Higher Degree Research Opportunities

Select a research stream below to view the current opportunities and projects on offer at NICM Health Research Institute.

To register your interest in a project, please contact the lead supervisor. For information about applying for higher degree research and scholarships, please contact the Graduate Research School.(opens in a new window)


Healthy Women

The women's health program at NICM HRI covers menstrual health of young women, pregnancy, infertility, menopause and gynaecological disorders.

Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/s

Acupuncture for weight loss in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): a systematic review and qualitative study

  1. Conduct a systematic review on acupuncture for weight loss in PCOS, including search of Chinese databases.
  2. Coduct focus groups/interviews of health professionals involved in care of PCOS patients to explore their views on acupuncture as an adjunct to weight loss in PCOS will also be undertaken.

Professor Caroline Smith
caroline.smith@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

The role of acupuncture with achieving weight loss prior to gynaecology surgery

  1. Undertake a feasibility randomised controlled trial of acupuncture compared with a wait list control.

Professor Caroline Smith
caroline.smith@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Development of a treatment protocol for pre birth treatment

  1. Undertake focus groups with pregnant women to explore their views towards pre-birth acupuncture.
  2. Develop acupuncture treatment protocols for cervical ripening for women.

Professor Caroline Smith
caroline.smith@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Mike Armour
mike.armour@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Debra Betts
d.betts@westernsydney.edu.au

Complementary therapies to assist with anxiety disorders in young women

  1. Undertake a literature review of complementary medicine modalities used to assist with managing anxiety.
  2. Examine women's interest to participate in a clinical study.

Professor Caroline Smith
caroline.smith@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Provision of health information to women on complementary medicine

  1. Examine health literacy and decision making regarding women's health.

Professor Caroline Smith
caroline.smith@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Mike Armour
mike.armour@westernsydney.edu.au

Developing, implementing and evaluating a model of care for integrative women's health in an academic clinic

  1. Conduct a systematic review.
  2. Conduct qualitative research on how to integrate well-evidenced complementary therapies into routine care for female reproductive health (pregnancy and birth/fertility/gynaecology).

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Developing, implementing and evaluating a model of care for integrative women's health in an academic clinic

  1. Conduct a systematic review.
  2. Undertake qualitative research on how to integrate well-evidenced complementary therapies into routine care for female reproductive health (pregnancy and birth/fertility/gynaecology).

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Development of an integrative healthy women program in the areas of menopause, menstrual disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), weight, fertility, pregnancy

  1. Develop and evaluate a clinic program offering evidence-based complementary and integrative therapies in the areas of menopause/menstrual disorders/PCOS/weight/fertility and pregnancy.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Acupuncture for pelvic pain in pregnancy: variety of projects including group acupuncture programs

  1. Develop and evaluate a program offering complementary and integrative therapies (including acupuncture) for pelvic pain in pregnancy, in collaboration with Westmead Hospital's Women’s and Newborn Clinic.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Mind-body therapies for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

  1. Evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness of mind body therapies such as yoga, tai chi and mindfulness meditation for PCOS.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Mindfulness for weight gain prevention in pregnancy

  1. Develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a mindfulness program for weight gain prevention in pregnancy and between pregnancies.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Collaborative models of integrative healthcare in pregnancy (with midwifery)

  1. Explore, implement and evaluate collaborative models of integrative healthcare in pregnancy with midwifery and obstetric disciplines.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Healthy Minds

The neurological and mental health program at NICM HRI focuses on the prevention and treatment of dementia and neurocognitive decline and improvement of mental health in response to integrative medicine treatment.

Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/s

Regulation of tight junction proteins claudin and occludin by herbal medicine in endothelial cells

  1. Assess the action of herbal medicine on the expression of tight junction protein critical to the blood brain barrier function, using in vitro models.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Nady Braidy

Dr Ying Xu

Electrophysiological correlates of decision-making strategies in older adults

  1. Investigate differences in the brain function that underpins decision-making strategies in young and older adults.

Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner
g.steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Phoebe Bailey
p.bailey@westernsydney.edu.au

Electrophysiological biomarkers of early-stage Alzheimer's disease

  1. Triangulate data from a range of sources to identify novel, inexpensive, yet widely available biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.

Applicants with a background in neuroscience, anatomy and physiology, medical science, or computer science would have a distinct advantage.

Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner
g.steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

Using plasma concentrations of a standardised multi-herb formula to assess trial medication compliance

  1. Assess plasma concentrations of a multi-herb formula in samples collected from people with mild cognitive impairment.

Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner
g.steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Mitchell Low
mitchell.low@westernsydney.edu.au

A multimodal mind-body exercise program for people living with dementia and their carers: The tai chi challenge

  1. In an Australian-first study, assess the feasibility and efficacy of a tai chi program designed specifically for people with dementia and their carers.

Associate Professor Genevieve Steiner
g.steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Alan Bensoussan
a.bensoussan@westernsydney.edu.au

Mind-body therapies for mental health

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of a range of mind-body therapies (including yoga, mindfulness and tai chi) for reducing symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and psychological distress, and improving well-being.

Dr Michael de Manincor
m.demanincor@westernsydney.edu.au

Mind-body therapies for stress reduction and improved mental health and well-being of health care providers

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of a range of mind-body therapies (including yoga, mindfulness and tai chi) for reducing stress and improving mental health and well-being of healthcare providers.

Dr Michael de Manincor
m.demanincor@westernsydney.edu.au

Mind-body therapies for stress reduction and improved mental health and well-being of medical students

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of a range of mind-body therapies (including yoga, mindfulness and tai chi) for reducing stress and improving mental health and well-being of medical students.

Dr Michael de Manincor
m.demanincor@westernsydney.edu.au

Mind-body therapies for stress reduction and improved mental health and well-being of general medical practitioners (GPs)

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of a range of mind-body therapies (including yoga, mindfulness and tai chi) for reducing stress and improving mental health and well-being of GPs.

Dr Michael de Manincor
m.demanincor@westernsydney.edu.au

Yoga-based breathing techniques for reduction of stress and anxiety

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of yoga-based breathing techniques for reduction of stress and anxiety.

Dr Michael de Manincor
m.demanincor@westernsydney.edu.au

Integrative medicine programme for men’s mental health

  1. Develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an integrative medicine program for men living with mental health conditions including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.

Dr Michael de Manincor
m.demanincor@westernsydney.edu.au

Healthy Lives Through The Cancer Journey

The cancer care program at NICM HRI focuses on understanding how integrative medicine may assist with cancer management and side effects of conventional cancer treatment.

Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/s

Anticancer actions of Chinese herbal medicines

  1. Investigate the anticancer actions of Chinese herbal medicines in vitro and in vivo.

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Henry Liang
h.liang@westernsydney.edu.au

Associate Professor Xiaoshu Zhu
x.zhu@westernsydney.edu.au

Weight after breast cancer

  1. Review the effectiveness of complementary and lifestyle medicine for managing weight after breast cancer
  2. Conduct qualitative research with consumers to determine research priorities and design in this area
  3. Conduct interventional and mechanistic research to identify effective interventions for weight after breast cancer (e.g. acupuncture, mind body therapies, shared medical appointments).

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Chinese herbal medicine for hot flushes in breast cancer survivors: A randomised, placebo-controlled, cross-over, multi-central clinical trial

  1. Explore evidence of effectiveness and safety in the area.

Associate Professor Xiaoshu Zhu
x.zhu@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Alan Bensoussan
a.bensoussan@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Paul de Souza
p.desouza@westernsydney.edu.au

Chinese herbal medicine for chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy: A randomised, placebo-controlled, multi-central clinical trial

  1. Explores evidence of effectiveness and safety in the area.

Associate Professor Xiaoshu Zhu
x.zhu@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Alan Bensoussan
a.bensoussan@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Caroline Smith
caroline.smith@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Paul de Souza
p.desouza@westernsydney.edu.au

Healthy Hearts

The cardiovascular and metabolic health program at NICM HRI focuses on understanding how integrative medicine can assist with the prevention and treatment of various cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/s

Effects of prebiotics on gut microbiota in metabolic syndrome

  1. Assess the effects of prebiotics on gut microbiota and metabolic profiles in a high fat diet-induced metabolic syndrome model in rats.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Srinivas Nammi
s.nammi@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Mohammad Tariq
m.tariq@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Deep Bhuyan
d.bhuyan@westernsydney.edu.au

Neuroprotective and angiogenic effects of herbal medicine in zebrafish

  1. Assess the neuroprotective and angiogenic effects of herbal medicine and its key bioactive components using the zebrafish model.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

A pilot randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial to evaluate the effects of Nao Xin Qing (NXQ) for ischemic stroke

