Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Alison Carey
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Dr Elise Pelzer
Senior Lecturer
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health

External supervisors

  • Dr Emma Sweeney, UQ CCR
  • Dr Jacob Ticken, UQ CCR
  • Professor Vicki Clifton, Mater Research


Group B Streptococcusi (GBS; Streptococcus agalactiae) is a leading pathogen that is responsible for neonatal meningitis and sepsis. Up to 40% of pregnant  women have asymptomatic vaginal colonisation, and this can lead to chorioamnionitis, premature rupture of membranes and urinary tract infections, while vertical transmission from mother to baby can cause pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and death of the neonate.

There is increasing evidence that reproductive tract coinfections withGBS are occurring (eg. HSV, Candida albicans, Mycoplasma spp.), and maycontribute to poor pregnancy and neonatal outcomes. This project is planned tobuild upon a substantial amount of data that the QUT supervisors have alreadygenerated from the QFC pilot study, completed with collaborators at Mater Research and Mater Hospital.

Research activities

In this project you will be expected to develop a number of molecular assays (PCR) to identify various vaginal microorganisms (GBS, Ureaplasma spp., Mycoplasma spp.) and their antimicrobial resistance patterns. These will be used to test vaginal swabs collected from women during pregnancy. This data will then be correlated to existing vaginal microbiome and placental DNA signatures.


The aims of this project are to:

  • develop a suite of molecular identification assays to identify and differentiate various vaginal microorganisms
  • use these tests to examine vaginal and placental samples from pregnant women
  • correlate this data to vaginal microbiome and placental DNA signature data and maternalneonatal outcomes.

Skills and experience

You should have an interest in:

  • maternal and neonatal health
  • reproductive tract microbiomes
  • bioinformatics
  • microbiology.

Experience in molecular biology, especially PCR and bioinformatics is preferred.


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

Explore our research scholarships



Contact the supervisor for more information.