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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Associate Professor Costan Magnussen and Professor Tom Marwick

This project will contribute directly to a comprehensive program of work that aims to delay or prevent heart disease in adult cancer survivors by developing new and readily accessible approaches to identify and guide management of those at risk of heart disease.

Project summary

Advances in identifying and treating cancer mean that more Australians are living well beyond their cancer diagnosis. Although increased survival among cancer patients is a significant medical achievement, it has an unintended consequence. With heart disease approximately 2 to 6 times higher in cancer survivors and almost 2 million Australians expected to be living with a personal history of cancer in 2040, the burden of heart disease in these people will require healthcare and attract health care costs incremental to those from cancer. In this large and ageing cohort of cancer survivors, it will be necessary to understand factors that could help identify those at heightened risk and to develop models of care to reduce heart disease.

We aim to determine the frequency of heart disease, including heart failure, coronary heart disease, and arrhythmia among adult cancer survivors and will establish how cancer type, age, comorbid risk factors, cancer therapy, and a healthy lifestyle might impact these heart events.

The data for this project has already been collected from large epidemiological studies of humans, but the scope and research question the student addresses can be adapted to align best with their interests. Whether the student prefers studying biochemical measures or has a passion for public health, clinical medicine, cardiovascular disease, genetics, cancer, statistics, sports science, or lifestyle factors (nutrition, physical activity, smoking) — we encourage the student to get in touch with us to discuss the study, potential project ideas, and how best we can work together.

The research team

You will be part of the Imaging Research laboratory at the Baker Institute, led by Professor Tom Marwick. This laboratory is a dynamic team of early, mid and senior researchers spanning clinical and epidemiological research. Your supervisory team will be A/Professor Costan Magnussen and Professor Tom Marwick.

Costan is a mid-career researcher with over 200 peer-reviewed publications — principally in the childhood origins of adult cardiovascular and metabolic health. He has a Bachelor of Human Movement (Sports Science) with First Class Honours and a PhD in epidemiology. He has supervised 30 research students to completion with over 40 publications coming as a direct result of this work. Costan has a broad interest base in child, adolescent, and young adult health and its association with future health, with his work having impact on childhood screening for cardiovascular health.

Tom is a senior cardiovascular disease clinician-scientist who is globally recognised for his expertise in pre-clinical disease detection, especially in cancer survivors.

Related methods, skills or technologies

We are seeking a candidate with a willingness to learn new skills and problem solve. A candidate who enjoys a challenge, with a strong work ethic, critical thinking skills and the ability to work autonomously, while also contributing to a wider team, would be a great fit. A passion or interest in public health, cardiovascular imaging, epidemiology, risk management, clinical decision making and/or biostatistics is desirable.

This project will provide the opportunity for the student to explore different statistical analytic techniques to explore data collected at one or several time-points, while learning key epidemiological and clinical concepts. Please note, this project is not laboratory based but biochemical and imaging measures will be considered. The student will become part of a supportive team who are passionate about their fields and in conducting high-quality research that addresses current knowledge gaps to better future health outcomes. The group will help familiarise the student with the key skills and qualities required to pursue a career in research and related fields.

This project is suitable for a PhD student.

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