HDR Scholarship - Stress, lifestyle and allostatic load

Updated: 2 months ago
Location: Melbourne, VICTORIA
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!

Project Supervisors

Associate Professor Susan Torres and Dr Anne Turner (Deakin University)

Additional Supervision team

Professor Åse Marie Hansen and Associate Professor Kirsten Nabe-Nielsen (University of Copenhagen)


School of Exercise and Nutrition Science / Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition


Faculty of Health


Melbourne Burwood Campus

Psychological stress, including work stress, is highly prevalent in our society and has been linked to the development of diseases such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, depression and anxiety. Life stress is also associated with poor health outcomes and increased mortality. Stress is associated with lifestyle behaviours including diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour, alcohol use and smoking. Poor health behaviours are likely to cluster in individuals and there may be a potential for additive effects of these health behaviours and the risk of chronic diseases.
Allostatic load refers to the “wear and tear the body experiences when repeated allostatic responses are activated during stressful situations”. Allostatic load has been linked to a higher risk of death and to the decline in cognitive and physical functioning. Prospective studies have reported that higher levels of work stress are associated with future allostatic load. A recent study found that a higher healthy lifestyle score (higher score indicative of healthier lifestyle and included: diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour, smoking, social support network and sleep) was associated with lower odds of high allostatic load. Combined healthy lifestyle behaviours may play a role in the association between stress and allostatic load; however, to the best of our knowledge no studies have investigated this relationship.

The suitable candidate will receive a single doctoral degree, issued and jointly badged with the insignia from Deakin University and the University of Copenhagen. The candidate will spend some time working on their PhD in Copenhagen. Funds would be available from the University of Copenhagen to cover accommodation and travel costs to Copenhagen.

Project aim

The aim of this PhD is to explore the association between stress and allostatic load, and to determine the role that combined lifestyle behaviours play in this association. This PhD will utilise data from large cohort studies conducted in Australia and Copenhagen. The aim of these studies will be to determine if work stress and life stress at baseline is associated with the development of future allostatic load. An allostatic load index will be derived including anthropometric measures and variables from the cardiovascular, metabolic, immune, and respiratory systems. We will also investigate how combined lifestyle behaviours (diet, physical activity, sedentary behaviour, alcohol consumption, smoking habits, sleep quality) play a role in this association.

Applications close 5pm, Friday 20 December 2019.

This scholarship is available over 3 years.

  • Stipend of $27,596 per annum tax exempt (2019 rate)
  • Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate or overseas
  • International students only: Tuition fee and overseas health coverage for the duration of 4 years

To be eligible you must:

  • be either a domestic or international candidate
  • meet Deakin's and University of Copenhagen's PhD entry requirements
  • be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master's degree with a substantial research component
  • be able to physically locate to both University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Deakin University (Australia)

Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.

For more information about this scholarship, please contact Associate Professor Susan Torres

A/Prof. Susan Torres
Associate Professor
Email Susan Torres
+61 3 9244 6189

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