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.