PhD Scholarship in developing miniaturised peripheral nerve interface technology

From a collaboration between RMIT University and Bionics Institute (BI), this project will expand BI’s vagus nerve stimulation technology and utilise novel thin-film fabrication techniques to develop a miniaturised peripheral nerve array for abdominal vagus nerve of mice.

Stimulating the vagus nerve is used clinically for treatment of numerous human diseases (epilepsy, heart failure, obesity etc). As such, the effects of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) are diverse and have created considerable interest in the clinical community.

At the Bionics Institute, we have developed and validated an electrode array for long-term implantation onto the abdominal vagus nerve of rats and sheep. This technology is now entering clinical trials for the treatment of Crohn’s disease. There are numerous mouse genetic models of human diseases, which are an essential tool for understanding mechanisms of disease, and discovering new therapies. The overall goal of this project is to expand our vagus nerve stimulation technology and adapt it to awake, freely moving mice.

The outcomes of this research will be to develop, manufacture and validate the safety and efficacy of a miniaturised peripheral nerve array in a mouse disease model.

3 years with a possibility of extension to 3.5 years

$32,714 per annum for a student stipend (Total for 3.5 year term = $114,500)



One scholarship is available. 

To be eligible for this scholarship, applicants must:

  • have first-class honours or equivalent in a relevant discipline of bioengineering or electrical engineering
  • be an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or an international student meeting the minimum English language requirements;
  • provide evidence of good oral and written communication skills;
  • demonstrate the ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary research team;
  • meet RMIT’s entry requirements for PhD 

To apply, please submit the following documents to Prof. Flora Salim ( cc’ing

  • a cover letter (research statement)
  • a copy of electronic academic transcripts
  • a CV that includes any publications/awards and the contact details of 2 referees.

For international applicants, evidence of English proficiency may be required.

The research is aimed at developing technology for use in mice. As such, some degree of rodent handling and exposure is required for this project. 

Principal supervisor Dr. Sophie Payne has extensive experience in chronic vagus nerve stimulation, autonomic neuroscience and animal disease models and will lead the over project.

Co-supervisor Mr. Owen Burns is an experienced mechanical engineer that designed the original vagus nerve arrays and will provide expertise in fabrication and manufacture of the device.

A/Prof Elisa Hill will provide expertise in mice disease models, with a particular focus on Autism and Inflammatory Bowel disease. Facilities at the Bionics Institute will allow rapid prototyping and fabrication of electrode arrays in house. 

Sophie Payne


Elisa Hill

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.