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Dr Rinku Thapa

Dr Rinku Thapa is a Senior Research Officer in the CAN Research team, with a broad range of experience and skills in the medical field. Based at both Sydney Children’s Hospital at Westmead Hospital and the Brain and Mind Centre, University of Sydney, her research focuses on the associations between heart rate variability, behaviour and mental health in autistic adults and children. 

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Dr Thapa received her medical degree from Odessa State Medical University. She also holds a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil) from the University of Sydney.


Prior to joining the University of Sydney, Dr Thapa practiced medicine at a major hospital in Nepal. She has also worked as a medical officer and medical coordinator at the United Nations.

Dr Thapa is currently involved in the project investigating the role of oxytocin system, cardiac response, and synchrony behavioural mechanism in autistic children under Profs Ian Hickie and Adam Guastella.

Alongside her work on heart rate variability, Dr Thapa supports the management and coordination of multiple sponsored and investigator-led trials at the CAN Research clinic.  

Research interests

Research interests include:

- Social behaviour

- Heart rate variability in autistic adults and children 

- Oxytocin systems

Publication highlights

Griffin, Z. A., Boulton, K. A., Thapa, R., DeMayo, M. M., Ambarchi, Z., Thomas, E., ... & Guastella, A. J. (2022). Atypical sensory processing features in children with autism, and their relationships with maladaptive behaviors and caregiver strain. Autism Research.

DeMayo, M. M., Pokorski, I., Song, Y. J., Thapa, R., Patel, S., Ambarchi, Z., ... & Guastella, A. J. (2022). The feasibility of magnetic resonance imaging in a non-selective comprehensive clinical trial in pediatric autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 52(3), 1211-1222.

Thapa, R., Pokorski, I., Ambarchi, Z., Thomas, E., Demayo, M., Boulton, K., ... & Guastella, A. J. (2021). Heart rate variability in children with autism spectrum disorder and associations with medication and symptom severity. Autism Research, 14(1), 75-85.

DeMayo, M. M., Harris, A. D., Song, Y. J. C., Pokorski, I., Thapa, R., Patel, S., ... & Guastella, A. J. (2021). Age‐related parietal GABA alterations in children with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 14(5), 859-872.

Demetriou, E., Boulton, K.A., Bowden M.,Thapa, R,  & Guastella, A. J (2021). An evaluation of homesickness in children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 297, 463-470.

Thapa, R., Alvares, G. A., Zaidi, T. A., Thomas, E. E., Hickie, I. B., Park, S. H., & Guastella, A. J. (2019). Reduced heart rate variability in adults with autism spectrum disorder. Autism Research, 12(6), 922-930.


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