Exercise, Cognition and Healthy Ageing

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Exercise, Cognition and Healthy Ageing


We have a scholarship available to enrol an outstanding PhD student in the School of Health and Sports Sciences at the University of the Sunshine Coast in the field of healthy ageing.

The Project
Emerging evidence suggests that regions of the brain involved in learning and memory can respond to lifestyle modifications such as regular exercise even in older age, however the best type of exercise for brain health during ageing is yet to be determined. Importantly, understanding the biological basis for how physical exercise impacts the brain will be key in optimising exercise prescription for the prevention of cognitive decline. Our developing understanding of endocrine cross-talk between skeletal muscle and the brain leads us to consider the potential utility of progressive resistance training for maintaining brain health during ageing. This project will utilise novel blood-based, body composition and cognitive biomarkers to understand the role of muscle mass in maintaining brain health during ageing.

The Position
In examining the role of muscle mass in maintaining brain health during ageing, several physiological measures will be monitored over a period of 12 months, including body composition, blood biomarkers, muscle strength and cognitive performance. The successful applicant will be involved in participant recruitment, testing and training of older individuals in a clinical exercise intervention and will have the opportunity to develop a wide research skill set in exercise physiology, exercise biochemistry and applied neuroscience.

For more information contact Dr Mia Schaumbergmschaum1@usc.edu.au.

  • Domestic Applicant
  • Approved for admission to the USC PhD Program (if not a current student, the application for admission to the PhD program and the application for the scholarship can be submitted simultaneously)
  • Bachelor’s Degree with First Class Honours or equivalent previous study, relevant work experience, research publications, or other research experience
  • Not hold a PhD
  • Not have previously held a Commonwealth-funded postgraduate research scholarship unless it was terminated within six months of the current scholarship’s payments commencing
  • Not be the recipient of an equivalent award, scholarship, or salary, providing a benefit greater than 75 percent of the Research Training Program rate to undertake a HDR. Income unrelated to the course of study is not to be taken into account
  • Satisfactory progress must be maintained throughout the PhD program
Selection criteria
  • Minimum academic qualifications as outlined in the USC HDR Candidature – Procedures eligibility requirements for PhD program admission
  • Has an Honours or Research Masters degree in an area of allied health, for example Exercise Physiology, Exercise and Sports Science, Physiotherapy, Biomedical Science, or Nursing (or equivalent) or will have by mid-2019
  • Alignment of the proposed research to one of USC’s areas of research concentration
  • Record of research publications
  • Professional research experience 
  • Is willing to become dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and phlebotomy qualified
  • Is a highly motivated individual who possesses a strong work ethic and willingness to learn
  • Has excellent communication skills
  • Has the ability to work independently and within a team
  • Excellent attention to detail and an ability to think laterally
  • Has demonstrated organisational ability and good record-keeping skills
  • Has an interest in working with the older adult population
  • Laboratory skills are desirable but not essential.
Eligible programs
Number available
$27,596 (in 2019)
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