Back Honours/Masters Projects

Honours/Masters Projects

Interested? Reach out to supervisors to ask about a project, or to GenV’s Student Coordinator Ella Perlow for general enquiries about Honours/Masters projects. 

Prescribed antenatal and perinatal medication in Victorian birthing hospitals

Prescribed antenatal and perinatal medication in Victorian birthing hospitals

Project description: When a new medicine is developed through clinical trials, pregnant women are often excluded due to ethical concerns and technical difficulties. This means that large-scale pharmacovigilance is urgently needed for adverse maternal and child outcomes from drugs/medicines taken by pregnant women. This requires population-level data on two fronts: (1) whole-population cohorts that can measure potentially subtle adverse outcomes, both short-term (eg birth outcomes) and long-term (eg diabetes, childhood infections, neurodevelopmental outcomes); and (2) complete data on medications prescribed during pregnancy, labour and the newborn period. In Australia, outpatient prescriptions are meticulously documented via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). However, medications prescribed via other routes, including hospitals, are not available at the population level.   

Project objective: This project will fill this critical gap, working with GenV (Generation Victoria), a new birth cohort targeting all 160,000 Victorian births and their mothers over two years from early 2021. The student will: 

  1. Map how and where Victoria’s 70 birthing hospitals prescribe and record medication data for pregnant women and newborns.  
  2. Assist GenV in developing systems to link to these datasets, via this mapping and via hospital interviews and surveys.  
  3. In a proof-of-principle analysis, study associations between hospital-prescribed medications and pregnancy and newborn outcomes in one metropolitan and one rural hospital for all births over a 6 month period.    

This Honours/Masters project may be stand-alone, or work with a second student examining antibiotic stewardship policies and prescribing more specifically. In addition to the GenV team, it is expected they will work with experts spanning GenV’s Pregnancy, Newborns, Data Linkage and Optimising Antibiotics Working Groups. This opportunity enables an outstanding student to develop skills in a public health area critical to lifelong human health (with subsequent PhD and career opportunities), and in GenV, one of the world’s most exciting new child health projects. 

Supervisors: Dr Jessika HuProf Melissa Wake

Antibiotic stewardship and outcomes in Victorian birthing hospitals

Antibiotic stewardship and outcomes in Victorian birthing hospitals

Project description: Optimising the use of antibiotics is critical to effectively treat infections, protect patients from short- and long-term harms and combat antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic stewardship programs can help clinicians improve these outcomes by improving antibiotic prescribing. The forthcoming GenV cohort (see below) provides the opportunity to model the costs and benefits of variations in antibiotic prescribing and stewardship across an entire state. However, this requires complete data on antibiotic prescribed during pregnancy, labour and the newborn period. In Australia, outpatient prescriptions are meticulously documented via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). However, medications prescribed via other routes, including hospitals, are not available at the population level.   

Project objective: This project will fill this critical gap, working with GenV (Generation Victoria), a new birth cohort targeting all 160,000 Victorian births and their mothers over two years from early 2021. The student will: 

  1. Map antibiotic prescribing and stewardship policies for pregnant women and newborns across Victoria’s 70 birthing hospitals. 
  2. Assist GenV in developing systems to link to these datasets, via this mapping and via hospital interviews and surveys. 
  3. In a proof-of-principle analysis, study associations of hospital antibiotic stewardship and prescribing policies with pregnancy and newborn outcomes in the 70 hospitals over GenV’s first 3-6 months of operation.    

 This Honours/Masters project may be stand-alone, or work with a second student examining hospital prescribing more generally. In addition to the GenV team, it is expected they will work with experts spanning GenV’s Pregnancy, Newborns, Data Linkage and Optimising Antibiotics Working Groups. This opportunity enables an outstanding student to develop skills in a public health area critical to lifelong human health (with subsequent PhD and career opportunities), and in GenV, one of the world’s most exciting new child health projects. 

