Member Award Reports

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.

2015 AEA Early Career Researcher Travel Award Report, Dr Katy Bell

2015 AEA Early Career Researcher Travel Award
Dr Katy Bell, Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney

In 2015 I was very fortunate to be awarded an AEA ECR Travel Award. This award enabled me to travel to the University of Auckland, New Zealand to meet with Professor Rod Jackson and the researchers involved in ‘Vascular Informatics Using Epidemiology and the Web (VIEW)’. As a result of meeting with Rod and the team, we are now embarking on a number of collaborative research projects involving epidemiologists and statisticians in Sydney, Auckland and Gold Coast. These include the original project I proposed for the travel award -to investigate the clinical usefulness of long term risk prediction equations, as well as further projects examining ways to account for drop-in and drop-out treatment effects when developing contemporary risk equations, and the potential for new highly sensitive troponin tests to lead to Over-diagnosis and Over-treatment. The Travel Award has been incredibly helpful in facilitating what is certain to be a long term and productive collaboration.

2015 IEA-AEA Exchange Award - Recipient Reports

REPORT BY: MRS JYOTISHNA MUDALIAR International Epidemiological Association (IEA) - Western Pacific and Australasian
Epidemiology Association (AEA)
Exchange Awards 2015

I would like to thank the IEA for this travel grant to undertake Professional Development Program at the University of Sydney and University of Auckland in the month of May, 2016. The overall aim of this initiative was to provide a small grant for stimulation and support of collaboration and exchange activities between Australia and New Zealand and a lower middle income country in the Region.

The targeted objectives and achievements of utilization of this initiate are as follows:

Objective 1: Enhance existing IEA-AEA inter- country collaborations and stimulate new collaboration.

I was able to enhance existing IEA – AEA inter-country collaborations though visiting the following Universities and meeting with collaborators on current clinical and health research projects:

a) University of Sydney: Dr Camille Raynes-Greenow and A/Prof Kirsten Black and other team members.
b) University of Auckland: Dr Bridget Kool, Judith McCool and Jalal Mohammed

I was also able to meet with professionals from the following administrative offices at the University of Sydney which was facilitated by Dr Camille Raynes-Greenow, A/Prof Kirsten Black and Ms Danielle Somers from the Office of Global Health.

  1. Kerrie Henderson: University Policy Manager Policy Management Unit, Office of GeneralCounsel in regards to Policy development process at an academic institution
  2. Andrew Black: Director, Research Development and Collaboration
  3. Andrew Morison : International Development Coordinator (Japan, Korea & Pacific, Office of Global Engagement
  4. George Carayannopoulos: Manager, Office of Research & Research Training, Sydney Medical School
  5. Rebekah, Senior Lecturer, University of Sydney in regards to providing assistance to students and research capacity building for Pharmacy faculty at the Fiji National University.

Objective 2: Build epidemiologic capacity and advance epidemiology

At both universities I received mentoring support and learnt how to use SPSS software and data cleaning to carry out data analysis for collaborative epidemiological studies.

I have worked on a collaborative clinical research project with A/Prof Kirsten Black from University of Sydney, and this study was based at the Antenatal Clinic at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital which is the main national referral hospital for Fiji. We recruited 2200 women at antenatal and followed up women post-delivery with the rate of 72%. Due to lack skills and expertise in data analysis within the local team which caused delay in the project completion and write up, A/Prof Kirsten as a mentor and investigator was requested for assistance. Together with A/Prof Kirsten Black and Dr Camille Raynes-Greenow I am conducting the data analysis and preparing my first publications.

Objective 3: Advance career through new and existing mentoring relationships

I received guidance and mentoring support from both the universities in the area of writing for publications and was able to prepare and submit abstracts from existing collaborative research projects to the following conferences:

a) RANZCOG. Abstract Titled: “Prevalence of overweight and obesity and sociodemographic associations amongst antenatal mothers at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital, Fiji”. Authors: Mudaliar J, Nusair P, Rouse I Melville P , McCudden L, Raynes-Greenow C Black K
b) The Pacifica Medical Association (PMA). Abstract titled: “Building research capacities and capabilities in Fiji: Are we there yet?” Authors: Jyotishna Mudaliar, Bridget Kool, Janice Natasha, Judith McCool

I also had an opportunity to attend team research meeting with Camille and Kirsten and to listen to 3 PhD students presentation of their research updates.


Advanced Field Research Methods Short Course, (Data collection methods, data analysis approaches and results reporting)

The International Epidemiological Association Exchange Award enabled me to attend a two day Advanced Field Research Methods Short Course conducted by Associate Professor Elizabeth Hoban, Associate Professor Jo Williams and Dr Jan Moore of the School of Health and Social Development from Deakin University in November 2015.

The workshop was very hands-on, and provided very useful and practical advice about research methods and their application, and provided plenty of opportunities for practice. I gained new insights into the analysis of qualitative data sets, reporting on the findings and preparing clear, targeted presentations to policymakers and health practitioners. The course was really useful because it gave me the opportunity to learn from various research disciplines working in different settings in Australia that had come together to interact and share ideas on how qualitative research can be managed. The knowledge and skills gained at this short course have prepared me to be a contact person in the Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases (C-POND) office where I am based in Suva in Fiji. I am now able to guide and assist staff on the collection, management and analysis of data associated with a range of C-POND projects; guide the design and implementation of future research project proposals; and make clear, targeted presentations advocating for change around pressing public health issues such as Non-Communicable Diseases.

As a recipient of the IEA/AEA: Western Pacific Region – Exchange Award, I would like to thank Professor Tony Lamontagne and the IEA organizing committee for giving me this opportunity as well as Professor Marj Moodie for assisting me in the process. This award was very important to C-POND because as a self-funded team of young researchers, we are constrained in terms of opportunities to attend short courses abroad.