Early MRI and Childhood Outcomes

Project Code: 10464530

Faculty: Liggins Institute

Department: Liggins Institute

Main Supervisor: Dist Prof Jane Harding

Principal investigator: Dr Eleanor Kennedy (eken242)

Application open date: 23 Jun 2020

Application deadline: 31 Jan 2021

Enrolment information: NZ Citizens, NZ Permanent Residents, International


MRI is increasingly being used in preterm newborns to assess early brain injury and brain maturation, but its relationship to later development is unclear. We plan to determine the relationship between early MRI and later development in children who as babies took part in clinical trials of additional nutrition, or of magnesium sulphate administration to prevent cerebral palsy. If early MRI is predictive of particular problems such as cerebral palsy, it could be used in the future to identify babies at risk and allow early intervention.

What we are looking for in a successful applicant

We are looking for candidates with a degree in a health, psychology or education-related discipline and some experience with MRI analysis.

Scholarships and awards are available to support PhD students at the Liggins Institute, including a Liggins Institute ’Start Up’ Doctoral Scholarship for your first year’s fees. Find out more.

There are no international fees for PhD students: as long as you live in New Zealand during your period of enrolment, and even if you initially start your PhD from overseas, you will pay the same as New Zealanders.


We will undertake newborn MRI scanning including structural, diffusion tensor and functional imaging. Children will be assessed at two years of age for cognitive, language, motor and executive function. We will determine the relationships between early MRI findings and later developmental problems, and the effects of the trial interventions on these.

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