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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. 

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 

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

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