Applications for this PhD have now closed.
Location Western Sydney University, School of Medicine
App. deadline 30/06/2016
  • Scholarship available
Eligibility Australian and New Zealand residents

PhD Scholarship: Clinical trial of low viscosity soluble fibre diet in reducing gastroparesis symptoms

Western Sydney University's Gastrointestinal Motility Unit is headed by Dr Vincent Ho, Clinical Academic Gastroenterologist and Director of the Gastroenterology Research Team. Dr Ho leads a team of doctors, academics, clinical researchers and administrative specialists dedicated to better understand the cause of GI motility disorders through both laboratory-testing and clinical research. Our laboratory is located within the School of Medicine, supported jointly by the Sydney South West Local Health District (SSWLHD).

Gastroparesis is a chronic gastric motility disorder characterised by delayed gastric emptying. There are an estimated 125,000 gastroparesis sufferers in Australia. The majority of diagnosed gastroparesis are idiopathic (underlying cause is not known), with the secondly most likely cause attributing to diabetes. Up to 30% to 50% of adult patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes experience chronic gastroparesis. Symptoms include early satiety, postprandial fullness, nausea, vomiting, and upper abdominal pain. There is no cure for gastroparesis; the goals of treatment are to relieve symptoms. Treatment focuses on dietary modifications, control of blood glucose in patients with diabetes, and use of prokinetic and antimetic agents either alone or in combination. 

The general approach to nutritional therapy for patients with gastroparesis focuses on reducing meal size, as well as reducing fibre and fat intake to help control symptoms. Dietary fibres become viscous when mixed with water and can further decrease the ability to clear indigestible fibre from the stomach of gastroparetic patients. Although the avoidance of high fibre foods is recommended, what is not known is the type of fibre and the quantity of fibre that should be withheld. Dietary fibres, especially soluble fibres, are physiologically important in attenuating postprandial blood glucose and insulin levels, and lowering serum cholesterol levels. This may be clinically important because attenuated postprandial blood glucose levels are linked to increased rate of gastro emptying in diabetes. Another approach which has been used in patients with diabetic gastroparesis is a small particle diet which has been shown to improve symptoms as compared to the typical diabetic diet. However, all of these approaches have been largely based on clinical experience as experimental evidence to support these interventions is lacking.

This aim of this study is to determine the rheological properties of different soluble fibre in simulated gastric conditions and investigate the effects of soluble fibre intake on symptoms in patients with gastroparesis. Our hypothesis is that a diet of low concentration, low molecular weight and molecularly complex soluble fibres can reduce symptoms of gastroparesis. From this study, we sought to provide evidence for dietary modification helpful for patients with gastroparesis.

The scholarship is funded in partnership with Western Sydney University, School of Medicine and Rotary Club of Devonport.

What does the scholarship provide?

  • A tax-fee stipend of $29,000 per annum for three and a half years.
  • A funded place in the degree.
  • Successful applicants will be required to address Rotary groups on occasion over the term of the scholarship, in particular the Rotary Club of Devonport. These functions will be arranged at mutually accepted times, and travel expenses will be covered by Australian Rotary Health.


  • Applicants must be an Australian citizen, Australian Permanent Resident, or New Zealand citizen, and not be under bond to any foreign government. Evidence of citizenship (citizenship certificate, birth certificate, and passport) or residential status must accompany this application.
  • Applicant's receiving additional stipend funding, such as an APA or NHMRC scholarship, are not eligible to apply. If you have not yet received confirmation of additional funding, you may still apply for this scholarship, but must notify Australian Rotary Health immediately if an offer is made, in which case your application will be withdrawn.
How to apply
  • Applicants should discuss their eligibility and research interests with Dr Vincent Ho ( or Dr Jerry Zhou ( prior to applying.
  • Ensure that you include all of the required information as incomplete applications may not be considered.
  • Additional information can be viewed here

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Further Information / Application Enquiries

Dr Vincent Ho