Higher Degree Research Opportunities

Select a research stream below to view the current higher degree research opportunities and projects on offer at NICM Health Research Institute.

To register your interest in a project, please contact the lead supervisor. For information about applying for higher degree research and scholarships, please contact the Graduate Research School.(opens in a new window)


Healthy Women

The women's health program at NICM HRI covers menstrual health of young women, pregnancy, infertility, menopause and gynaecological disorders.

Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/sCourse/s

Developing, implementing and evaluating a model of care for integrative women's health in an academic clinic

  1. Conduct a systematic review.
  2. Conduct qualitative research on how to integrate well-evidenced complementary therapies into routine care for female reproductive health (pregnancy and birth/fertility/gynaecology).

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Acupuncture for weight loss in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): a Delphi study

  1. Investigate and determine the consensus amongst acupuncture practitioners on the optimal dose of acupuncture for weight management in PCOS, using the Delphi consensus method.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Development of an integrative healthy women program in the areas of menopause, menstrual disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), weight, fertility, pregnancy

  1. Develop and evaluate a clinic program offering evidence-based complementary and integrative therapies in the areas of menopause/menstrual disorders/PCOS/weight/fertility and pregnancy.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Acupuncture for weight loss in PCOS

  1. Systematic review.
  2. Analysis of pilot RCT data.
  3. Qualitative study of acceptability of the intervention.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Acupuncture for pelvic pain in pregnancy: variety of projects including group acupuncture programs

  1. Develop and evaluate a program offering complementary and integrative therapies (including acupuncture) for pelvic pain in pregnancy, in collaboration with Westmead Hospital's Women’s and Newborn Clinic.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Mind-body therapies for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  1. Evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of mind body therapies such as yoga, tai chi and mindfulness meditation for PCOS.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Mindfulness for weight gain prevention in pregnancy

  1. Develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a mindfulness program for weight gain prevention in pregnancy and between pregnancies.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Collaborative models of integrative healthcare in pregnancy (with midwifery)

  1. Explore, implement and evaluate collaborative models of integrative healthcare in pregnancy with midwifery and obstetric disciplines.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

What do clinical guidelines say about complementary medicine use in women’s health?

  1. Systematic review of clinical guidelines on fertility, labour and birth, gynaecology.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Mindfulness-based interventions for women’s reproductive health

  1. Conduct a scoping review on the breadth, depth and gaps in research on MBIs for women’s reproductive health.
  2. Based on gaps identified, conduct a study on MBIs for an aspect of women’s reproductive health (feasibility/acceptability qualitative study, pilot RCT).

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Healthy Minds

The neurological and mental health program at NICM HRI focuses on the prevention and treatment of dementia and neurocognitive decline and improvement of mental health in response to integrative medicine treatment.

Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/sCourse/s

Australian bush medicines as a source of anti-inflammatory compounds for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease

  1. Assess the potency of a variety of extracts from Australian bush medicines for their anti-inflammatory potential.
  2. Fractionate potent extracts and isolate active components, and determine their chemical structure using analytical and spectrometric methods.

Professor Gerald Muench
g.muench@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Ritesh Raju
r.raju@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Electrophysiological biomarkers of early-stage Alzheimer's disease

  1. Triangulate data from a range of sources to identify novel, inexpensive, yet widely available biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.

Applicants with a background in neuroscience, anatomy and physiology, medical science, or computer science would have a distinct advantage.

Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner
g.steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

How does neuroplasticity change with age?

  1. Identify changes in brain mechanisms of neuroplasticity and how they change across the lifespan.

Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner
g.steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Electrophysiological correlates of decision-making strategies in older adults

  1. Investigate differences in the brain function that underpins decision-making strategies in young and older adults.

Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner
g.steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

Associate Professor Phoebe Bailey
p.bailey@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Healthy Lives Through The Cancer Journey

The cancer care program at NICM HRI focuses on understanding how integrative medicine may assist with cancer management and side effects of conventional cancer treatment.

Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/sCourse/s

Weight after breast cancer

  1. Review the effectiveness of complementary and lifestyle medicine for managing weight after breast cancer.
  2. Conduct qualitative research with consumers to determine research priorities and design in this area.
  3. Conduct interventional and mechanistic research to identify effective interventions for weight after breast cancer (e.g. acupuncture, mind body therapies, shared medical appointments).

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Acupuncture for pain and symptom management in an inpatient setting in a cancer hospital

  1. Develop a protocol for a hybrid effectiveness-implementation study to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture to manage pain and other symptoms and improve patient satisfaction.
  2. Evaluate the barriers and facilitators to implementing an on-going acupuncture service for inpatients.

