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Internships in Global Health - Telethon Kids Institute (TKI)
Perth, Australia (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms:
Program Terms: Summer
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Restrictions: Princeton applicants only
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Dept Offering Program: Global Health and Health Policy Program Type: Internship
Language of Instruction: English Language Prerequisite: No
Program Features: Field Work, Research Degree Level: 1st year u/g students, 2nd year u/g students, 3rd year u/g students
Time Away: Summer Housing options: Apartment (alone), Apartment (Shared), Guesthouse, Student responsibility
Duration of Program: 8 or more weeks
Program Description:
Program Description:

TKI Logo
Telethon Kids Institute
Various Research Internships

Location: Perth, Australia
Duration: 8-12 weeks
Number of Positions: 7
Stipend: $6,000
About: The Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) is a research organization that brings together communities, researchers, practitioners, policy makers and funders, who share a vision to improve the health and wellbeing of children through excellence in research.  TKI’s research focus areas include aboriginal health; brain and behavior; chronic and severe diseases; and early environment.
Intern Responsibilities: There are seven potential focus areas for a student intern.
FOCUS AREA #1 – Physical Activity Policy for Early Childhood Education and Care
The Child Physical Activity, Health and Development team works to uncover the best environments, policies and programs to improve children’s physical activity levels, health and development to support lifelong health and wellbeing. Research draws on the skills and experience of the research team’s multi-disciplinary backgrounds to engage with stakeholders and deliver high quality research, policy, programs and training for children, parents and educators to support physically active and healthy childhoods. Research training and experience is provided for undergraduate and post-graduate students who are interested in pursuing a career in child health and development, health promotion or population health.
The PLAYCE program of research focuses on developing, evaluating and translating strategies for improving young children’s movement behaviors, health and development. This research targets the environments in which young children are exposed; home, neighborhood and early childhood education and care. This is a research intensive internationally recognized multidisciplinary team with complimentary expertise in child physical activity and related health behaviors, community and early childhood education and care based interventions, supportive environments for physical activity and health, national and international physical activity policy and guideline development, physical activity measurement, health promotion policy implementation and evaluation, qualitative and quantitative health research methods, and consumer and community engagement.
The intern will work primarily with Associate Professor Hayley Christian and will have the opportunity to work with other leading researchers from other departments and institutions nationally and internationally. The intern will aid the development, implementation and evaluation of evidence informed physical activity policy for early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers in Australia. S/he will work collaboratively with government, NGOs and private partners and work on quantitative and qualitative studies to capture high quality data, data processing and analyses, and assist with the dissemination and translation of findings to partners investigators and stakeholders.  The intern will be part of this multi-institutional NHMRC-funded project and have the opportunity to partake in stakeholder engagements with different partner agencies.
Day to day tasks will include:
  • Policy/guideline development and dissemination
  • Meetings with partner agencies (Cancer Council, National Heart Foundation, Goodstart Australia, Nature Play Australia, the Australian Childcare Alliance, Minderoo Foundation-Collaboration for Kids, Department of Health and Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries)
  • Working with the Cancer Council SunSmart schools team
  • Data analysis
  • Research translation processes
  • Childcare professional development training program role out
  • Stakeholder consultation and events
*There is scope for the intern to travel with a staff member to external offsite meetings if interested.
Desired Qualifications: An enthusiastic, competent student who will be able to work well independently and collaboratively with the wider research team, along with all external partners and stakeholders. Clear, critical thinking skills and a strong conceptual and analytical background in quantitative and qualitative methods will be an advantage. Excellent writing and communication skills along with and interest in child health and physical activity related research is preferred. A keen interest in health promotion program and policy development, implementation and evaluation methods and implementation research is preferred.
