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In 2015 the Jacka Foundation awarded three postgraduate scholarships. All students are enrolled in the School of Health Sciences at RMIT University, which generously offered a 50:50 funding arrangement with JFNT. The recipients and their projects are:

  1. The Judy Jacka Scholarship for Doctoral Research was awarded to Dr Joy Hussein MD for a PhD project titled Repeated Sauna Therapy – investigating the benefits, risks, and potential mechanisms of action in terms of health, wellness, and its effects on bioaccumulated levels of environmental toxicants/ xenobiotics in humans using metabolomics analysis
  2. The Alf Jacka Postgraduate Research Scholarship was awarded to Ms Nicole Bijlsma for a Masters degree project titled Environmental Chemical Assessment in Clinical Practice: Uncloaking the elephant in the room.
  3. The Jacka Foundation Research Training Scholarship was awarded to Ms Lauren Burns for her project Investigating the effects of pesticides on human neurocognitive function and physiological performance. 

Update 2018-2019

Dr Joy Hussein

Title of Research Project
Study of Whole Body Thermotherapy (Dry Sauna) in Human Health and Wellness

PhD Abstract
Worldwide many people sauna-bathe routinely for reported health benefits but the medical evidence to support these practices has not been well established. Repeated sauna bathing, or whole-body thermotherapy, involving short-term exposures to elevated environmental temperatures with or without increased humidity levels leads to physiologic responses that involve increased sweating and likely hormetic stress-related metabolic responses that may be developed for clinical applications.

Publications derived from the project

Hussain, J.N., Cohen, M.M. (2018). Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Full text available at: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/aip/1857413/

Hussain, J. N., Mantri, N., & Cohen, M. M. (2017). Working Up a Good Sweat – The Challenges of Standardising Sweat Collection for Metabolomics Analysis. The Clinical Biochemist Reviews, 38(1), 13–34. Full text available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5548369/


Nicole Bijlsma – PhD Candidate (Masters converted to PhD 2017)

Title of Research Project
Environmental Medicine

PhD Abstract
Nicole's research initially explored the impact of toxicants on human health. She then conducted a qualitative survey of expert clinicians in the field of environmental medicine to identify how they test and treat patients with complex chronic illnesses arising from long term exposure to environmental toxicants. The outcome of the study revealed (amongst other things) that an exposure history tool was the most important clinical tool. She then conducted a double blind, cross over randomised control trial investigating the impact of radio frequencies on healthy adults' sleep and brain function.

Publications derived from the Project

Bijlsma N, 2020. 'Environmental Medicine' in Hechtman L, Advanced Clinical Naturopathic Medicine, Chapter 2. Elsevier.

Bijlsma N, Cohen MM, 2018. Expert clinician’s perspectives on environmental medicine and toxicant assessment in clinical practice. Environ Health Prev Med. 23:19. Available at: https://environhealthprevmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12199-018-0709-0

Bijlsma, N and Cohen MM. (2016). Environmental chemical assessment in clinical practice – Unveiling the elephant in the room. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(2):181. Available at: http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/13/2/181


Lauren Burns – PhD Candidate (Masters converted to PhD 2017)

Title of Research Project
Lifestyle Strategies and Elite Performance

Overview of Research Project

The project consists of two major components:

1. Lifestyle Practices of Elite Athletes (completed interviews)
Ten world, olympic and paralympic champions were interviewed about their lifestyle practices. The results have shown emergent themes in 3 main areas:
Psychological Aspects (intrinsic motivation, work ethic, dominance and visualisation), Lifestyle and Performance Strategies, and Interpersonal Relationships.

2. Clinical research on the effect of organic food and herbal beverages on human neurocognitive function, performance and metabolism.

The following story about Lauren and her project appeared in the 2019 edition of RMIT’s donor magazine Impact:
Golden opportunity: from Olympic medallist to PhD researcher. https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2019/jun/lauren-burns-olympic-medallist

Publications derived from the Project

Burns L, Weissensteiner JR, Cohen M, 2019. Supportive interpersonal relationships: a key component to high-performance sport. Br J Sports Med 0:1–4. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-100312

This publication earned the RMIT Vice-Chancellor's Prize for Research Impact - Higher Degree by Research in 2019 - Well done Lauren!

Burns L, Weissensteiner JR, Cohen M, 2018. Lifestyles and mindsets of Olympic, Paralympic and world champions: is an integrated approach the key to elite performance? Br J Sports Med 0:1–8. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2018-099217 


Applications for JFNT scholarships are currently closed. The next round of scholarships will be advised on this website when open for application.