This study could be undertaken in two parts or as a larger piece of work.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

Adjunct Associate Professor Judith Lacey

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Micronutrient deficiencies and Cancer

  1. Retrospectively investigate a dataset of patients at a cancer hospital to characterise and identify the prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies.
  2. Examine any correlation between symptom burden and micronutrient deficiencies.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

Adjunct Associate Professor Judith Lacey

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Acupuncture protocols for cancer-related symptoms

  1. Develop acupuncture treatment protocols (based on academic literature) for cancer-related symptoms and document any safety considerations for specific symptoms.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Lymphoedema (LE) screening in women with breast cancer at a major cancer hospital

  1. Identify the prevalence and characteristics of LE screening at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse over the last two years.
  2. Identify and assess barriers and facilitators for LE screening.

The candidate will work with the clinicians and research team within the integrative oncology and supportive care department at the hospital.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Integrative healthcare: evidence based clinical pathways

  1. Develop evidence-based clinical pathways and summaries for complementary therapies for different health conditions to inform practice within an academic integrative healthcare centre in Western Sydney (Westmead).

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

An online portal for a cancer rehabilitation program
  1. Review academic literature to assess the feasibility and implementation of a cancer rehabilitation program online portal at the Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) Centre.
  2. Develop a survey and assess cancer survivor’s views of lifestyle, education modules, yoga, mindfulness and tai chi classes via an online patient portal.

The project would suit a student who is interested in cancer rehabilitation and the interface of technology and health care.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Healthcare professionals (HCP) attitudes to complementary medicine

  1. Review academic literature and assess HCP education on complementary medicine.
  2. Assess HCP changes in attitudes and beliefs to complementary medicine at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

Adjunct Associate Professor Judith Lacey

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Development of an evidence-based matrix of non-pharmacological complementary therapies to treat cancer-related signs and symptoms

  1. Examine existing evidence for complementary therapies
  2. Develop an evidence map or matrix for use of complementary therapies in cancer care

This may be a single project for a single therapy such as mindfulness or acupuncture.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Shared medical appointments for cancer survivors

  1. Co-design a shared medical appointment (SMA) for cancer survivors and evaluate the SMA in a pilot RCT.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Digitally enabled health program for cancer survivors
  1. Assess the feasibility, efficacy and cost-effectiveness of a digital health enabled support and recovery program for people with cancer compared to a waitlist control.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

The establishment of an patient registry for an Integrative healthcare centre
  1. Evaluate an integrative medical centre using a framework to establish a patient registry; practitioner and patient surveys; and data linkage with external datasets.

Dr Suzanne Grant
s.grant@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Healthy Hearts

The cardiovascular and metabolic health program at NICM HRI focuses on understanding how integrative medicine can assist with the prevention and treatment of various cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/sCourse/s

A pilot randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial to evaluate the effects of Nao Xin Qing (NXQ) for ischemic stroke

  1. Evaluate the clinical effectiveness and safety of NXQ in patients with ischemic stroke during the rehabilitation period.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Angelo Sabag
a.sabag@westernsydney.edu.au 

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Association between vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids with cognition assessed by a computerised battery

  1. Determine the association between vitamin D and omega-3 status and cognition as assessed by a computerised battery, electroencephalogram (EEG) testing and a validated food frequency questionnaire.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner
g.steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Anjalee Amarasekera
a.amarasekera@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Diana Karamacoska
d.karamacoska@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Effects and mechanism of action of natural products in vascular calcification

  1. Examine the effects of natural products for the management of vascular calcification, a major characteristic of atherosclerosis, assessed in vascular calcification in vitro and in vivo models.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Chun Guang Li 

Dr Mitchell Low

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Effects and mechanism of actions of herbal medicines in neurovascular unit (NVU)

  1. Develop novel herbal formula for the treatment of cerebrovascular diseases, such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.
  2. Assess the effects and mechanisms of action of herbal preparations using a co-culture model of neurovascular unit.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Effects and mechanism of actions of herbal medicines in vascular reactivity

  1. Investigate the vascular effects of Chinese herbal medicines for the treatment of hypertension, stroke and/or diabetes-related vascular complications, using both ex vivo and in vivo models

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Angelo Sabag
a.sabag@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Effects of prebiotics on gut microbiota in metabolic syndrome

  1. Assess the effects of prebiotics on gut microbiota and metabolic profiles in a high fat diet-induced metabolic syndrome model in rats.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Srinivas Nammi
s.nammi@westernsydney.edu.au

Adjunct Professor Mohammad Tariq
m.tariq@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Deep Bhuyan
d.bhuyan@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Leaf extract versus olive oil supplementation on biomarkers associated with cardiometabolic risk and glycaemic control and serum antioxidant levels

  1. Investigate the effect of Olive leaf extract supplementation versus Olive oil on metabolic risk factors, insulin growth factors, inflammatory markers, and various extracellular antioxidant proteins.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Alan Bensoussan
a.bensoussan@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Diana Karamacoska
d.karamacoska@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Neuroprotective and angiogenic effects of herbal medicine in zebrafish

