If you are interested in undertaking any of the PhD projects below. Please reach out to Dr Sonia Shah including the project name in the subject line and with an up to date CV attached.

1. Gender matters: Using genomics data to understand sex-specific risk in heart disease

*this project qualifies for the Global Challenges Scholarship

Principal Advisor: Dr Sonia Shah

Associate Advisor: Prof Gita Mishra

The 2019 Women and Heart Disease forum highlighted clear disparities in CVD outcomes between males and females. The report (Arnott et al 2019 Heart, Lung and Circulation), highlighted a need to increase our understanding of sex-specific pathophysiology driving susceptibility to common diseases, and identification of sex-specific risk factors to improve early detection and prevention of CVD in women. Until recently, sex-specific research was underpowered and most studies on heart disease included a much smaller number of female participants. But this is beginning to change with the availability of large biobank data.  
This project will require statistical analysis of very large datasets with health records linked to genomic data to address these gaps in our understanding of heart disease in women. This includes data from the UK Biobank cohort in ~500,000 individuals (54% women) and data from the Australian Women’s Longitudinal Study (led by Prof Gita Mishra), a study looking at the factors contributing to the health and wellbeing of over 57,000 Australian women, and is the largest, longest-running project of its kind ever conducted in Australia.  
This project will lead to a better understanding of sex-specific risk factors for CVD, which will inform better CVD prevention strategies in women.

  • Group Leader, Dr Sonia Shah is the recipient of numerous awards including:
    • 2022 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Award
    • 2022 UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award
    • 2021/2022 Australian Superstar of STEM
    • 2020 Women in Technology Rising Star Science Award
    • 2020 Genetic Society of Australasia Early Career Award
  • PhD student, Mr Xiadong Mo, received the 2022 Oral abstract prize at the International Clinical Cardiovascular Genetics Conference
  • Post-doctoral research fellow, Dr Clara Jiang attended the 'Falling Walls Lab 2022' where she presented 'Repurposing drugs: breaking the wall of treating depression'.


  • Prof Julie McGaughran and Prof John Atherton (Queensland Cardiac Genetics Clinic, Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital)
  • Queensland Liver Transplant Service (Dr Nick Butler, Dr Peter Hodgkinson), Princess Alexandra Hospital
  • HERMES Heart Failure Consortium https://www.hermesconsortium.org/
  • University College London, UK (Dr Tom Lumbers)
  • King's College London, UK (Prof Cathryn Lewis)
  • The University of Edinburgh, UK (Prof Andrew McIntosh)