  1. Evaluate the clinical effectiveness and safety of NXQ in patients with ischemic stroke during the rehabilitation period.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Angelo Sabag
a.sabag@westernsydney.edu.au

In vitro activity of a standardise herbal formula Nao Xin Qing (NXQ) for the treatment of stroke

  1. Assess the antioxidant activity and effect on endothelial dysfunction of the components of the standardised NXQ herbal extract.
  2. Determine the synergistic or additive nature of these components.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Angelo Sabag
a.sabag@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Diana Karamacoska
d.karamacoska@westernsydney.edu.au

Effectiveness and safety of a standardised herbal formulation on diabetic kidney disease

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness and safety of a standardised herbal formula in patient with diabetic nephropathy.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Alan Bensoussan
a.bensoussan@westernsydney.edu.au

Leaf extract versus olive oil supplementation on biomarkers associated with cardiometabolic risk and glycaemic control and serum antioxidant levels

  1. Investigate the effect of Olive leaf extract supplementation versus Olive oil on metabolic risk factors, insulin growth factors, inflammatory markers, and various extracellular antioxidant proteins.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Alan Bensoussan
a.bensoussan@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Diana Karamacoska
d.karamacoska@westernsydney.edu.au

Association between vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids with cognition assessed by a computerised battery

  1. Determine the association between vitamin D and omega-3 status and cognition as assessed by a computerised battery, electroencephalogram (EEG) testing and a validated food frequency questionnaire.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Genevieve Steiner
g.steiner@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Anjalee Amarasekera
a.amarasekera@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Diana Karamacoska
d.karamacoska@westernsydney.edu.au

Nutrient supplementation and complementary medicine use in people with type 2 diabetes

  1. Assess the use of nutritional supplements and complementary medicine practices by people living with type 2 diabetes.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Angelo Sabag
a.sabag@westernsydney.edu.au

Discovery of new therapeutic agents from natural products and their derivatives

  1. Investigate the synthesis and bioactivity of analogs of active natural compounds for various medical applications.

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Feng Li
feng.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Associate Professor Mourad Tayebi
m.tayebi@westernsydney.edu.au

Molecular mechisms of insulin resistance

  1. Investigate the molecular mechanisms of insulin resistance, using new and advanced techniques.

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Associate Professor Mourad Tayebi
m.tayebi@westernsydney.edu.au

Exercise and ageing health

  1. Investigate the effects of individualised exercise programs on ageing health, involving smart devices and big data analysis.

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Synergy of food ingredients and herbal medicines

  1. Investigate the mechanisms of synergy of selected food ingredients and herbal medicines.

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Phoebe Zhou
p.zhou@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Mitchell Low
mitchell.low@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Deep Bhuyan
d.bhuyan@westernsydney.edu.au

Bioactivity of Australian propolis

  1. Investigate the chemical property and bioactivity of Australian propolis.

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr George Li
g.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Deep Bhuyan
d.bhuyan@westernsydney.edu.au

Shared medical appoinments (SMAs) and mindfullness for type 2 diabetes

  1. Conduct a systematic review on mindfullness and other mind body therapies for type 2 diabetes.
  2. Conduct a randomised controlled trial on SMAs and mindfullness for type 2 diabetes.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Complementary therapies for weight management

  1. Conduct a systematic review on complementary therapies for weight management (acupuncture/mind body/nutraceuticals).
  2. Conduct a qualitative study (e.g. randomised controlled trials, mechanistic work) exploring the views of people with obesity (PwO) on complemetnary therapies for weight management.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Mind body therapies for managing cardiovascular risk factors (weight, diabetes, hypertension)

  1. Develop and evaluate the effectiveness of a mind body therapies program for managing cardiovascular risk factors including overweight/obesity, diabetes, and hypertension

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Development of a healthy hearts program incorporating complementary/integrative therapies and preventive/lifestyle

  1. Develop and evaluate a program incorporating complementary/integrative therapies and preventive/lifestyle interventions for managing metabolic and cardiovascular conditions which may include diabetes and overweight/obesity

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Effects and mechanism of actions of herbal medicines in vascular reactivity

  1. Investigate the vascular effects of Chinese herbal medicines for the treatment of hypertension, stroke and/or diabetes-related vascular complications using both ex vivo and in vivo models.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Effects and mechanism of action of natural products in vascular calcification

  1. Examine the effects of natural products for the management of vascular calcification, a major characteristic of atherosclerosis, assessed in vascular calcification in vitro and in vivo models.