FOCUS AREA #2 – The SToP Trial (See, Treat, Prevent Skin Sores and Scabies: a Cluster Randomized, Stepped-Wedge Trial for Skin Disease Control in Remote Western Australia)
In remote Australian Aboriginal communities, skin infections (sores and scabies) are common. At any one time, almost one out of every two children have skin sores, and one in five children may have scabies. If left untreated, skin infections may lead to more serious health conditions including severe infection (sepsis), bone infection, kidney disease and rheumatic heart disease, all of which occur at among the highest rates in the world in Aboriginal people. The SToP Trial aims to achieve a 50% reduction in the prevalence of impetigo (skin sores) in school aged children 5-9 years. The SToP trial will implement several activities aimed at improving the recognition, treatment and prevention of skin infections over a three year period:
  • “See”ing skin infections through development of training resources/packages within a community dermatology model through school-based surveillance of the primary outcome;
  • “Treat”ing skin infections using the latest evidence implemented using the Structured Administration and Supply Arrangements ‘standing orders’ namely co-trimoxazole for 3 days BD for impetigo, ivermectin on days 0 and 8 for scabies cases and their contacts and holistic care including treatment of those identified with crusted scabies (ivermectin on days 0, 1 and 8 for grade 1 crusted scabies) and;
  • “Prevent”ing skin infections through embedded, culturally informed and developed health promotion and environmental health activities.
The intern will collect and analyze data in support of the SToP Trial, including a visit to a remote community in Northern West Australia. The remote visit would include assisting in assessing children for skin infections as part of school based screening activities. The intern will work independently but in frequent contact with Dr. Asha Bowen, the SToP trial team, the Project Manager for Skin Health, and the broader Skin Health team.
Desired Qualifications: An interest in Indigenous health, epidemiology and clinical studies in remote contexts. The student will be involved in quantitative data analysis.
FOCUS AREA #3 – The Missing Piece Surveillance Study: Understanding Contribution of Gas Pharyngitis in the Context of High Impetigo Prevalence
Primary prevention of Acute Rheumatic Fever (ARF) and Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD) begins with early treatment of Group A streptococcal (GAS) infections. Unfortunately in remote northern Australia where the burden of ARF/RHD is the highest amongst Aboriginal children, it remains unclear whether GAS pharyngitis or GAS impetigo is the primary driver of ARF/RHD. The burden of GAS pharyngitis is anecdotally low in this population. The burden of GAS impetigo is well documented and highly prevalent. To prevent RHD, it is critical to determine whether either or both GAS diseases are contributing to ARF/RHD in order to effectively target and prioritize primary prevention activities. This project will implement prospective surveillance to determine the concurrent burden of skin and throat infections in children, from two remote communities in Northern Australia, over a one year period. The results will help inform the primary prevention strategies needed to reduce ARF/RHD in remote Australian populations.
An opportunity exists for an intern to be involved in data analysis and/or data collection, including a visit to a remote community in Northern West Australia. The remote visit would include assisting in assessing children for skin and throat infection. Data analysis of this project will help inform the primary prevention strategies needed to reduce ARF/RHD in remote Australian populations. The student will work independently but in frequent contact with Dr. Asha Bowen, the Post-Doctoral Fellow who leads the project, as well as the broader Skin Health Team.
Desired Qualifications: An interest in Rheumatic Heart Disease and primary prevention, epidemiology and clinical studies in remote contexts. The student will be involved in developing resources for this study and study visits.
FOCUS AREA #4 – Quality of Life in Children with Intellectual Disability
The Child Disability team at Telethon Kids Institute works towards understanding the natural history of childhood disabilities and improving quality of life for affected children and their families. Our focus is on children with rare genetic disorders and those with intellectual disability.
Children with intellectual disability and their families often experience poor health and wellbeing yet our understanding as to which factors are associated with the best quality of life is disappointingly poor. The Child Disability team has access to several data collections that will allow specific analyses to clarify risk factors for poor health, quality of life and the validation of outcome measures. The precise research question to be addressed in this internship will be determined together with the prospective student. Activities could involve 1) data of large population administrative and health datasets or 2) analyses of questionnaire data that describe impairments, functional abilities, community participation, family functioning, and child and family quality of life.
The intern will identify a research question that can be addressed within the dataset and construct an analysis plan. Thereafter, the intern will clean the data and conduct analyses in the statistical software program Stata. As a member of the authorship group, the intern will draft a manuscript together with Child Disability team members for submission to a journal.
Desired Qualifications: An interest in child disability issues and professional writing, and in applying biostatistical skills.