Supervisors: Dr Jessika HuProf Melissa Wake 

The pharmacovigilance gap among pregnant women in Australia and worldwide

The pharmacovigilance gap among pregnant women in Australia and worldwide

Project description: When a new medicine is developed through clinical trials, pregnant women are often excluded due to ethical concerns and technical difficulties. This means that very few studies address pharmacovigilance for adverse maternal and child outcomes from drugs/medicines taken by pregnant women. Those that do may relate to problems such as birth defects that can be detected in routine population data, and/or registries set up to study individual medicines of concern, so do not apply to subtle quantitative impacts such as neurodevelopmental outcomes.

Focusing on evidence from population-based human studies and registries and other observational or experimental studies, this narrative systematic review will define 1) the most common and/or important prescription medications used today in pregnancy (e.g psychoanaleptics, antibiotics, 20 analgesics), 2) their association with potential adverse outcomes (short-term, eg birth outcomes, and long-term, eg diabetes, childhood infections, neurodevelopmental outcomes), and 3) the effect modifiers (eg duration, dose, pregnancy trimester). We expect to demonstrate gaps in knowledge about medications in pregnancy that may be having long term impacts for our children. If you are willing to learn how to undertake systematic reviews and learn about this important topic with a group of mission-driven people, this is the right opportunity for you! 

Supervisors: Dr Jessika HuDr Jing WangProf Melissa Wake 

Statewide outcomes for babies in special care nurseries

Statewide outcomes for babies in special care nurseries

Project description: Newborn babies who require specialist care account for substantial immediate and lasting burden of disease. More than 10% of newborns are admitted to special care nurseries (SCN), many experiencing lifelong adverse outcomes. Despite decades of research, deficiencies remaining in knowledge of risks and outcomes pertaining to babies. To rapidly improve care for babies, comprehensive knowledge of incidence, health/developmental outcomes, risk factors and care pathways, coupled with a uniform whole-of-population approach, is urgently needed. 

The ‘Generation Victoria’ cohort is targeting all 160,000 Victorian births over two years from early 2021. Within GenV, we are establishing a depth data collection for all newborns admitted to Victoria’s 28 SCNs, covering important events during pregnancy and the postnatal admission. These unique whole-state data will complement data already available for the 5 neonatal ICUs and build a statewide evidence base for better physical, mental and developmental outcomes for these vulnerable babies.  

Project objective: For the expected 3000 babies admitted to Victoria’s 28 SCNs in Feb-July 2021, we aim to determine the population incidence of morbidities (eg respiratory distress, hypoglycaemia, infection, jaundice, and feeding difficulties) in the neonatal period, and the characteristics of the babies who experience them 

This Honours/Masters project may be stand-alone, or work with a second student examining the impact of variations in models of care. Working with the GenV and the SCN study team, the student will learn how registries are set up, assist with data extraction and develop definitions, coding and recording of morbidities and characteristics before proceeding to quantitative analyses to address the study objective.  

This opportunity enables an outstanding student to be involved in both developing a registry with a lasting legacy (with subsequent PhD and career opportunities), and in GenV, one of the world’s most exciting new child health projects. 

Supervisors: Dr Jing WangA/Prof Jeanie CheongDr Jessika Hu

How statewide outcomes for babies in special care nurseries vary by models of care

How statewide outcomes for babies in special care nurseries vary by models of care

Project description: Newborn babies who require specialist care account for substantial immediate and lasting burden of disease. More than 10% of newborns are admitted to special care nurseries (SCN), many experiencing lifelong adverse outcomes. Despite decades of research, deficiencies remaining in knowledge of risks and outcomes pertaining to babies. To rapidly improve care for babies, comprehensive knowledge of incidence, health/developmental outcomes, risk factors and care pathways, coupled with a uniform whole-of-population approach, is urgently needed. 