  1. Assess the neuroprotective and angiogenic effects of herbal medicine and its key bioactive components using the zebrafish model.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Xian (Phoebe) Zhou
p.zhou@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Nutrient supplementation and complementary medicine use in people with type 2 diabetes

  1. Assess the use of nutritional supplements and complementary medicine practices by people living with type 2 diabetes.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Angelo Sabag
a.sabag@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Complementary therapies for weight management

  1. Conduct a systematic review on complementary therapies for weight management (acupuncture/mind body/nutraceuticals).
  2. Conduct a qualitative study (e.g. randomised controlled trials, mechanistic work) exploring the views of people with obesity (PwO) on complementary therapies for weight management.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Mind body therapies for managing cardiovascular risk factors (weight, diabetes, hypertension)

  1. Develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a mind body therapies program for managing cardiovascular risk factors including overweight/obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Development of a healthy hearts program incorporating complementary/integrative therapies and preventive/lifestyle

  1. Develop and evaluate a program incorporating complementary/integrative therapies and preventive/lifestyle interventions for managing metabolic and cardiovascular conditions which may include diabetes and overweight/obesity.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

High-order synergy prediction of multi-compound combinations against acute inflammation

  1. Investigate optimal multi-compound combinations against acute inflammation using cellular model and bioassays.
  2. Predict response and synergy in high-order combinations using Dose Formula by MatLab program.

Dr Xian (Phoebe) Zhou
p.zhou@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

MPhil
MRes

Combined effects of natural compounds on endothelium function against oxidative stress

  1. Based on our preliminary data that selected natural compounds protected endothelial cells against oxidative stress, we aim to further investigate the optimal compound-combinations on relevant zebrafish model.

Dr Xian (Phoebe) Zhou
p.zhou@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Policy and Evidence Translation

The integrative medicine policy and evidence translation at NICM HRI focuses on working with government to build appropriate policy frameworks and improving integrative healthcare practice by translating high-quality research into relevant guidelines and practice protocols.
Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/sCourse/s

Evaluation of the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) model of care: Patient Reported Outcome Measures

  1. Evaluate the impact of the WSIH model of care on health outcomes of patients using a patient registry approach.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Evaluation of the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) model of care: Stakeholder perspectives

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the WSIH model of care from a stakeholder perspective.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) patient engagement strategies

  1. Develop and evaluate the effect of patient engagement strategies on health outcomes and patient experience at WSIH.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Evaluation of patient-centredness in the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH)

  1. Evaluate the extent to which the WSIH model of care provides patient-centred care and how this impacts on other outcomes such as health outcomes and patient experience.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Evaluation of teamwork in the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) model of care

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of teamwork interventions on the extent to which WSIH staff are providing team-based and collaborative care, and the impact on patient health outcomes and experience.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of integrative therapies in the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH)

  1. Evaluate the cost effectiveness of the WSIH model of care.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Implementing active surveillance of adverse events from natural supplements / Chinese herbal medicine (collaboration with SONAR)

  1. Implement and evaluate the effectiveness of an active surveillance program that monitors for adverse events from Chinese herbal medicine.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Evaluation of NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) model of care and safety

  1. Evaluate the extent to which the WSIH model of care is providing safe care.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Improvement of health literacy

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate programs aimed at increasing health literacy amongst patients attending NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH). Health literacy may be specific to a particular health condition or patient group or may be general.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Integrative medicine for the underserved

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate integrative medicine programs that are offered to underserved populations.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Evidence-based practice: Creating and Using evidence summaries in integrative healthcare

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate the use of evidence summaries in integrative healthcare.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Shared medical appointments (SMAs) and complementary therapies: scoping and program development

  1. Develop a program of SMAs combined with group complementary therapies for various health conditions.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

The patient experience at NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH): Who comes, who stays, who goes and why?

  1. Evaluate the patient experience at WSIH.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Why do medical doctors train as yoga teachers? A qualitative study

  1. Conduct a qualitative study to understand the reasons that medical doctors train as yoga teachers, the benefits this brings to them (personally, professionally) how they integrate this into clinical practice.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Other emerging areas of complementary medicine research

NICM HRI is also involved with a number of other areas of research including the identification of bioactive compounds found in natural products and complementary medicine approaches to addressing other common and problematic medical conditions. As with all other concentrations of research, these projects can have a focus of laboratory based work, clinical research, increasing an understanding of complementary medicine use or translating research into policy and practice.
Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/sCourse/s

Shared medical appointment (SMAs) model of care for chronic pain

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a shared medical appointment model of care incorporating complementary therapies for chronic pain conditions.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes

Complementary and integrative therapies for chronic pain amongst Veterans

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate a program incorporating complementary and integrative therapies for chronic pain amongst Veterans.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

PhD
MPhil
MRes