FOCUS AREA #5 – Interaction and Behavior: Evaluating an Equine (Horse) Assisted Learning Program for Aboriginal Young People
The Yawardani Jan-ga team’s main aim is to increase “life-skills” among Aboriginal young people, or increase their capacity to manage feelings and emotional highs and lows. Better life-skills can help build healthy relationships with others, and respond in healthier ways to life stresses.
There are two main components to Yawardani Jan-ga:
1. Intervention: The Yawardani Jan-ga EAL (Equine Assisted Learning) program will be Aboriginal run and staffed. Supervised by Professor Juli Coffin, the delivery of EAL sessions by local Aboriginal EAL Practitioners provides a vehicle for the delivery of a culturally secure and appropriate intervention to improve mental, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing.  Through guided experiences with the horse, a young person is encouraged to develop increased self-awareness, self-regulation, positive relationship skills, healthy boundaries, persistence, and confidence.
2. Intervention-science (evaluation research): To understand the impact on young people and evaluate the intervention, a non-experimental research design has been employed.  Data collection is qualitatively led. Techniques employed will include direct observation, interviews, and video, photo and voice technology to capture observable behavior during EAL sessions.
Project Description: The EAL component of Yawardani Jan-ga is a direct response to the urgent need for culturally safe mental health programs in the Kimberley region of Australia, as highlighted by the findings of an investigation into the deaths of 13 Aboriginal young people in the Kimberley between 2012 and 2016. The findings highlighted the severe impact of intergenerational trauma on the wellbeing of young people and the lack of culturally safe mental health services in the Kimberley.  Through the Yawardani Jan-ga EAL Program, the team has access to qualitative and quantitative data that will allow the development of a coding guide to enable the assessment of each member of the dyad and of the interactive component that affects each member differently.
The precise research question to be addressed in this internship will be determined together with the prospective student intern, depending on their skills and interests. Thereafter, the intern will clean the data and conduct analyses.  Data analysis activities could involve 1) Qualitative analysis of photo/video/voice and/or 2) analyses of quantitative data that describe the EAL program (participant behavioral characteristics, number of sessions, type of sessions, progress measures). *There may be scope for the student to travel with a staff member to external offsite meetings and the Telethon Kids office in the town of Broome.
Data analysis of this project will help inform the development of a coding guide to analyze accurately and thoroughly visible behavior and interactions. This is an excellent opportunity to work with an inspiring team motivated to change the path of Aboriginal youth. The successful candidate will be rewarded with a diverse and multidisciplinary team each with their own specific skills, a friendly and professional learning environment, and comprehensive and modern facilities. 
Day to day tasks will include familiarization with project (including literature and data); background reading on the use of observation in the analysis of dyad relationships, focusing on animal-assisted therapies; data analysis; attend meetings with project team and stakeholders; research translation; coding guide outline and development; and incorporating EAL-practitioner feedback on the coding guide.
Desired qualifications: Background or interest in psychology, education, rehabilitation therapy, occupational therapy, or experiential therapy; previous experience in qualitative and quantitative data analysis; excellent critical thinking and problem-solving skills; excellent attention to detail and record-keeping ability.
FOCUS AREA #6 – The Link between Inflammation and the Daily Lives of Aboriginal People
'Kulunga' is a Noongar word meaning child. The Kulunga Aboriginal Unit was so named to recognize its focus on improving Aboriginal child health.  Kulunga has four core aims:
1. Provide support, advice and community navigation for all Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) researchers focused on the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and families to ensure the research responds to community needs and meets the Institute’s Standards for Aboriginal Health Research
2. Provide cultural training and oversight of cultural governance within research projects
3. Provide training and support for all Aboriginal people involved in conducting research at TKI, and enable their career trajectory
4. Build awareness and understanding of TKI research in Aboriginal communities
Project Description: This project will be led by Kristen White - Program Manager (Kimberley and Pilbara) and aims to address Kulunga objective 4. The specific focus of the project is help communities understand the link between inflammation and the daily lives and social experiences of Aboriginal people. Inflammation is an integral part of the stress response.  In the context of the “fight or flight” reaction, acute psychosocial stress can induce activation of important inflammation regulatory pathways, in turn promoting increased susceptibility to infection (skin and respiratory), impaired repair of damaged tissue, and potentially an important role in the development of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Inflammation therefore, may potentially link many of the research projects underway at Telethon Kids. The information compiled for this project will help inform the development of training packages targeting school-age Aboriginal children and communities.