The ‘Generation Victoria’ cohort is targeting all 160,000 Victorian births over two years from early 2021. Within GenV, we are establishing a depth data collection for all newborns admitted to Victoria’s 28 SCNs, covering important events during pregnancy and the postnatal admission. These unique whole-state data will complement data already available for the 5 neonatal ICUs and build a statewide evidence base for better physical, mental and developmental outcomes for these vulnerable babies.  

Project objective: For the expected 3000 babies admitted to Victoria’s 28 SCNs in Feb-July 2021, we aim to determine how morbidities (eg respiratory distress, hypoglycaemia, infection, jaundice, and feeding difficulties) in the neonatal period vary by the models of obstetric and newborn care offered in those hospitals. 

This Honours/Masters project may be stand-alone, or work with a second student examining the incidence of these morbidities and characteristics of the babies who experience them. Working with the GenV and the SCN study team, the student will learn how registries are set up, assist with data extraction and map the models of care in each hospital, before proceeding to quantitative analyses to address the study objective. 

This opportunity enables an outstanding student to be involved in both developing a registry with a lasting legacy (with subsequent PhD and career opportunities), and in GenV, one of the world’s most exciting new child health projects. 

Supervisors: Dr Jing WangProf Melissa WakeDr Jessika Hu

Statewide outcomes for Victoria’s most complex pregnancies

Statewide outcomes for Victoria’s most complex pregnancies

Project description: The NONA registry is being developed to improve the care for women (and their babies) who experience the most complex pregnancies. These women are generally managed at one of the five Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) Units in Victoria (Royal Women’s Hospital, Mercy Hospital for Women, Monash Medical Centre, Joan Kirner Women’s & Children’s and Northern Hospital). The registry will identify key quality metrics to improve outcomes for women with a pregnancy complicated by one of three conditions: (1) multiple pregnancy, (2) fetal growth restriction, and/or (3) antenatally-diagnosed congenital anomalies. The registry is being developed with the support of Monash Registries (Australia’s leading registry infrastructure) and the statewide Gen V initiative led from the MCRI, providing rich additional predictive and long term data.  

Up to 3 Honours/Masters students will each take one of these 3 conditions and study its statewide epidemiology: its incidence, including patterns of geographic variation; its management, including adherence to guidelines and variations in local practice and guidelines across sites; and its newborn outcomes amongst the subset of participants who birth by 31st July 2021. The student/s will learn practical skills in registry development, data collection, analysis and reporting on defined quality metrics for the first year of the NONA registry.  

The registry is overseen by the NONA steering committee comprising MFM subspecialists from Victoria’s major maternity hospitals and leading academics in paediatrics, women’s health and registry science. The project/s will be based with GenV at the MCRI with placements in these hospitals. This is an exciting opportunity for outstanding students to be involved in both developing a registry with a lasting legacy for future maternal and child health (with subsequent PhD and career opportunities), and in GenV, one of the world’s most exciting new parent and child projects.  

Supervisors: A/Prof Joanne SaidProf Melissa WakeMs Ella Perlow  

Engaging high-value cohorts for a state-wide health research initiative

Engaging high-value cohorts for a state-wide health research initiative

Project description: Generation Victoria (GenV) is a state-wide child and parent health research initiative. The GenV research cohort is targeting all 160,000 Victorian births over two years from early 2021, seeking to recruit both parents and newborns into the life-time study.  With an initiative of this scale, communication with parents ahead of recruitment is critical to enable them to make an informed decision about participation. 

The recruitment of certain parent cohorts has proven challenging for previous health research projects.  For example, Indigenous parents, teenage parents, those with a disability or from refugee backgrounds, are among the cohorts often missing from research samples. This greatly limits the benefits of research outcomes for those communities.  For this reason, these cohorts are considered high-value for GenV and a targeted communication strategy is being implemented. 

