Employment Opportunities

PhD and Post-doctoral scholarships are currently available to study therapeutic use of Oxytocin in Eating Disorders. See details below:

HOW EFFECTIVE IS OXYTOCIN IN ENHANCING TREATMENT FOR ANOREXIA NERVOSA?

Synopsis

Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a major social and public health problem with the highest mortality and treatment costs of any psychiatric disorder. With an average duration of 7 years and full recovery rates of only 50%, many people suffer the illness chronically and pose a heavy burden on their carers and the health system.  Anorexia usually strikes in adolescence derailing the development of the young person and robbing them of their most important and productive years.

Effective nutritional rehabilitation programs exist but are costly and protracted, and patients struggle to engage and persevere with treatment. There is an urgent need for a safe, inexpensive, easily administered treatment to enhance the efficacy of nutritional rehabilitation programs and patients’ capacity to comply with these.

The purpose of this study is to investigate a novel pharmacotherapy, oxytocin nasal spray, and its effects on patients with AN participating in a nutritional rehabilitation program. Oxytocin (OT) has shown promise in treating some forms of mental illness through its prosocial and anxiolytic effects. For example, in autism it has been demonstrated to increase indicators of empathy and social skills.

Pilot studies conducted by our group suggest therapeutic potential for oxytocin nasal spray in further reducing eating concern, an integral part of the core psychopathology of AN. Reduction of fear and anxiety around food and eating should permit more effective weight restoration and better engagement in the psychological aspects of treatment with improved outcomes.

The main purpose of this project is to investigate the efficacy of intra-nasal oxytocin (IN-OT) as a single dose and in repeated dosage as an adjunct to nutritional rehabilitation in anorexia nervosa. We will compare a group of patients receiving IN_OT versus a group receiving placebo while they are undergoing an inpatient refeeding program.

In addition we want to compare a single dose of IN-OT with a single dose of placebo on anxiety associated with a highly feared food, such as chocolate.

It is possible that different doses of IN-OT produce different effects on the symptoms of illness, hence this part of the project will compare a higher dose of IN-OT versus a standard dose.

We specifically want to determine the effects of IN-OT on weight gain, food-related anxiety, eating behaviour, core psychopathology eating concern, weight concern, shape concern and eating restraint, motivation to change and cognitive rigidity additional to the effect of weight gain over 28 days then to assess these effects at one, six months and 12 months along with changes in body mass index (BMI), stage of AN, clinical outcome and health service utilisation.

This project is part of a larger, ongoing trial that has been funded by a highly competitive grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia.

Research location

Camperdown – Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders

Supervisors

Professor Janice Russell, Dr Sarah Maguire, Professor Glenn Hunt, Professor Iain McGregor, Professor Ian Caterson, A/Professor Amanda Salis

 

This project is part of a larger, ongoing trial that has been funded by a highly competitive grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia.

Program Type: PHD

Selection Criteria

  • An undergraduate degree in science, psychology, medicine or other health discipline (e.g. exercise physiology, nutrition & dietetics, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, psychology, biochemistry, physiology etc.)
  • First class honours or equivalent (for PhD candidates)
  • Demonstrated Eligibility for APA scholarship
  • An excellent undergraduate academic record (for Masters and PhD candidates)
  • Strong writing skills
  • Critical thinking ability
  • A strong commitment to health and medical research in the field of nutrition, eating disorders, treatment, and interventions for eating disorders
  • Exceptional communication skills that will enable you to engender support from participants volunteering for this randomised controlled trial and publish consistently throughout your tenure
  • Ability to work productively both within a team environment as well as independently as required
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Reliability and punctuality

Benefits to the successful candidate

  • As part of The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders, you will be part of an internationally recognized multidisciplinary research environment dedicated to reducing obesity and associated complications
  • PhD candidates will be mentored for submission of a competitive application for an Australian Postgraduate Award or a University Postgraduate Award (APA/UPA, for domestic students) or an equivalent award for international students. Further details. Post-doctoral positions will be mentored to produce competitive applications for fellowships.
  • Top up scholarship for 3 years (in addition to APA)
  • You will receive mentoring to help you develop your career, with individual and group training on scientific writing, conference presentation skills etc
  • You will have opportunities to present your research findings at local, national and potentially also at an international conference
  • You will have opportunities to publish your research findings in peer-reviewed journals of high standing

For more information and application click here

Program Type: Post Doctoral position, 1 year

Selection criteria

  • A recent PhD degree in science, medicine, psychology, or other health discipline (e.g. exercise physiology, nutrition & dietetics, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, psychology, biochemistry, physiology etc.)
  • Applicant must address in their application a competitive track record of publications and other research outputs that would meet eligibility to be competitive in an application for a post-doctoral fellowship, such as an NHMRC early career fellowship or Endocrine Society Early Career Fellowship or other suitable post-doctoral fellowship. 
  • An excellent academic record 
  • Very strong manuscript writing skills
  • Critical thinking ability
  • Preferably APA scholarship for PhD candidature
  • A strong commitment to health and medical research in the field of nutrition, eating disorders, treatment, and interventions for eating disorders
  • Exceptional communication skills, especially writing skills, that will enable you to engender support from participants volunteering for this randomised controlled trial and publish consistently throughout your tenure
  • Ability to work productively both within a team environment as well as independently as required
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Reliability and punctuality

 

Benefits to the successful candidate

  • As part of The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders, you will be part of an internationally recognized multidisciplinary research environment dedicated to reducing obesity and associated complications
  • PhD candidates will be mentored for submission of a competitive application for an Australian Postgraduate Award or a University Postgraduate Award (APA/UPA, for domestic students) or an equivalent award for international students. Further details. Post-doctoral positions will be mentored to produce competitive applications for fellowships.
  • Fully paid 1 year post-doctoral position with the possibility of extension for employees who are successful on competitive funding or productive in publishing
  • You will receive mentoring to help you develop your career, with individual and group training on scientific writing, conference presentation skills etc
  • You will have opportunities to present your research findings at local, national and potentially also at an international conference
  • You will have opportunities to publish your research findings in peer-reviewed journals of high standing

 

For further information

Please contact sarah.maguire@email.cs.nsw.gov.au

To apply

Please e-mail a cover letter addressing the above selection criteria, a copy of your CV as well as your academic transcript(s) to sarah.maguire@email.cs.nsw.gov.au. Incomplete applications will not be considered.