Member Award Reports

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.

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.