Studies Recruiting

The Institute regularly recruits members of the community to participate in research and clinical trials. 
We are currently seeking participants for: 

Autism Spectrum Disorder are characterised by impairments in social communication and restrictive behaviour, repetitive interests and sensory processing issues. These issues can have a more or less severe impact on everyday life activities and participation.

Researchers at Murdoch Children's Research Institute, The University of Melbourne and Royal Children’s Hospital are trying to understand if certain thinking skills called executive functioning, are associated with problems in everyday tasks and participation in social and community activities, together with how factors contributes to a better perceived quality of life.

Adolescence is a transitional phase of life. Many physical changes occurs in young people and at the same time as demands from family and the social environment change. Some adolescents with autism have difficulties with the execution of daily tasks and tend to participate less in social activities. We want to understand better if these challenge are associated with certain thinking skills. 

We are looking for families with one or more adolescents with ASD without intellectual disabilities, in the past called high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome.  The potential participant needs to be aged between 10 and 16 years old.

Participating in this research will involve completion of some psychological assessments by the child/young person and completion of questionnaires by their parent/caregiver. 

Please contact us for more information about the research and what is involved.

If you would like more information about this study please contact;

Francesca Lami | PhD candidate, Autism Research Team, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne
(03) 9345 4620;

The Susceptibility to Paediatric Infection Group at MCRI are looking for children to act as healthy controls for this study.

The CUPID study is interested in the effects of chronic inflammation in childhood on the blood vessels. We know that cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and stroke) generally occurs in adults, however we also know that the changes in the blood vessels that lead to cardiovascular disease can start before birth and develop slowly throughout childhood and into adulthood. This hardening of the arteries (also known as atherosclerosis) is caused by inflammation of the artery wall.
At present, very little research has been done in children to look at the association between inflammatory diseases and early atherosclerosis. We will look at blood vessel structure and function and examine the differences between children with one of these conditions compared to children without chronic inflammatory disease.

Your child may be suitable if they are:

  • Aged 7 to 18 years
  • Healthy

You will be asked to attend MCRI at The Royal Children’s Hospital for a one off visit which will take approximately 90 minutes. During that visit we will ask about any health problems your child and your family have had, including information relating to heart and blood vessel health.

The following assessments will then be performed;

  • Height and weight using special scales which also measure body fat 
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood sample (anaesthetic cream can be used)
  • An ultrasound of the blood vessels of the neck and abdomen (tummy)
  • A photograph of the retina (back of the eye)

The entire assessment will take about 90 minutes. Appointments can be scheduled to suit.

We hope that this knowledge may benefit children in the future by increasing the understanding of inflammatory disease and cardiovascular health.

Reimbursements for RCH car parking or public transport costs will be provided at the time of the scheduled study visit.

If you are interested in your child participating or would like more information about the project, please contact:
Meg Kaegi, Study Coordinator  
Tel: (03) 9936 6553   

The ALLabaord study is looking at cognitive outcomes following treatment for childhood cancer. The ALLaboard project is being conducted at The Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne. We are interested in looking at the development of thinking skills and behaviour in children who have completed treatment for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. In particular we are interested in how attention/concentration and thinking speed change over the 2 years following treatment, and understanding how difficulties in these areas might be related to brain development and genetic vulnerabilities.

Participation in this study is the same for both the patient and control group, and involves the following components:

  • Neuropsychological assessment: Testing of intellectual skills, processing speed, working memory and attention skills.
  • Questionnaires: Standardised measures to be completed by the child, parent/guardian and a teacher.
  • Saliva sample: Collected for the purpose of genotyping (folate pathway genes only). Buccal swabs will be used to collect DNA from the cheek;
  • MRI brain scan: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans (Note this is an optional part of the study, and only children aged 7 years and above are eligible for this component)

Participant criteria

  • 4-16 years of age
  • No history of developmental of neurological disorder
  • No prematurity (less than 30 weeks gestation)

Contact Information

If you would like more information, please contact Madeleine Bowden
Phone: 03) 99 366 026

Do you have a child or know someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder? We are looking for children and adolescents:

  • aged between 7.5 and 18 years
  • have a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • willing to enter a randomised controlled trial
  • prepared to take an SSRI (Fluoxetine) or placebo for 16 weeks

Why we need your help
Over the last decade, the use of Fluoxetine and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for children with autism has grown. However, based on current literature, how well SSRIs work for autism is unknown.  Therefore we need you to help us determine how well fluoxetine works for the treatment of restricted, repetitive and stereotyped behaviours in children and adolescents with autism.

