Administration for Scabies to Control Serious Bacterial Complications
Scabies is a major cause of morbidity in many developing countries and can lead to reduced quality of life and serious complications including systemic bacterial infection. Our SHIFT trial showed that one round of mass drug administration (MDA) using oral ivermectin reduced the scabies prevalence in a small island community in Fiji by 94%, one year after intervention. We will now take the next step towards the elimination of scabies as a global health problem by conducting a trial in a population of 140,000 people in Fiji to assess the impact of ivermectin MDA on secondary bacterial complications of scabies.
Point-of-Care Testing and Treatment to Improve Birth Outcomes in PNG
In many resource-limited settings, curable STIs are causes of adverse maternal and neonatal health outcomes but remain undiagnosed in pregnancy because of the lack of suitable diagnostic technologies. We are undertaking the first effectiveness trial of novel, easy-to-use, and highly accurate point-of-care (POC) assays for STIs that will allow health staff to correctly diagnose and provide curative treatment during antenatal visits. We will compare birth outcomes between antenatal women who are offered POC STI testing with those who are not. We will evaluate the implementation requirements, costs and acceptability of antenatal POC STI testing and treatment compared to routine care.
Risk Factors for Long-Term Chronic Disease Events in HIV-Positive Persons
The project will investigate risk factors for serious non-AIDS events (SNAEs), which include cardiovascular disease and cancers, in HIV-positive people. Analyses will be based on the D:A:D Study, the only large HIV-cohort study (49,000 patients) collecting prospective well validated, clinical endpoints. HIV is known to increase the risk of SNAEs, and antiretroviral treatments (ART) have side effects. Understanding how HIV infection, aging and decades of ART interact on the risk of SNAEs will be critical to optimise patient outcomes. The results of this project will have a global impact on management of HIV-positive people.
Adaptive Immune Responses Against Viral Infections: A Systems Immunology Approach
The goal of this project is to understand the adaptive immune response against human viral infections utilising single cell technologies. Candidates will work with experimental and computational approaches to quantify the key features and interactions between pathogen, host, and environment. This research will be based on analyses of blood longitudinal samples of hepatitis C infections, as well as of other viruses. The project feature state-of-the-art molecular and cell biology approaches including high throughput sequencing, genomic analyses, multi-colour flow cytometry and immunoassays. This systems approach utilising single cell methods will provide a unique opportunity to be trained across disciplines and to develop cutting edge technologies.
Platform for Resting Immune Cell Gene Delivery
Genetically modified immune cells have extraordinary potential to be utilised in various immunotherapies (eg. HIV or refractory diseases, such as relapsed hematological malignancies). Gene delivery into resting immune cells is preferable given their superior capacity for engraftment, differentiation and effector functions. Whilst lentiviral vectors can act as delivery tools for resting cell types, dominant host-restrictions limit their capacity in resting immune cells. This project will be focussed on developing lentiviral platforms for resting immune cells using a system of viral evolution and viral gene bioprospecting. In tackling gene delivery, this project has the potential to transform future immunotherapeutic strategies.
Understanding Drug Action on Malaria
Widespread use of antimalarial drugs has significantly reduced deaths and infections from malaria over the last decade. However, resistance to most common antimalarial drugs threatens this progress. This project involves mathematical modelling of clinical and experimental data on parasite dynamics after treatment with antimalarial drugs. This will provide insight into the action of anti-malarial agents - how drugs affect parasite replication, and how the human host removes parasites from circulation. This will be used to predict the effects of novel drugs and drug combinations in controlling malaria infection.
Understanding Hepatitis C Transmissions in the Prison Environment
Hepatitis C (HCV) infection affects 3% of the world's population with transmission largely via injecting drug use. The prison setting features both a high HCV prevalence, and high incidence of transmissions. This interdisciplinary project is linked to several cohort studies and clinical trials underway in the Australian prisons (HITS-p, SToP-C, SHARP-p) documenting incident HCV infections. The project will combine: spatio-temporal and epidemiological data defining case-to-case proximity and risk behaviours; molecular epidemiology based on next generation sequencing of HCV genomes and bioinformatics to identify likely transmission clusters; and qualitative interviewing to understand contexts of transmission. These data will inform prevention strategies.
Andrew Lloyd, Medicine, Kirby Institute
Carla Treloar, Arts and Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research in Health
The Impact of Improving Hepatitis C Treatment on Liver Disease
The PhD student will lead academic outputs from a population-based data linkage study in NSW. Utilising large health administrative databases (including antiviral therapy, hospitalisation, cancer registry, and mortality), this study evaluates the epidemiology of HCV-related liver disease among more than 100,000 people with an HCV diagnosis in NSW. The aims of the PhD project will be to assess the impact of improved HCV therapeutics on: 1) advanced liver disease diagnosis; 2) survival following advanced liver disease diagnosis; 3) liver-related mortality.
Enhancing HCV Testing and Treatment Among People who Inject Drugs
The PhD student will lead academic outputs from a funded NHMRC Partnership Project evaluating an intervention including point-of-care HCV testing and linkage to care to enhance HCV treatment in a cohort of people who inject drugs attending drug treatment clinics and needle and syringe programmes in Australia (n=2,000). The aims of the PhD project will be to evaluate: 1) the impact of an intervention including point-of-care HCV testing and linkage to care on uptake of HCV therapy; 2) treatment outcomes and associated factors; 3) the impact of HCV therapy on HCV-related liver morbidity and mortality through linkages with administrative datasets.