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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Dr Erin Howden

Evaluating the effects of physical activity and lifestyle modification on cardiometabolic health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults

Project summary

Physical activity participation can improve health, social wellbeing and life expectancy. Our team is interested in understanding the effects of changing physical activity levels in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. One successful vehicle for physical activity behaviour change is the Indigenous Marathon Project. The Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) is a multi-dimensional program that includes exercise, education, and skill development. The program culminates in the participants running a major marathon and graduates are then encouraged to “give back to their communities”. The aim of this project is to determine the health and wellbeing effects of IMP with participants and their communities. We will use these learnings to co-design a new pathway that supports IMP runners to give back to their communities and we will evaluate the impact of this program. In addition, the student will have the opportunity to be involved in other lifestyle related projects currently led by researchers from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne and Central Australia.

The project involves a diverse national team of leading exercise and physical activity researchers, cardiologists, Indigenous and public health, and sports policy researchers. Additionally, our team includes a mix of early, mid and senior researchers, as well Aboriginal researchers who will provide student mentoring and support. 

This project is suitable for an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander* PhD student.

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Expressions of interest are now open.

How to apply

This PhD opportunity is available to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people only*.

Applicants should have obtained an Honours or Masters degree in exercise physiology, health or biomedical science, or related field, and meet the PhD entry requirements at the enrolling University.

For more information and to discuss this opportunity please contact:

Dr Erin Howden
Head, Human Integrative Physiology
Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute


More information

This project is supported by a 3.5 year scholarship, with a minimum payment of $32,500 per year.

Student support
In addition to support from the Baker Institute team, additional support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is available through:

  • Opportunities to connect with other Aboriginal PhD students through the University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales, and University of Canberra.
  • Training opportunities, professional development workshops.
  • Cultural, personal and research support is available for students to enable you to complete your research degree.

Indigenous Marathon Foundation
The Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) is a health promotion charity that uses running to celebrate Indigenous resilience and achievement and create inspirational Indigenous leaders. Running and physical activity underpin all IMF programs and the IMF is committed to providing social, inclusive, and fun environments for people to adopt active and healthy lifestyles.

* The Institute is seeking to appoint a PhD student for the next 3.5 years. To tackle the underrepresentation of First Nation students and researchers at the Institute, and in accordance with Part 2, Section 12 of the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act, 2010 we request that Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander applicants only apply. 

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