Total study duration is 22 weeks, with 2-3 pre-trial hospital assessments and weekly/fortnightly telephone calls. Part of the assessment includes a cognitive assessment and an Autism Diagnostic Interview. There is no costs to families.

Please note, the child can be on a stimulant medication and/or melatonin but cannot be on risperidone.

If you would like further information contact Molly O’Sullivan (Clinical Trials Coordinator) via telephone 03 8341 6229 or email

If you have a family history of fragile X related disorders, or if you are the parent of a child with the fragile X premutation or full mutation, or yourself have been tested and identified to have one of these results, we would like to invite you and your family members to participate in the FREE FX study.

We hope that this research will lead to earlier diagnosis and a better understanding of the needs of families with medium and large expansions in the fragile X gene. This may lead to improvements in quality of life through earlier access to intervention programs

What does taking part in this research project involve?
To take part in this study in Victoria, participants need to be under the age of 42. To take part in this study in New South Wales and Tasmania, participants need to be under the age of 18. Taking part in Victoria involves one visit at The Murdoch Children's Research Institute (based at The Royal Children’s Hospital). Taking part in New South Wales involves one visit at Hunter Genetics. Taking part in Tasmania involves one study visit at the clinics attached to the Royal Hobart Hospital. During this visit we will take a blood or saliva sample for some genetic testing and conduct an assessment of your and/or your child’s behaviour, thinking and memory skills, which will involve for example being asked to solve puzzles and remember lists. The assessment will take approximately 3 hours. We will reimburse you a reasonable amount for your visit travel costs to the site of the appointment in order to participate in this project. Alternatively, we can organize a research assistant to come to your home to do the assessment. For the participants assessed in New South Wales and Tasmania, or for participants assessed at home, the study genetic counsellor may organize a separate time most convenient to the participants for blood or saliva samples to be collected.

For Victoria and Tasmania
Ms Chriselle Hickerton; Research Genetic Counsellor
Ph: (03) 8341 6209
Justine Elliott, Research Genetic Counsellor
Ph: (03) 9936 6047

For New South Wales
Carolyn Rogers, Research Genetic Counsellor
Ph: (02) 4985 3100

UNIQUE Autism is an identical twins approach to exploring epigenetic causes of autism spectrum disorders

Researchers at The Royal Children’s Hospital are looking at possible causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and the role of the environment, genes and how genes behave. Identical twins with ASD are rare and offer a unique opportunity to further knowledge about causes of ASD.

We are looking for families with identical twins to take part in this research.  If you have identical twins, aged between 2-16 years, and one or both twins have ASD, please contact us for more information about the research and what is involved.

If you would like more information about this study please contact;

Amanda Brignell
Phone: 03 9345 4797

We are conducting a study to look at ways to monitor early lung disease in children with cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is a genetic condition that people are born with. Children with CF undergo many lung function tests to detect and monitor lung disease. Preschool lung function tests use specialised equipment and highly trained staff to investigate how well the lungs of children with CF work. Currently we do not have reference data from children without respiratory disease for many of these lung function tests. We would like to know how lung function of children with CF differs to that of children without CF.

We hope that with this knowledge, we will be able to improve care for children with CF by intervening in early life with the aim of preventing the worsening of lung function. Collection of lung function data from local healthy children without CF, such as your child, will significantly enhance our understanding of lung function in children with CF. 

Participant Criteria

  • Aged 3-6 years with no known pre-existing lung disease (i.e. asthma)

You will be asked to attend The Royal Children’s Hospital preschool lung function laboratory to measure your child’s lung function on 3 separate occasions over a 12 month period; one visit close to recruitment, one at six months and one at 12 months following the initial visit. We will also ask if you are interested in being contacted 12 months following the last visit in order to collect longitudinal growth and development data. The lung function tests performed include spirometry, the forced oscillation technique (FOT) as well as  multiple and single breath gas washout tests.
At your initial visit, researchers will ask you questions about your child’s previous and current respiratory health. The questions are about persistent symptoms such as cough, chest infections, breathlessness or noisy breathing and any previous respiratory diagnoses. The initial visit can take approximately 90 minutes to complete, with each subsequent visit, taking approximately 60 minutes to complete.

Reimbursements for hospital car parking will be provided at the time of the scheduled study visit.