Desired Qualifications: Clear, critical thinking skills and a strong conceptual and analytical background in quantitative and qualitative methods will be an advantage. Excellent writing and communication skills along with and interest in the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease is preferred. A keen interest in health promotion will be advantageous, along with initiative and resourcefulness to gather and synthesize relevant information.
FOCUS AREA #7 - Sensitizing Medulloblastoma to Treatment Using Kinase Inhibitors
The Brain Tumor Research Program at Telethon Kids Institute, established in 2011, brings together the clinic and the laboratory to advance research into childhood brain tumors. We are dedicated to finding and testing new therapies for the treatment of deadly childhood brain cancers. We do this by identifying good therapeutic candidates in the laboratory and testing them on tumors growing in the brains of mice. Our tumor cells are carefully chosen to represent the breadth of different tumors from patients as best as is currently possible. We test if the therapy can improve survival of the mice, how the therapy works and if there are any adverse effects on normal tissue. We use this data to inform clinical trial design aimed at improving the outcomes of children with brain cancer.
More children die from brain tumors than any other disease. This project focuses on the most common malignant brain cancer of childhood: medulloblastoma. One in three patients with high-risk disease die within 5 years of diagnosis and we need more effective therapies.  Our goal is to find ways to enhance existing treatments, prove the new methods work using laboratory techniques, then translate them into clinical use.
Medulloblastoma is treated with a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Radiation and chemotherapy work by damaging the DNA inside cancer cells, causing the cells to die. However, cancer cells often repair the DNA damage, survive and multiply; leading to treatment failure and tumor regrowth. We have evidence that both radiotherapy and chemotherapy can be improved if DNA repair is stopped.
The drug that we will investigate in this project is iATR, which stops DNA repair by blocking a protein in the call called ATR. When DNA is damaged, ATR normally works to repair DNA, which allows cancer cells to survive; but in the presence of iATR, DNA repair is stopped, and the cells die. This works better in cancer cells than healthy cells because cancer cells multiply faster. We have demonstrated that iATR enhances the tumor-killing activity of chemotherapy in mouse models of medulloblastoma, resulting in reduced tumor growth and improved animal survival. This project will focus on understanding the mechanisms by which this drug works.
Laboratory benchwork may include but not be limited to the following techniques:
  • Immunohistochemistry, histology, microscopy and quantitative morphometry
  • Tissue culture of mouse and human brain cancer cells
Desired Qualifications: No mandatory qualifications required, however understanding of PC2 laboratory practices and some laboratory experience would be preferred including knowledge occupational health and safety requirements.
View Internship Summary Posters from Past Telethon Kids Institute Princeton Student Interns:
Summer 2019
Coco Chou '20 - Missing Piece Surveillance Study
David Cordoba '20 - Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Youth with Type 1 Diabetes in Western Australia
Jocelyn Galindo '21 - The Measurement of Adequate Housing Conditions in Aboriginal Households Living in Urban Settings
Rachel Kim '20 - Quality of Life and Child Intellectual Disability
Lucy Wang '21 - SToP Trial: Assessing Impetigo and Scabies in Remote Aboriginal Communities

Summer 2018
Ellen Anshelevich '19 - Developing an Effective Community Care Program For Skin Infections in Aboriginal Communities
Andy Zheng '20 - Evaluating and Supporting Suicide Prevention: Addressing Social and Emotional Wellbeing

Summer 2017
Patrick Dinh '18 - Racism & Skin Disease in Aboriginal Communities in the Western Desert
Aaron Gurayah '18 - Beat CF: Overview of an Adaptive Clinical Trial in Respitory Medicine
Danielle Victoriano '19 - AusVaxSafety: Descriptive Analysis for Zostava

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This program is not currently accepting applications. Please consult the sponsoring department's website for application open dates.
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This program is currently not accepting applications.