We offer two Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) PhD scholarships – described in section below “About the PhD Stipend Scholarships”. The 2 PhD scholarships are available to undertake research in the areas of neuroimaging of addiction and mental health. Join us to undertake fun, exciting and innovative research on the brain and mental health.
The successful candidates will join the newly-founded Neuroscience of Addiction and Mental Health Program, where we host a vibrant and rapidly growing research team with ~20 people between staff and research students (PhDs, Honours, Masters, volunteers); and a broader research team of the Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre (HBMRC) at ACU.
The Neuroscience of Addiction and Mental Health Program focuses on studying the clinical, cognitive and brain mechanisms underlying substance use and related mental health problems (e.g., depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders). Specifically, our research aims to map and mitigate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying addiction and mental health problems using unique global consortia, next-generation multimodal brain imaging tools, rigorous experiments and evidence-based interventions.
The successful applicants’ supervisory team will include
Dr Valentina Lorenzetti (https://www.acu.edu.au/research/our-research-institutes/healthy-brain-and-mind-research-centre/our-people/dr-valentina-lorenzetti | https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Valentina-Lorenzetti) and
Professor Val Curran (https://uat.acu.edu.au/about-acu/institutes-academies-and-centres/cognition-and-emotion-research-centre/our-people/professor-val-curran | https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/people/valerie-curran).
The successful applicants will work with and have access to a multidisciplinary supervisory team including also non-ACU world leading experts. You will have opportunities of training in the required neuroimaging methods in high-quality national/international research centres. Co-supervisors depend on the specific PhD project selected and include
- Prof. Andrew Zalesky (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
- Dr Bradford Moffatt (The University of Melbourne, Australia)
- Dr. Tom Freeman (Director of the Addiction and Mental Health Group (AIM) within the Department of Psychology, Bath University, The United Kingdom)
- Prof. Hugh Garavan (Head of the ENIGMA Addiction Working Group, Vermont University, USA)
- Prof Gunter Schumann (King’s College London, The United Kingdom)
About Australian Catholic University
ACU is a world-leading research university in our priority areas of education, health, and theology and philosophy. Research excellence at ACU is founded on the principles of social justice and attracts leading experts, students and collaborators from across the globe. These PhD scholarships are offered in the fields of psychology (1701 FOR Code) and exercise science (1106 FOR Code). According to the Academic Ranking of World Universities, ACU is ranked in the top 100 Young Universities, worldwide. In the 2018 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment, psychology and exercise science research at ACU received the top score (5/5), rated as well-above world standard.
About the Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre (HBMRC)
The Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre (HBMRC)
aims to advance knowledge critical to improving mental health, physical performance and well-being. Mental health, brain-related, and developmental disorders have significant negative impacts upon the mortality and social participation of the most vulnerable members of the community and are among the most urgent global challenges of the 21st century. The Centre will make significant contributions to mental health, physical performance, participation and well-being by integrating cutting edge research expertise and technology spanning neuroscience, addiction science, clinical psychology, developmental psychology and rehabilitation science to improve the understanding, prevention and treatment of mental health, brain-related and developmental disorders. One of three leading research Programs in the HBMRC is, Neuroscience of Addiction and Mental Health
About the PhD stipend scholarships
Two (2) Australian Government Research Training Program PhD Scholarships are being offered in 2021 to support the work of Dr. Lorenzetti and her team at the Neuroscience of Addiction and Mental Health Program. The Scholarships are available for driven and high-performing candidates.
Project one: Mapping neurodevelopmental trajectories in young substance users using longitudinal MRI consortia
1. You will conduct world-leading research to unpack novel research questions, including:
a) Who are the youth most vulnerable to develop substance use onset and entrenched mental health problems? You will address this question using cutting-edge multimodal imaging (functional/structural connectivity), psychosocial, and cognitive data.
b) Are longitudinal trajectories of neurodevelopment different in adolescents who use substances and those who don’t, and what is the role of entrenched mental health problems?
c) What is the role of neurotoxic and neuroprotective cannabinoids found in commonly available cannabis, in driving aberrant brain integrity in cannabis using youth?
2. To address these research questions, you will learn sophisticated high-res imaging techniques that measure brain integrity in-vivo
3. You will be working with multi-modal imaging data from prestigious longitudinal consortia, including
a) the IMAGEN consortium: the first multicentre functional and structural genetic-neuroimaging study of a cohort of 2000 +14 year old adolescents followed-up for five years with comprehensive cognitive, behavioural, clinical and neuroimaging data. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn/depts/mrc/research/imagen.aspx
b) The Brazilian High Risk Cohort.
4. You will work with an ambitious, expert and inclusive supervisory team to disseminate study results via publication in high quality neuroscientific journals.
5. You will be expected to complete a PhD thesis.
Project two: Mapping neurocognitive harms and recovery in substance dependence, using mindfulness and multimodal neuroimaging
1. You will conduct world-leading research to unpack novel research questions, including:
2. Which brain pathways are affected in substance use disorders, particularly in those with more severe use and related mental health problems?
3. Can we mitigate brain harms in substance use disorders, using evidence based interventions?
For the PhD, these interventions can include either:
a. Mindfulness brain intervention, as part of the world-first double blind active placebo controlled multimodal MRI experiment (pre-registered here http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN76056942)
b. Non-invasive brain intervention, using real time fMRI-based neurofeedback with a 7Tesla high-resolution MRI scanner
4. To address these research questions, you will learn sophisticated high-res imaging techniques that measure brain integrity in-vivo
5. You will work with an ambitious, expert and inclusive supervisory team to disseminate study results via publication in high quality neuroscientific journals.
6. You will be expected to complete a PhD thesis.
PhD eligibility criteria
· Highly motivated, with a strong interest in addiction, psychopathology, neuroscience, neurodevelopment and/or policy.
· Excellent English written and verbal communications skills.
· Experience in neuroimaging / biostatistics data analysis
· Experience in writing publications in peer reviewed scientific journals
· Experience with statistical and computer programming skills (e.g., scripting, Matlab, LINUX).
· A numerate background – e.g., a Master's degree in computer science, mathematics, engineering, medical image analysis or related discipline
Study mode and location
Full-time for three (3) years based at the Healthy Brain and Mind Research Centre in the School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Melbourne or Brisbane Campus, commencing in Research Term C 2021
Value and duration
- A Research Training Program Stipend of A$28,597 per annum (tax-free, indexed) for three (3) years, subject to satisfactory progress and full-time study mode; and
- A Research Training Program Fees Offset Scholarship; that is a tuition fee waiver for three (3) years.
11:59pm Sunday 9th May 2021 AEST
How to apply
This scholarship is open to domestic candidates who are either a citizen or permanent resident of Australia, or a citizen of New Zealand.
Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Dr Valentina Lorenzetti before submitting an application for the PhD program and this scholarship:
To be considered for these scholarships, applicants must submit all documentation required for an application to the PhD program at ACU, as detailed in the ‘How to Apply’ instructions on the ACU Research Web Page, plus:
- A CV detailing relevant academic and practical experience;
- A cover letter detailing demonstrated interest and/or experience in the program of research described.
For general candidature enquiries, email Candidature Services on firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject line ‘PhD Stipend Scholarship specialist research area: Neuroscience of Addiction and Mental Health’.