Australasian Epidemiological Association News

Dr Duong T. Tran, Centre for Big Data Research in Health, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney

In 2016, I was fortunate to be awarded the AEA Mid-Career International Travel Award to attend the pharmacoepidemiology courses at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. My current research program investigates the utilisation and safety of smoking cessation pharmacotherapies and other medicines among almost 800,000 mothers in New South Wales and Western Australia and their babies. The research program used perinatal data (2003-2013) linked to PBS claims and other health administrative data collections. Training in advanced pharmacoepidemiology is not currently available in Australia, and the McGill courses are regarded as the best in the field internationally. The Award enabled me to attend both intermediate and advanced courses (15-26 May 2017), during which I learnt methodological challenges arising from the use of routine dispensing data in pharmacoepidemiology research studies as well as techniques to address these issues. Knowledge gained through the courses was immediately applied in my current data analyses and translated into feedback provided to my research students. In a longer term, advanced skills in pharmacoepidemiology will equip me with tools required by next-generation epidemiologists to make the most of ‘big data’. With the burgeoning availability of prescribing data (through linked PBS data, electronic health records, and general practice datasets such as NPS MedicineInsight), competency in pharmacoepidemiological methods will increasingly be required not only for research focussing on medication safety, but for a wide range of observational studies where medicine use may be a mediating or confounding factor. During the course, I also met researchers from other international institutions. The AEA Award has been incredibly valuable in broadening knowledge, skills and opportunities for collaboration. I would like to thank the Australasian Epidemiological Association for continued support for early and mid-career researchers.

Participants at the Intermediate course