The University of Newcastle, Australia

"Obesity Paradox" in Stroke: Studies on the Blood-brain Barrier

Closing Date: 31 January 2019

PhD Scholarship

Obesity is a major risk factor for stroke. However, many studies suggest a better prognosis in obese patients after stroke. The aim of this project is to investigate the underlying mechanisms with a focus on the blood-brain barrier.

Brain stroke

Obesity is a major risk factor for stroke. Pre-clinical studies have shown that obesity worsens outcomes in rodents. However, many clinical studies suggest a better outcome in obese patients after stroke. This "obesity paradox" is still under debate and the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Since both obesity and stroke are major public health issues, it is important to fully understand the association between these two diseases. The effects of obesity on stroke outcome appear to converge at the cerebral vasculature and the blood–brain barrier (BBB, the physiological barrier that protects the brain from blood-borne toxins and pathogens, and regulates molecular traffic between the blood and the brain). Both animal and human studies suggests that inflammation and oxidative stress is key in mediating these effects, contributing to the demise of the ischaemic penumbra (the potentially salvageable tissue surrounding the dead ischaemic core). This project will investigate the effects of obesity on the BBB in contributing to protection during ischaemic stroke. The project will be carried out at the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute (located on the John Hunter Hospital Campus). The student will use a range of preclinical stroke and obesity models, including a novel model to specifically target fat cells. In addition, the student will have the opportunity to work on cell culture models of the BBB, and gain experience in advanced microsurgical skills, lipidomics and microscopy techniques. They will join a team undertaking an array of preclinical and clinical research in this field, and will have access to cutting-edge laboratory equipment, exceptional mentoring opportunities, and possible collaborative work with overseas biopharmaceutical companies. Applicants should have strong work ethics, and communication and teamwork skills. Out of hours and weekend work maybe required due to the nature of the project. Scholarship available to domestic applicants only. Self-funded overseas applicants maybe considered.

PhD Scholarship details

Funding: $27,082 per annum (2018 rate) indexed annually. The living allowance scholarship is for 3.5 years and the tuition fee scholarship is for four years. Scholarships also include up to $1,500 relocation allowance if applicable.

Supervisor: Dr Adjanie Patabendige (Principal Supervisor), A/Prof Doan Ngo and Prof Neil Spratt (Co-Supervisors), and A/Prof Anthony Don, University of Sydney (Collaborator/External Supervisor)

Available to: Domestic students


Eligibility Criteria

In addition to the minimum eligibility criteria, we are seeking applications from individuals who have completed, or are shortly expected to complete, an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science or an equivalent degree. Applicants are required to have a first class or second-class upper honours degree. Strong proficiency in English is essential. The successful applicant must be able to commence their PhD by 31 March 2019.

Application Procedure

Interested applicants should send an email expressing their interest along with scanned copies of their academic transcripts, CV, a brief statement of their research interests and a proposal that specifically links them to the research project.

Please send the email expressing interest to by 5pm on 31 January 2019.

Applications Close 31 January 2019

Contact Dr Adjanie Patabendige
Phone +61 2 4921 7856

PhD and Research MastersFind out more