Cardiovascular health in young people

Prevalence, determinants, and consequences of ideal cardiovascular health in children and adolescents

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

10 October 2022

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

About the research project

Background.

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide. Prevention of heart disease is a public health priority and identifying individuals at increased risk before symptoms develop is important for minimising disease progression. Although overt cardiovascular disease (CVD) may not appear until later in life, autopsy studies have shown fatty streaks and fibrous plaques in the aorta and coronary arteries of adolescents. This suggests that atherosclerosis (the pathological basis of CVD) originates in early life. Observational data shows that poor health-related behaviours in childhood are major contributors to outcomes later in life. Thus, childhood represents an opportune time to establish life-long health promoting habits that can prevent the onset of risk factors and future CVD. In this context, primordial prevention (the prevention of risk factor onset) early in life is of critical importance and has recently been adopted by the American Heart Association (AHA) as an essential component of their strategy to reduce the global burden of morbidity and mortality related to CVD. The AHA advocates assessing CVH as a whole (i.e. ideal diet, smoking, physical activity, body mass index [BMI], BP, glucose and cholesterol levels). However, research concerning the prevalence of CVH in Australian children is scarce, so too is data on the determinants of ideal CVH, including the impact of environmental exposures, and how this relates to outcomes later in life.

The objective of this project is to:

  1. Determine the prevalence and key determinants of ideal cardiovascular health in Australian children
  2. Determine the prevalence and key determinants of ideal cardiovascular health in European children
  3. Determine the relationship between ideal CVH and cardiometabolic health and neurodevelopment later in life
  4. Determine the impact of environmental exposures on CVH at different stages across the life course

Basic methodology.

This project will entirely make use of existing data.

Objective 1 will be addressed by undertaking an individual meta-analysis of Australian cohort studies

Objective 2 and 3 will be addressed using data from the European Lifecycle study. The Lifecycle Network is a European wide network of cohort studies started in early life and includes data related to CVH in n>55,000 mothers and children.

Objective 4 will be addressed using data from the European Longitools project. The Longitools consortium includes life course data in >11 million European individuals from 24 different cohort studies. The consortium aims to understand how the environment and lifestyle interact with biology and genetics and results in particular diseases, such as CVD.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Rachel Climie

Funding

Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Eligibility

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Rachel Climie to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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