This project aims to:  

  1. Develop frameworks and processes to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of communication with high-value cohorts
  2. Implement these processes to gather data on effectiveness and enable GenV to adapt communications as required
  3. Provide insights on effective engagement with high-value cohorts to inform communication planning for GenV and future research initiatives 

Working with the GenV Cohort 2020s, Solutions Hub and marketing teams, the student will be contributing actively to data collection and management, and conducting quantitative and qualitative analyses to address the study objectives.  

Supervisors: Dr Libby HughesMs Alisha GulencDr Jessika HuMr Simon Welsh

Making cohort participation fairer to solve real problems for real populations: Generation Victoria (GenV)

Making cohort participation fairer to solve real problems for real populations: Generation Victoria (GenV)

Project description: Over the last 30 years, many childhood problems (like autism, coeliac, obesity, allergy, mental health) have worsened, with long-term consequences for ageing societies. Finding answers to these problems require very large scale, population-representative cohorts, such as the forthcoming GenV (see below).  

Unfortunately, those with potentially most to gain – families with social risk factors – are often left out of these population studies. Participation rates are typically lower among families who have high socioeconomic disadvantage, Indigenous or culturally diverse backgrounds, teenage parents, and parents with low literacy or disability. Because the research findings are then less applicable, they can further drive gaps in equality between the most and least disadvantaged families.  

Generation Victoria is Australia’s most ambitious children’s study, aiming to recruit all 160,000 Victorian babies born over 2 full years from early 2021 and their parents. With guiding principles of Inclusion and Equity, GenV is designed to allow every eligible Victorian to participate (eg materials available in >25 languages, very low burden digital assessments). 

In Stage 1, the student will identify existing complete datasets (eg Australian Census) describing the eligible population, and select the demographic characteristics to best determine GenV’s representativeness. In Stage 2, they will then statistically compare the demographic characteristics of participants recruited in the first months of GenV to the eligible population, to understand the sample’s population-representativeness and which groups are under-represented. In Stage 3, the student will identify barriers to participation through demographic characteristics (eg primary language) and reason-for-refusal from those who decline, and the GenV Recruitment team will use this evidence to refine their recruitment approach. In Stage 4, the student can measure the impacts on recruitment rates of under-represented groups going forward.   

This project will provide evidence for recruitment decisions that have an important legacy in GenV.

Supervisors: Dr Susan CliffordDr Fiona Mensah, Dr Libby HughesMs Hayley Warren

A more complete picture of health and wellbeing – the inclusion of fathers in family research

A more complete picture of health and wellbeing – the inclusion of fathers in family research

Project description: Over the last 30 years, many childhood problems (like autism, coeliac, obesity, allergy, mental health) have worsened, with long-term consequences for ageing societies. Finding answers to these problems require very large scale, population-representative cohorts, such as the forthcoming Generation Victoria (GenV).  

GenV is Australia’s most ambitious children’s study, aiming to recruit all 160,000 Victorian babies born over 2 full years from early 2021 and their parents. With guiding principles of Inclusion and Equity, GenV is designed to allow every eligible Victorian to participate (eg materials available in >25 languages, very low burden digital assessments). 

Fathers play an important role in shaping their children’s social, emotional and physical development. However, research to date has mostly focused on mothers and children, often neglecting the involvement of fathers. Not including fathers in research limits the representativeness of the population and in turn gives an incomplete picture of the family and its role in the health and wellbeing of children.   

This project aims to:  

  1. Describe fathers’ involvement in longitudinal cohort studies and successful strategies implemented in previous studies to recruit and retain fathers. 
  2. Describe recruitment rates for fathers in GenV including statistically comparing demographic information of participating and non-participating fathers. 
  3. Explore reasons for fathers declining participation and barriers to their participation. 
  4. Provide recommendations for GenV’s future engagement with fathers at the recruitment and retention phases. 

The project findings and recommendations will guide decisions for the refinement of study procedures and have an important legacy in GenV.  

Supervisors: Ms Alisha GulencDr Libby Hughes