Study As
Full Time

Principal Supervisor
Professor Janna Morrison

Main Campus
City West

Applications Close
31 May 2024

Study Level
PhD or Master of Research

Applications Open To
Domestic Candidate

Tuition Fees:

All domestic students are eligible for a fee waiver. Find out more about fees and conditions.

Project Stipend:
$32,500 p.a. (2024 rates) available to domestic applicants only

About this project

Help diminish the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth

If you are ready to build your career in biology and motivated to make significant strides in preventing miscarriage and stillbirths, the University of South Australia – Australia’s University of Enterprise – is offering a hands-on project-based PhD with real-world impact within Health and Biomedical Innovation (HBI). 

Rates of miscarriage and stillbirth are higher for male than female fetuses. This is evident not only from human population data, but also from other mammalian species, such as those used for agricultural purposes. Indeed, miscarriage and stillbirth have a significant economic burden for both the agricultural and medical industries.  

A major contributor to miscarriage and stillbirth is reduced fetal growth that is often the result of poor placental function. It’s possible that aspects of the placental-specific androgen signalling axis are potential regulators of male fetal growth outcomes, whereas alternative pathways are prioritised in female placentae to ensure survival in a similar intrauterine environment. 

Our project will test the hypothesis that increased activity of the androgen signalling axis in gestation maximises male birthweight and therefore survival, leading to reproductive success in adulthood. However, under lengthy or significant periods of reduced oxygen and/or glucose in gestation, this androgen-driven adaptation will be dysregulated in males that have reduced growth.

You will join the worldclass HBI and become part of a rich cohort of early and specialist researchers. You will have access to a well-equipped laboratory (realtime PCR, Western blotting, LC-MS/MS, histology) and will be trained by a team of experts in each of these procedures.

This project will give you unique access to SAHMRI’s Preclinical Imaging and Research laboratories where the animal studies will be performed. No other facility in Australia allows access to surgical theatres, long term animal housing, CT and MRI facilities. You will also have access to an extensive BioBank of fixed and frozen tissue with extensive clinical records and in vivo physiological data to support your studies.

You will be supported by an international network of scientists and clinicians with expertise that span many facets of fetal physiology. 

What you’ll do

In this project-based research degree, you will be involved in computer, lab and animal work. You’ll participate in fetal surgery, postoperative care, blood pressure studies and tissue collection. Data will be analysed in Excel and Prism. You will have the opportunity to use real-time PRC and Western blotting to study gene and protein expression in the placenta as well as immunohistochemistry. 

During the project, you will have the unique opportunity of working with human placenta samples while also gaining experience with a large animal model of pregnancy, which includes participating in foetal surgery, postoperative care, fetal cardiac MRI and tissue collection. 

You will participate in discussions about our research with national and international collaborators and, if appropriate, have the opportunity to travel to collaborator laboratories in Australia or overseas. There will be opportunities to attend conferences to present your work (virtual and/or face to face locally, nationally and internationally). 

Upon completion of your studies, you will have gained a range of transferable skills, including study design, organisation of long-term projects, working productively independently and in a team environment, communicating effectively with scientists from a range of disciplines (fetal physiology, pharmacology, pharmaceutical sciences, endocrinology), performing experimental work, and writing for science.

Where you’ll be based

You will be based within the Health and Biomedical Innovation concentration. We study the complex workings of the body and its interaction with environment. Our goal is to address fundamental questions about how the body and its environment work and to integrate this knowledge to increase our understanding of the human body as a whole, in both health and disease. This approach involves measuring changes in the body with disease and the impact of interventions and allows us to discover biomedical pathways to improve health while providing the foundational knowledge required for translation into clinical practice. We achieve this through initiating, and being sought for engagement with, strong partnerships with other national and international thought leaders in academia, clinical practice, industry, government and our community. 

Our work is disseminated through production of high-quality publications, engagement with end-users and the community at conferences and with public presentations. Our fundamental approach to science provides a strong basis for student engagement across all health science programs, integrating our research into our teaching practices to develop industry ready graduates and engage them in our research endeavours.

Our research pillars represent a new direction in health and chronic disease research, focusing on strong engagement with government, industry, regulatory bodies, policy-makers and the community.

Supervisory team

Financial Support

This project is funded for reasonable research expenses. Additionally, a living allowance scholarship of $32,500 per annum is available to Australian and New Zealand citizens, and permanent residents of Australia, including permanent humanitarian visa holders.  Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander applicants will be eligible to receive an increased stipend rate of $50,291 per annum (2024 rate maximum RTP rate). A fee-offset or waiver for the standard term of the program is also included.  For full terms and benefits of the scholarship please refer to our scholarship information. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Eligibility and Selection

This project is open to applications from Australian or New Zealand citizens, and Australian permanent residents or permanent humanitarian visa holders. International applicants are not invited to apply at this time.

Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria for entrance into a Master of Research or PhD. 

All applications that meet the eligibility and selection criteria will be considered for this project. A merit selection process will be used to determine the successful candidate. 

The successful applicant is expected to study full-time and to be based at our City West campus in the heart of Adelaide. 

Essential Dates 

Applicants are expected to start in a timely fashion upon receipt of an offer. Extended deferral periods are not available. Applications close on Friday, 31 May, 2024.

How to apply:

Applications must be lodged online, please note UniSA does not accept applications via email.

For further support see our step-by-step guide on how to apply , or contact the Graduate Research team on +61 8 8302 5880, option 1 or email us at You will receive a response within one working day.

IMPORTANT: This site is optimised for the latest versions of Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox and Chrome. Note that earlier versions of any browsers mentioned are supported, but likely to demonstrate slower response times.

By choosing to continue, you agree to the privacy policy. Show Privacy Policy

Research and industry

Other projects you may be interested in

Latest news


If you wish to develop your own project please review our guidelines and contact the Graduate Research Admissions team if you have any questions. 

Contact us