Contact Details
If you’re interested in your child taking part in this study or you would like to discuss  these preschool lung function tests further, please don’t hesitate to contact:

Natalie Zajakovski
T: (03) 9936 6273

Chronic constipation is a lifelong problem that begins in childhood and is a major problem in the general community. Chronic constipation causes faecal incontinence, recurrent faecal impaction and significant functional and emotional problems for both child and family and in 30% it persists into adult life. Children with chronic constipation that fails a new treatment that relieves their debilitating symptoms. The past decade has brought significant advances in the understanding of paediatric constipation. This study will determine the efficacy of multimodal treatment; in addition we will test a physiotherapy method (transcutaneous electrical stimulation - TES). TES has been used successfully to treat bladder incontinence and recently constipation. Our study hypothesis is that the addition of TES to multimodal treatment will overcome constipation and allow normal function.

Participant criteria:

  • Children aged four - 18 years

Research Nurse Co-coordinator
Julie Jordan-Ely
Ph: +61 03 9936 6793 
Mob: 0437 971 832

We are conducting a project to help understand the relationship between genes and stuttering. We hope that understanding the causes of speech disorder will help us to develop better treatments.

Who can take part?
We are looking for children and adults with persistent stuttering (stuttering for at least 3 years). We are also interested in people who have a strong family history of stuttering.

What is involved?
In order to participate, we will ask you to complete the following:

Complete a short questionnaire about your birth, developmental and medical history and history of communication problems in your family
Speech pathology assessment at MCRI (parking costs will be reimbursed)
Provide a sample of your blood or saliva so that we can study your DNA to see whether there are common genes that influence the risk of stuttering

If you would like further information about the project, please contact:

Olivia van Reyk
Murdoch Children's Research Institute
Phone: (03) 9936 6334

Parents and carers of children with cerebral palsy and typically developing children aged six to 15 years living in Victoria are being invited to participate in a new research study. This study aims to find out

  • The average age Victorian children with and without cerebral palsy learn to ride a bike
  • The proportion of children who ride a bike at all
  • What parents believe helps children to learn to ride a bike and what the difficulties may be.

We want to collect information to support the need for ongoing programs and research about bike riding and children with cerebral palsy. The study involves completing a short survey either via the internet or over the phone.

Who can participate?
If your child with cerebral palsy is able to walk 50m without an aid or assistance and attends a mainstream school, or if you have children that are typically developing, you may be eligible to participate.

For more information on this study and to access the survey, head to:

Please take some time to read the information statement available at the survey website before deciding whether to take part.

Rachel Toovey
Physiotherapist/Research Assistant
Developmental Disability and Rehabilitation Research
Centre for Research Excellence in Cerebral Palsy
Tel: 03 9936 6088

The Centre for Research Excellence in Speech and Language Neurobiology are running a project looking at genetic contributions to speech disorder. This is part of our ongoing commitment to world class research aimed at improving health. In essence, we are studying how genes may be involved in speech disorders in adults and children. We hope that understanding the causes of speech disorder will help us to develop better treatments.

Populations we are particularly focused on at the moment include:

  • Families with a strong history of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)
  • Families with a strong history of stuttering
  • Identical and non-identical twins with CAS, stuttering or severe speech/language disorder

How to get involved
If you or someone you know has a speech disorder (such as childhood apraxia of speech, stuttering) and may be interested in taking part in our project we would love to hear from you.

To receive an information pack or ask questions contact:

Olivia van Reyk 
Ph: 03 9936 6334

Do you have a child with a developmental difficulty or delay? Perhaps they have received a diagnosis such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, or global developmental delay?

If you or your child are interested in participating in research, you might be interested in joining our contact list for the future. The Contacts for Neurodevelopmental Research (CONR) list will collect some information about your child and yourself so that we only send you study information that is likely to be relevant.

Your child can be any age and you do not have to be a patient at The Royal Children's Hospital.

The overall objective of our research is to facilitate research into neurodevelopmental disorders, both for researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute and to increase potential for international collaborations on rare neurodevelopmental disabilities.

For more information, please follow this link:

Shawn Stevenson
Project Officer
03 9345 4673

Are you:

  • Female?
  • Between 18 and 40 years of age?
  • Not pregnant?
  • Interested in exploring how a mother’s genetic make-up may influence a child’s development if she drinks alcohol during pregnancy?

Please join us for a discussion group to talk about future uses of genetic risk information when thinking about alcohol and pregnancy. 

Participants will be asked to attend a focus group for approximately 1.5 hours at one of three locations: Murdoch Children's Research Institute, University of Melbourne, or Campbell Turnbull Library in Brunswick West. As an acknowledgement of your travel costs and time commitment, you will receive a $20 gift voucher.

For more information please contact:

Stephanie Badman
Ph: 8341 6370