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PhD projects

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

Mapping hospital health records in Victoria, Australia for tracking pregnancy medicines use

Mapping hospital health records in Victoria, Australia for tracking pregnancy medicines use

Project description: More than 80% of pregnant women and infants receive a prescribed medicine during their pregnancy and early-life time. For many medicines it is unknown whether there are important impacts on fetal and childhood outcomes from in-utero exposure. Within the consented ‘Generation Victoria’ cohort, targeting all 150,000 births over two years beginning in 2021 at all 70 birthing hospitals in the state of Victoria, this PhD candidate will assist to map the health records information through a common data model, address the research challenges of prescribed medicines during pregnancy and early infants and the related impact on children’s health outcomes. When considered with GenV’s outcomes data, this unique evidence base can quantify the impacts on mother and offspring of variation in prescribed medicine during pregnancy, including both under- and over-utilization, at the individual and policy level. This project offers immense opportunities to establish a career with leadership in pharmacovigilance and pregnancy health research.

Supervisors: Dr Jessika HuProf Melissa Wake, Dr Daniel Capurro

Pre/perinatal antibiotics use related polices impact on child health outcomes

Pre/perinatal antibiotics use related polices impact on child health outcomes

Project description: At least one in five pregnant women receive an antibiotic during pregnancy, and many more in the lead up to or during labour. There is a lack of detailed studies on policies’ impact of prescribed antibiotics on health and developmental outcomes in early childhood, both at the individual and the population level. There is evidence for example that antibiotic use during pregnancy influences the frequency of childhood infections. The consented ‘Generation Victoria’ cohort is targeting all 150,000 births over two years beginning in 2021 at all 70 birthing hospitals in the state of Victoria; it will eventually contain both GenV-collected exposure and outcomes data as well as linked clinical and administrative data, for example from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS), hospitals prescribing and neonatal health outcomes. This PhD candidate will focus on investigating 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. The landmark GenV platform thus offers immense opportunities to establish a career with leadership in pregnancy pharmacovigilance and child health research.   

Supervisors: Dr Jessika HuProf Melissa Wake

Why are babies in SCNs/NICUs at higher risk of permanent hearing loss?

Why are babies in SCNs/NICUs at higher risk of permanent hearing loss?

Project description: Around one in five liveborn babies require admission to a special care nursery (SCN) or neonatal care unit (NICU). Admission to SCN/NICU is a known risk factor for permanent hearing loss. Babies admitted to NICUs have up to 8 times higher likelihood of hearing loss than well babies. Many factors have been hypothesized to play a role, including immaturity, anaemia, infection/inflammation, ototoxic drugs, environmental noise, jaundice, intracranial haemorrhage/encephalopathy and hypoxia, all of which may interact with genetic risks. However, there is still little understanding of the causal pathways to hearing loss in these babies, and we urgently need better understanding of any potentially modifiable risk factors to prevent hearing loss in SCN/NICU babies.

Within the ‘Generation Victoria’ cohort, targeting all 150,000 Victorian births over two years from 2021 and encompassing Victoria’s 5 NICUs and 40 SCNs, this PhD will assist in setting up a new statewide SCN registry and identify the potentially modifiable risk factors associated with hearing loss in SCN/NICU babies. It could lead to practice and policy changes in SCNs/NICUs. The PhD offers immense opportunities to establish a career and leadership in transformative newborn and child hearing loss research.

Supervisors: A/Prof Valerie SungProf Melissa WakeDr Jing Wang 

Improving lifetime outcomes for babies in special care nurseries

Improving lifetime outcomes for babies in special care nurseries

Project description: More than 10% of newborns are admitted to special care nurseries (SCN), many experiencing lifelong adverse outcomes. Within the ‘Generation Victoria’ cohort, targeting all 150,000 Victorian births over two years from 2021 and encompassing all 28 SCNs, this PhD will assist in setting up a new statewide SCN registry. It will overcome research challenges of dispersed care and difficulties in long-term outcomes measurement to build an evidence base for better physical, mental and developmental outcomes. GenV’s linked datasets, digital ‘ePhenome’ will support exploration of the impacts of variations in care and comparisons with the general population. It offers immense opportunities to establish a career and leadership in transformative newborn and child health services research. 

Supervisors: Prof Melissa Wake, A/Prof Jeanie CheongDr Jing Wang