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PhD Scholar at The University of Queensland

The University of Queensland is pleased to invite applicants to apply for a PhD position in public health. This position is available for 3 years. The deadline to apply is November 30, 2018.

The Faculty of Medicine is a leading provider of medical education and medical research in Queensland, with the country’s largest medical program. The four-year graduate entry medical program offers an integrated, case-based curriculum including early clinical experiences. The School is a diverse enterprise operating over multiple sites, with Queensland Health and private health service providers as major partners. Geographically, the School extends throughout Queensland with major sites in Brisbane, the outer metropolitan areas, and a number of rural and remote area facilities throughout the rest of the state. The UQ medical degree is also delivered overseas in Brunei and the United States of America, emphasising the global nature of the School.

Mater Research Institute-UQ (MRI-UQ) is a world class institute committed to academic research and its translation into clinical care for the benefit of all. MRI-UQ is an alliance between Mater Research and UQ, providing considerable strategic and operational benefits to both parties. Mater Research brings to the alliance considerable clinical collaboration opportunites and UQ brings all its expertise as a research, education and teaching. Mater Research Institute has more than 300 research staff, post graduate students and clinical researchers. There are currently 70 students undertaking a PhD or Honours program. The project supervisors are Prof Vicki Flenady, known widely as a perinatal epidemiologist and Prof David Ellwood a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist. The Mater Mothers' Hospital in Brisbane is the largest maternity hospital in Australia with over 10,000 births each year.

The Stillbirth CRE is a national program funded by the NHMRC, and is a collaborative to bring leading experts together across Australia (http://www.stillbirthcre.org.au/). The overarching purpose of the Stillbirth CRE is to generate new knowledge that will lead to a reduction in the stillbirth rate and improve quality of care after stillbirth. With 6 stillbirths occurring in Australia every day (and over 7000 worldwide) and with major long-lasting psychosocial and financial burden to families this is an urgent issue. Many of these deaths are potentially preventable with improved clinical care. The Stillbirth CRE is working closely with researchers, maternity care providers, parents and the community across a priority driven research program which has a major focus on understanding factors contributing to stillbirth, implementing high quality research into clinical practice and community awareness. The group works internationally through the International Stillbirth Alliance. The Director of the Stillbirth CRE is Professor Vicki Flenady, and the coordinating centre is located in Brisbane.

An exciting opportunity exists for a student interested in pursuing a PhD around reducing stillbirth through improving understanding of causes by developing an optimal approach to investigating the causes of stillbirth. Stillbirth is a devastating pregnancy outcome with approximately 2,200 babies stillborn each year in Australia. Many stillbirths occur unexpectedly in late gestation in an apparently healthy mother and up to 50% remain unexplained. The lack of diagnosis leaves parents struggling with questions of "what went wrong" and whether this will happen again in a subsequent pregnancy. The currently high proportion of unexplained stillbirths is a major barrier to identifying strategies to reduce the stillbirth rate. However, many stillbirths are under investigated and the unexplained stillbirth represents a heterogeneous population including those missed diagnosis and those that are yet to be explained through future research. The current lack of evidence for recommended testing is a significant barrier to understanding the causes of stillbirth.

The successful candidate will be enrolled in a higher degree by research and carry out a research project including detailed examination of causes of death in a cohort of an estimated 650 stillbirths and the value of recommended stillbirth investigations including autopsy and placental examination according to presenting scenario. The value of the yield from autopsy will be ascertained from the perspective of the clinician and the parent. A systematic review will be undertaken to summarise the world literature on the value of investigations for stillbirths. Further, detailed review of placental findings will inform revisions to the national classification system for stillbirth.

A PhD opportunity is available for a student with an Honours/Masters degree in a science related field, Obstetrics, Midwifery and/or Clinical Epidemiology to join the Stillbirth Centre of Research Excellence coordinating centre at MRI-UQ. The successful candidate will be enrolled in a higher degree by research (PhD) at University of Queensland and carry out a research project focusing on stillbirth prevention in Australia through improving investigation and classification of causes thereby informing effective prevention strategies and future research.

Applicants must comply with the relevant entry requirements:

a) Applicants should possess a Bachelor (H1 or H2A) with honours or a Masters Degree majoring in a science related field and be eligible for a competitive living allowance scholarship (e.g. RPT) to support full-time study.

b) Applicants must have a background in public health or obstetrics or midwifery.

c) Applicants must have the ability to develop skills in general research, methodology and statistics.

d) Applicants must be able to enrol full-time in the PhD program.

e) Applicants will have excellent writing abilities, and work effectively within a multidisciplinary and international research team.

f) Experience with data management and analysis of quantitative and qualitative research data is desirable. As is experience using statistical software such as R, Stata, or SAS.

g) Familiarity with ICD-9, ICD-10, or ICD-PM classification systems is encouraged.

The University of Queensland values diversity and inclusion and actively encourages applications from those who bring diversity to the University. Please refer to the University's Diversity and Inclusion webpage (https://staff.uq.edu.au/information-and-services/human-resources/diversity) for further information and points of contact if you require additional support.

Accessibility requirements and/or adjustments can be directed to med.hr@uq.edu.au.

A place in this group is contingent upon the applicant successfully attaining an external scholarship (the RTP, or equivalent, valued at $27, 596 per annum (2019) for 3 years, with a possible six-month extension). RTP recipients are eligible to apply for generous top-up scholarship schemes within the Mater Research Institute Stillbirth CRE worth an additional $9,000 per annum. Scholarships are tax exempt for Australian citizens and residents. University fees may apply to overseas candidates.

To discuss this role please contact Dr Sarah Henry by email at sarah.henry@mater.uq.edu.au.

Visit our UQ Graduate School website for full terms and conditions at http://www.uq.edu.au/grad-school

To submit an application for this role, please email stillbirthcre@mater.uq.edu.au. All applicants must supply the following documents: Cover letter (explaining your interest in and suitability to undertake research in this area) and Resume.


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