Award Reports

Mid-Career Travel Award - Emma Quinn

Emma Quinn photoEmma Quinn was awarded $2500 by the Australasian Epidemiological Association to cover her flights and accommodation at the University of Notre Dame in Broome.

Ngaji Gurrjin! The placement with the Kimberly Population Health Unit (KPHU) came about because of my connections with Prof Jeanette Ward (a public health physician now with Nirrumbuk Corporation) and Ashley Eastwood (KPHU, WA Country Health Service). I took my long service leave to volunteer myself as a visiting epidemiologist with KPHU for 8 weeks during August and September – the best time of year in the Kimberley!! Living on Yawuru country and during this two-way learning opportunity, I further deepened my insight into remote health service provision, particularly partnerships with Aboriginal people and also enjoyed sharing my skills in epidemiology. I hope the staff of KPHU enjoyed the chance to be supported 1:1 to build skills and capacity in surveillance, epidemiology and report writing. In particular, I gave a weekly series of tutorials on the principles and practice of epidemiology, with practical sessions in Excel. I also learnt a great deal from listening to and working with the staff of KPHU, who are all very experienced clinicians and field workers in public health. I gained the most personal and professional insights from working in several communities with KPHU staff on the WHO Trachoma screening program in the east Kimberley.

On a more academic front, Prof Ward also obtained approval from the ABCD National Research Partnership to access de-identified quality assurance audit data on treatment and care of Aboriginal people with ARF/RHD in remote communities across Australia. In collaboration with an Aboriginal health researcher from the University of Sydney and two other epidemiologists, we analysed these data using multiple linear regression to identify system level factors empirically associated with higher levels of clinic delivery of secondary prophylaxis for clients with ARF/RHD. We found that the clinic’s “systematic processes of follow-up” were significantly associated with adherence to secondary prophylaxis. The results of this study have been written up into a peer-reviewed journal article for publication.

Aside from the professional development, the Kimberley region has some of the most amazing, wild and unique country in Australia and it was a privilege to visit and experience it! The country, culture and people all made my time in the Kimberley one of the most fun, inspiring and rewarding trips I’ve ever done in my life! If anyone out there is considering this type of placement, I would be happy to have yarn with them, please feel free to contact me. Galiya Mabu!!

Read more here.

2017 AEA Early-Career International Travel Award Report

Photo3.2Dr Susanna Cramb, Cancer Council Queensland

My main research project is conducting the spatial modelling for an Australian cancer atlas, where we quantify and examine differences in cancer incidence and survival at the small-area level across our nation. Although there are some ‘cancer atlases’ available online for Australia already, these examine only incidence and/or mortality for a smaller range of cancers over larger areas, and for visualisation use readily available products. Hence meeting with international researchers to discuss modelling issues and online cancer atlas visualisations was going to be incredibly beneficial, and AEA facilitated this!

The Early Career Travel award from AEA enabled me to travel to Spain and Portugal. In Madrid I met with researchers from the Cancer and Environmental Epidemiology Unit, National Epidemiology Center, Carlos III Institute of Health who had experience in using similar models and providing online and mobile-enabled cancer atlas visualisations. I then travelled onto Porto for the Geomed 2017 conference, where I gave an invited talk titled: “A new approach to small area cancer survival estimation”, and participated in a pre-conference workshop on spatial and spatio-temporal modelling. Because Geomed gathered together world experts in spatial statistics and epidemiology, the collaborative opportunities were exceptional, and many sessions had direct relevance to my work. It was a privilege to meet several eminent people in the field whose work has influenced my research. It also permitted the opportunity to have a detailed discussion about my work with Duncan Lee (Uni of Glasgow). Before the conference concluded, there were three specific people who stated they would be interested in collaborating on survival models and/or cancer epidemiology. I also gleaned ideas for data sources, greater understanding of current work being undertaken, and even reconnected with fellow Australians from other states who had also travelled to Geomed. This knowledge has already benefitted my own and my PhD student’s research. I am very grateful to AEA for providing funding towards this opportunity which has already been advantageous to my career, and is likely to lead to additional projects in the future. Gracias and Obrigada (thank you in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively).

2016 AEA Mid-Career International Travel Award Report

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


2016 AEA Early Career Researcher Travel Award Report

Zoe Aitken, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne

I used the AEA Early Career Research Travel Award to travel to the United Kingdom in 2016. The award enabled me to attend the Society for Social Medicine Annual Scientific Meeting and the Lancaster Disability Studies Conference, and also supported a month-long collaboration visit at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

I have a particular interest in applying novel epidemiological and statistical analytic methods to improve causal inference in social epidemiology. My research aims to form a better understanding of how socioeconomic circumstances influence the effect of disability acquisition on mental health. The award enabled me to present my research to an international audience of experts in the field of disability as well as an opportunity to discuss methodological approaches with leading researchers in social epidemiology, which directly influenced my thinking and research direction. During my month-long visit at LSHTM, I worked with leading experts in the field of causal inference, attending seminars, discussing my research and working on shared research interests involving propensity scores and causal mediation analyses.

The award was instrumental in facilitating collaborative work with researchers in the United Kingdom which I hope will lead to productive and ongoing research collaborations. It was a very rewarding and invaluable experience and I would like to thank the AEA for making it possible.


Creating connections, sharing knowledge and supporting the Australasian epidemiological community

Follow us