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Post-Doctoral Projects Available

Understanding the bi-directional sleep-pain relationship in women.

This project will explore the role of sleep disruption in the production or exacerbation of pain in women. For the first part of the project sleep will be disrupted in participants by means of forced awakenings in the sleep lab where after their perception to various models of experimental pain will be assessed. The second part of the project is to analyse the data from a survey done in women from various universities across the country. Both these projects can start immediately and will generate at least two publications.

Hosted by Dr Stella Iacovides.

Drowsiness, sleep and cardio-metabolic risk in South African truck drivers

Partners: Wits Sleep Laboratory, WHRI, North Star Alliance


The postdoctoral fellow will first investigate the association between sleep and cardio-metabolic measurements (BP, CIMT, PWV, lipids, point glucose) using an existing dataset of 570 truck drivers. This will result in at least one publication. In parallel, the postdoctoral fellow will lead a study where different physiological markers (actimetry, heart rate, eye movements, reaction times) will be assessed to detect drowsiness, with the view of developing a patentable device.

Hosted by Dr Karine Scheuermaier.

Which aortic function indices enhance cardiovascular risk prediction beyond brachial blood pressure?

Although the value of brachial artery blood pressure (BP) measurements in predicting cardiovascular risk is well established, there is increasing evidence that function of the aorta may add to or enhance risk prediction beyond brachial BP. However, the exact aortic function index (eg. pulse pressure amplification; reflected wave pressure; forward wave pressure; characteristic impendence), that adds to risk prediction, is uncertain. The aims of this project (involving both human and animal studies) are to determine the aortic changes that account for various cardiovascular events including stroke, critical limb ischemia and heart failure or variations in end organ changes.

Hosted by Professors Angela Woodiwiss and Gavin Norton.

The biomechanics and physiology of human balance

Envisaged projects may include: the agreement between gold standard physical and different kinematic models of human centre of mass(CoM); assessing the agreement between different kinematic estimates of CoM and kinetic centre of pressure movement in different populations; circadian variation in the biomechanics and the physiological factors determining human balance ability.

Hosted by Associate Professor Warrick McKinon.

Rugby scrumming performance

Envisaged projects may include: changes in scrumming technique with experience or other intrinsic/extrinsic factors; the changes in scrumming technique with increasing proficiency; the relationship between individual scrumming kinetics and 8 man scrum force generation; the changes in scrumming technique and force generation with different footwear and on different surfaces.

Hosted by Associate Professor Warrick McKinon.

Effect of high intensity interval training on body composition & cardiometabolic health in SA women

Physical inactivity is one of the largest public health concerns of the 21st century. In South Africa, it is reported that 48% of the population does not meet the minimum requirements of recommended weekly activity which is a minimum of 150-minutes moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Considering the large proportion of individuals not meeting minimum activity requirements, alternative strategies to reduce the burden of disease caused by inactivity are required.


The aim of this study is to determine the effects high intensity intermittent training on the body composition and cardiometabolic effects of South African women. This study will be a randomized controlled trial where participants (both healthy weight and overweight/obese women) will either undertake a HIIT or a moderate intensity exercise training program for 14 weeks. At the start and on completion of each intervention each participant will undergo a series of physiological measurements of body composition and cardiometabolic health. Adherence to the HIIT protocol will be assessed using research grade and commercial activity trackers.

Hosted by Dr Rebecca Meiring.

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