Elite Editing is very pleased to announce that the winner of the 2014 Thesis Write-up Scholarship is Lauren Rice. Ms Rice is completing a PhD entitled ‘Understanding the Nature of Temper Outbursts in Prader-Willi Syndrome’ at the Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, under the supervision of Professor Stewart Einfeld, Professor Patricia Howlin, Associate Professor Jim Lagopoulos and Dr Kate Woodcock.
As part of her scholarship, Ms Rice will receive financial assistance from Elite Editing while writing up her thesis, amounting to $1,000 per fortnight for 12 weeks ($6,000 total, tax free).
Elite Editing would like to thank all students who took the time to apply for the scholarship—applications were of an extremely high standard and we wish you all the best in completing your theses. Below is Ms Rice’s abstract:
Prader Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetic neurodevelopmental disability that leads to excessive eating, temper outbursts, skin picking, mood fluctuations, compulsive behaviours and difficulty with changes in routine. Severe temper outbursts are unique to PWS in that, unlike any other known disorders, they are found in up to 91% of the population and persist well into adulthood. Despite being a leading cause of stress for families, outbursts have received little research attention. This research, which consists of four studies, aims to increase understanding of PWS outbursts. For study one, a pilot study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals with PWS and their primary carers to gain first-hand insight into the nature of outbursts. Study two involved the development of a temper outburst survey that was completed by 105 primary carers of a person with PWS, providing a thorough description of the nature of PWS outbursts and direction for improving management strategies. One important theme raised in the pilot study by 70% of participants was that, unlike temper tantrums displayed by typically developing children, once a person with PWS starts to become distressed, it is impossible to intervene to diffuse the temper outburst; rather, one must wait for the outburst to run its course. Study three, a clinical trial, conducted in part by the author of this thesis, found that oxytocin increased temper outbursts in PWS. These findings suggest that there is likely a biological abnormality that predisposes people with PWS to outbursts. Therefore, the fourth study explores the PWS brain for potential abnormalities that may be specific to outbursts by comparing the brains of 12 individuals with PWS to 12 typically developing age-matched controls and 12 people with an intellectual disability of an unknown cause. This will be the first study to use MRS to investigate GABA, glutamate and glutamine in the PWS brain and will provide a foundational understanding of the PWS brain for future research.