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Common severe childhood infections, innate inflammatory responses and cardiometabolic risk: The VASCular changes aFter INfectious Diseases (VASCFIND) study

Project Description

Infection, the commonest reason for childhood hospital admission, is a major driver of inflammation and is associated with cardiometabolic risk and disease. This established prospective study investigates how severe childhood infection affects innate inflammatory immune responses and cardiometabolic health. It encompasses both clinical assessments and laboratory studies.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in adults, but the underlying cause - ‘hardening of the arteries’ (atherosclerosis) - begins in childhood. Inflammation, a normal response to infection, may contribute to atherosclerosis. Infections are common and severe childhood infections predict adult cardiovascular disease.

In a unique study (VASCular changes aFter INfectious Diseases, VASCFIND), we are currently measuring early cardiovascular changes in children with recent severe infection. This project investigates:
- innate inflammatory immune responses and the role of trained immunity
- non-invasive cardiovascular and metabolic phenotypes
- underlying mechanisms, particularly metabolomic profiles

The PhD therefore involves patient recruitment, clinical assessments and molecular laboratory work, with a substantial analytical component. The successful applicant will join a dynamic, friendly and productive research group with considerable expertise in these areas. Full training and appropriate support is available.

The novel findings from this project will increase understanding of the immunological effects of severe infection and the early development of cardiovascular disease, paving the way to earlier intervention and prevention and result in a number of publications that will form the basis of the PhD thesis.

The project would be suitable for dynamic individuals with a clinical and/or laboratory background.

****To receive a reply, interested applicants should contact both supervisors with the following please:****
- their CV (including academic references)
- details of their GPA (applicants should have H1 Honours and a GPA of >80, or equivalent)
- an original brief synopsis (max 1 page) addressing why trained innate immunity may be relevant to the research project

Enquiries from overseas (non-Australian) students who meet these criteria are welcome.

Funding Notes

It is expected that suitable candidates will either already have, or be competitive and able to apply for, their own PhD scholarship. Limited funding is available for PhD top-up and laboratory consumables


A selection of recent publications related to the current project:
PMID: 26284653
PMID: 29367213
PMID: 31026022
PMID: 30685770
PMID: 30449694
PMID: 29415232

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