Applications for this PhD have now closed.
Location Western Sydney University, NICM
App. deadline 06/09/2017
  • Please enquire for further details
Project ID HBL005
Eligibility Australian residents only

PhD position in advanced neuroimaging research

Area: HEADBOX Laboratory, NICM, Western Sydney University

Salary (FTE): RTP Scholarship NON-BANDED ($26,682.00 pa)

Work type: Full Time - Fixed Term

Location: Campbelltown, Westmead, and Camperdown

The Western Sydney University is a major urban university spread over six campuses in Greater Western Sydney, a region of great opportunity, diversity, challenge and growth.  The University has a strong connection to Greater Western Sydney, working with its communities and businesses to contribute to the region’s growth.  The University is culturally diverse, with 2,500 staff and 40,000 students drawn from Australia and around the world.  The University strategic plan, Securing Success: 2015-2020 Strategic Plan, articulates the University’s values and commitments of being:

1) A Distinctively Student-Centred University;

2) A Research-Led University with Regional, National and Global Impact;

3) A Unique Learning Experience that is Innovative, Flexible and Responsive;

4) An Expanding International Reach and Reputation;

5) A Leading Advocate and Champion for the Greater Western Sydney Region and its People;

6) A Dynamic and Innovative Culture that Secures Success.

Western Sydney University offers a diverse range of postgraduate programs internally and externally and provides professional training to both Australian and international students.

Research area

Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) causes a decline in cognitive abilities, and is conceptualised as a transitional stage between healthy ageing and dementia.  It is estimated that up to 35 % of Australians aged 70 years and older have MCI, and 15 % of those individuals will go on to develop dementia within a year. 

Dementia is now the leading cause of disability and the second leading cause of death in Australians aged 65 years and older.  There is currently no cure for dementia, and no way to stop the disease’s progression.  Although people with MCI have a significantly increased risk of dementia, it is difficult to determine which individuals are most at risk, and currently, this is usually ascertained from individuals’ symptom profiles using tests of neurocognitive function.  However, cognitive test performance does not necessarily have a simple relationship with extent of neuropathology or the risk of future cognitive decline.  Recent evidence suggests that early intervention may improve prognosis for people with MCI by delaying deterioration with prevention-based strategies.  Novel and sensitive biomarkers are urgently needed to determine which individuals with MCI are most at risk so that appropriate prevention strategies can be implemented.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology has improved to the rate where we can isolate neural circuits at a remarkable level of detail.  This PhD project will focus on the use of MRI to measure neural network integrity (NNI) as a biomarker for MCI.  NNI will be used as a tool to differentiate individuals with MCI from people with Alzheimer’s disease and healthy age-matched controls to provide a more accurate and sensitive diagnostic tool for people with the early signs of dementia. 

The PhD candidate will develop unique skills in the quantification and analysis of NNI data under the guidance of Prof Stuart Grieve.  The student will be part of a diverse team of psychologists and physiologists, gain hands-on experience working with people who have MCI and Alzheimer’s disease, and become proficient with a range of physiological data collection methods.

The Role

There is an opportunity for a highly motivated PhD candidate to join the HEADBOX Laboratory team in the NICM Clinical Lab led by Dr Genevieve Steiner. The position will interact with Professor Stuart Grieve at the University of Sydney and various project collaborators in Australia and international collaborators in the United Kingdom.

The Person

Applicants will have a First Class Honours degree or equivalent and should be eligible for a Research Training Program (RTP) grant or equivalent.  Basic expertise and experience is required in one or more of the following areas: anatomy and physiology, neuroscience, biological psychology, computer science, mathematics, and/or physics.  Previous experience in the analysis of MRI or Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) data would provide candidates with a distinct advantage.

Applicants must fulfil the PhD admission criteria for Western Sydney University, including English language requirements, and demonstrate excellent capacity and potential for research.  Entry requirements can be found at:

Strong academic performance demonstrated through publication output in peer reviewed international journals is highly desirable.


Appointment to the position is contingent upon receipt of an RTP scholarship through one of Western Sydney University’s scholarship rounds: or an NHMRC Postgraduate Scholarship through the national rounds:

For further information on RTP scholarships please refer to the national website:


Further information regarding the project can be obtained by contacting Dr Genevieve Steiner (

All applicants must supply the following documents: Cover letter, Academic Records (indicating GPA scores/grades, and grading scale details) and a Resume/CV.

Application closing date:

6 September, 2017 11:55pm AEST.

Please Note: Should this listing mention details of an available scholarship, it is your responsibility to confirm the specifics with the university / institute prior to applyiing. Terms and conditions are in some cases subject to change and are not always reflected immediately within listings.

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Further Information / Application Enquiries

Dr Genevieve Steiner