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Early Moves: A prospective cohort study to identify an early biomarker for cognitive impairment

Faculty of Health Sciences

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Prof C Elliott No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The lifelong impact of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) inflicts enormous personal and financial burden on the individual, their family and community. The current diagnostic pathways for NDD rarely identify babies at risk of cognitive impairment early. Without early detection and timely targeted intervention, these children have poorer health outcomes and do not reach their full life potential. Early Moves aims to identify early biomarkers for babies at risk of cognitive impairment.

Early Moves is a double blind prospective cohort study, recruiting 3,000 babies involved in the ORIGINS project. The ORIGINS project is a cohort study of 10,000 families, creating a biobank and databank to understand how early life exposures impact children’s growth, development and health. In Early Moves, parents will use a novel smart-phone app called Baby Moves to video their babies General Movements (GMs), with automated scoring being developed through machine-learning. GMs are spontaneous movements of babies less than 3 months old and provide insight into the function of a baby’s brain. GMs are highly predictive of motor impairment, such as cerebral palsy (98%sensitivity). Emerging evidence suggests that abnormal GMs may indicate a high risk for cognitive impairment including NDD’s such as autism spectrum disorder. Early Moves will determine if GMs are a biomarker of cognitive delay determined at 2 years using Bayley-4, enabling targeted early intervention during this critical time of brain development.

Successful applicants must meet the Curtin University entry requirements for admission into a Higher Degree by Research course.

Students who commence studies offshore will receive a set lump sum payment in lieu of the stipend upon completion of Milestone 1. After Milestone 1 the stipend will commence for up to 3 years minus any prior consumed EFTSL.

If you are interested in this position, please submit your expression of interest as soon as possible.

Funding Notes

Total value of the annual scholarships (stipend and fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a.

Curtin PhD Stipends are valued at $28,092 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3.5 years. PhD tuition fees offsets between 75% – 100% will apply.

Successful recipients of this scholarship will receive scholarship benefits including:
- Tuition Fee Offset (up to 4 years)
- Stipend payments whilst located onshore in Australia
- Research Support Funds
- Mobility Funds
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