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Mitchell Low
mitchell.low@westernsydney.edu.au

Role of autophagy in atherosclerosis

  1. Elucidate the role of autophagy in the development and progression of atherosclerosis, using cellular and rodent based models, as well as state-of-the-art gene editing technique.

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Mitchell Low
mitchell.low@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Multi-omics study of the effects of herbal medicine in zebrafish model of chronic ischemia

  1. Evaluate the neuro- and cardio- protective effects of herbal medicine using 'omics' approach.
    s.seto@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Effects and mechanism of actions of herbal medicines in neurovascular unit (NVU)

  1. Develop novel herbal formula for the treatment of cerebrovascular diseases, such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia using a co-culture model of neurovascular unit.
    s.seto@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Dennis Chang
d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Policy and Evidence Translation

The integrative medicine policy and evidence translation at NICM HRI focuses on working with government to build appropriate policy frameworks and improving integrative healthcare practice by translating high-quality research into relevant guidelines and practice protocols.
Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/s

Evaluation of the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) model of care: Patient Reported Outcome Measures

  1. Evaluate the impact of the WSIH model of care on health outcomes of patients using a patient registry approach.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Evaluation of the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) model of care: Stakeholder perspectives

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the WSIH model of care from a stakeholder perspective.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) patient engagement strategies

  1. Develop and evaluate the effect of patient engagement strategies on health outcomes and patient experience at WSIH.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Evaluation of patient-centredness in the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH)

  1. Evaluate the extent to which the WSIH model of care provides patient-centred care and how this impacts on other outcomes such as health outcomes and patient experience.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Evaluation of teamwork in the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) model of care

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of teamwork interventions on the extent to which WSIH staff are providing team-based and collaborative care, and the impact on patient health outcomes and experience.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of integrative therapies in the NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH)

  1. Evaluate the cost effectiveness of the WSIH model of care.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Implementing active surveillance of adverse events from natural supplements / Chinese herbal medicine (collaboration with SONAR)

  1. Implement and evaluate the effectiveness of an active surveillance program that monitors for adverse events from Chinese herbal medicine.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Evaluation of NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH) model of care and safety

  1. Evaluate the extent to which the WSIH model of care is providing safe care.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Improvement of health literacy

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate programs aimed at increasing health literacy amongst patients attending NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH). Health literacy may be specific to a particular health condition or patient group or may be general.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Integrative medicine for the underserved

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate integrative medicine programs that are offered to underserved populations.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Evidence-based practice: Creating and Using evidence summaries in integrative healthcare

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate the use of evidence summaries in integrative healthcare.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Shared medical appointments (SMAs) and complementary therapies: scoping and program development

  1. Develop a program of SMAs combined with group complementary therapies for various health conditions.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

The patient experience at NICM Health Research Institute Western Sydney Integrative Health (WSIH): Who comes, who stays, who goes and why?

  1. Evaluate the patient experience at WSIH.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Other emerging areas of complementary medicine research

NICM HRI is also involved with a number of other areas of research including the identification of bioactive compounds found in natural products and complementary medicine approaches to addressing other common and problematic medical conditions. As with all other concentrations of research, these projects can have a focus of laboratory based work, clinical research, increasing an understanding of complementary medicine use or translating research into policy and practice.
Project TitleAim/sSupervisor/s

Anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and neuromodulatory effects of Australian bush medicines

  1. Assess a range of Australian bush medicines and their potential to treat inflammatory-driven illnesses and investigate biomolecular mechanisms and idetifying the chemistry responsible for their attributed therapeutic effects.

Professor Gerald Muench
g.muench@westernsydney.edu.au

Discovery of new therapeutic agents from Danshen

  1. Assess the pharmacological actions of bioactive compounds of Danshen and their derivatives.

Professor Chun Guang Li
c.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Dr Feng Li
feng.li@westernsydney.edu.au

Professor Dennis Chang d.chang@westernsydney.edu.au

Shared medical appointment (SMAs) model of care for chronic pain

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a shared medical appointment model of care incorporating complementary therapies for chronic pain conditions.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au

Complementary and integrative therapies for chronic pain amongst Veterans

  1. Develop, implement and evaluate a program incorporating complementary and integrative therapies for chronic pain amongst Veterans.

Dr Carolyn Ee
c.ee@westernsydney.edu.au