We offer our PhD students a program of study that includes world-class research training, as well as opportunities to develop diverse skills that will benefit their future career. Students will be part of a diverse research team, and have access to opportunities across Turning Point, Monash Addiction Research Centre (MARC) and Monash University.

Learn more about the novel projects currently available for student research.

The Health4Her Project

Project type: PhD Scholarship

Supervisors: Dr Jasmin Grigg

Area: Alcohol brief intervention, breast screening

Research group: Clinical & Social Research (CSR), Turning Point (Richmond) and Eastern Health Clinical School (Monash University)

Alcohol is a major modifiable risk factor for female breast cancer; yet, awareness of this risk remains surprisingly low, and is not systematically addressed in healthcare settings. The Health4Her project, a collaboration between Turning Point, Monash University, Eastern Health, BreastScreen Victoria, VicHealth, Lifepool, and Shades of Pink, is a world-first initiative targeting low awareness of the link between alcohol and breast cancer among women participating in population-based breast screening programs.

A PhD scholarship is being offered to conduct research as part of the Health4Her Project, supporting the implementation-effectiveness trial, as well as the opportunity to explore a range of issues around women’s health and alcohol consumption, including alcohol literacy, attitudes, social practices, health promotion, and behaviour change.

The project may include qualitative and quantitative research methods, the utilisation of implementation research frameworks, and consumer and stakeholder participation approaches.

Developing a national alcohol risk index: preventing future alcohol-related harms

Project type: PhD Scholarship

Supervisors: Dr Rowan Ogeil and Dr Bosco Rowland

Area: Alcohol, burden of disease, epidemiology, health surveillance data

Research group: National Addiction and Mental Health Surveillance Unit (NAMHSU), Turning Point (Richmond) and Eastern Health Clinical School (Monash University)

Alcohol consumption is the fifth highest contributor to burden of disease in Australia and a major avoidable risk factor for disease and injury. Despite stable per-capita consumption over the past two decades, 3-in-4 Australians regularly drink alcohol, with 1-in-4 adults exceeding the NHMRC’s single occasion risky drinking guidelines at least monthly.

Hence, there is a need at the population level to: monitor harms associated with alcohol; identify locations and sociodemographic groups most at risk; understand the types of harm caused; work with stakeholders to contextualise these harms. This will be achieved through identifying times, places, situations, and development stages that elevate alcohol risks. This work will result in the development and validation of tools or instruments that policy makers and governments can use to reduce alcohol harms and promote the health of everyday Australians.

Trauma & Addiction

Project type: PhD Scholarship

Supervisors: A/Prof Shalini Arunogiri

Area: Trauma, addiction, integrated treatment, clinical trials

Research group: Clinical & Social Research (CSR), Turning Point (Richmond) and Eastern Health Clinical School (Monash University)

Trauma and addiction frequently co-occur. About 1 in 2 people in addiction treatment settings have symptoms of PTSD, yet integrated treatment is not routinely available. This PhD program is aimed at translational approaches to integrated treatment for PTSD and addiction, with an exciting opportunity to be involved in both frontline clinics and desktop secondary analyses of existing datasets. The program will focus on transdiagnostic correlates of co-occurring disorders, including neurobiological, neuropsychological and neurophysiological underpinnings of presenting problems.

The program is supported by projects across three NHMRC and MRFF grants, including a NHMRC Investigator Fellowship (Arunogiri), enabling the student to work across a number of national multisite clinical trials, including a study of Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy (PAT) with MDMA assisted psychotherapy for PTSD and alcohol use disorder.

This PhD program would suit applicants from a psychology, psychiatry or related mental health background.

Understanding sleep disturbance in clients seeking treatment for alcohol use disorder

Project type: PhD Scholarship

Supervisors: Prof Dan Lubman AM, Prof Vic Manning, A/Prof Shalini Arunogiri, Dr Rowan Ogeil

Area: Sleep disorder, alcohol use disorder, clinical trial

Research group: National Addiction and Mental Health Surveillance Unit (NAMHSU), Turning Point (Richmond) and Eastern Health Clinical School (Monash University)

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a leading cause of injury and chronic disease and mortality in Australia, and the leading cause of disability or death for those aged 15-49, the most economically productive sector of society. Despite advances in our understanding of the neurobiology of AUD, and in particular the role of the orexin system in the drive to seek and consume alcohol, the clinical treatment of AUD by psychosocial and/or pharmacological interventions has proven difficult. While treatment can lead to striking improvements in physical and mental health outcomes, often the results are poor particularly when comorbid conditions including sleep disturbances such as insomnia are present. This is problematic given that sleep disturbances are a prominent clinical problem in AUD, and are recognised as an important predictor of relapse. This PhD project will work on clinical trials and studies at Turning Point to investigate sleep disturbances in patients seeking treatment for AUD. The project will involve collection and analysis of both subjective and objective measures of sleep with outcomes of this work helping to delineate the role and impact that comorbid sleep disturbances have on the course and progression of recovery from AUD.

This PhD program would suit applicants with a background in psychology, psychiatry or sleep medicine.

Examining neurocognitive interventions and mechanisms in the treatment of alcohol use disorders

PhD Scholarship Opportunity

Project type: PhD Scholarship

Supervisors: Professor Victoria Manning

Area: Neurocognitive mechanisms, treatments & clinical trials

Research group: Clinical & Social Research (CSR), Turning Point (Richmond) and Eastern Health Clinical School (Monash University)

In recent years, there has been a growing appreciation of the role that subconscious “cognitive biases” play in addiction. This has led to the development of novel computerised interventions called cognitive bias modification” (CBM) that aim to alter these cognitive biases triggered by drug-related stimuli in the environment. Research suggests that one particular type of CBM is effective at treating alcohol use disorders, in certain treatment contexts, populations. Part of the mystery behind why and how CBM works in some contexts and not others, is that we don’t yet understand the neural, psychological, and behavioural mechanisms that underlie its efficacy.

This PhD scholarship is supported by two NHMRC funded studies and will fund a candidate to work as part of a multidisciplinary team in a program of research examining how cognitive biases vary across the spectrum of alcohol use disorder severity and how they are influenced by factors such as time of day, mood, and physical/social context. The candidate will receive training in, and use a range of psychophysiological, cognitive, behavioural, and psychological measurement techniques in both clinical trials and experimental laboratory-based studies. This program of research aims to both deepen our knowledge of the cognitive psychology of addiction at the theoretical level, and to broaden its practical application through improved CBM interventions that can be effective in a wider range of contexts, patients, and delivery platforms (including smartphone-apps).

The student will be co-supervised by A/Prof Kristian Rotaru at Monash Business Behavioural Laboratory (MBBL). MBBL offers a platform to conduct multimodal experiments utilising the latest technologies in eye tracking, skin conductance, electrocardiography (ECG), electroencephalography (EEG), transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), automated facial expression analysis, and virtual reality. The use of these technologies will provide the candidate with a unique opportunity to design and test novel interventions that will advance our understanding of cognitive biases and its modification.

This PhD program would suit applicants from a psychology, neuroscience or related mental health background.

Learn more about entry requirements and how to apply on the Scholarships and enrolment page, or email the Research Support team at [email protected].

For more information about projects available across Monash University, as well as supervisor details, please visit Supervisor Connect.