Early Career Researcher Travel Award Report Dr Deirdre Collins2Dr Deirdre Collins, School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, WA

I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working in the field of infectious disease epidemiology. My postdoctoral research is building on the findings of my PhD on the epidemiology of Clostridium difficile infection. I combine state-of-the-art molecular epidemiological data with analysis of demographic and clinical data to understand, from a One Health perspective, how C. difficile is transmitted between people, animals and the environment, and how many hospital-associated infections may actually be attributable to contamination of the exterior environments of hospitals.

The AEA Early Career Research Travel Award allowed me to travel to the beautiful town of Bled in Slovenia to present on my research at the 6th International Clostridium difficile Symposium (ICDS). It was a fantastic experience which allowed me to catch up with international collaborators, thank my PhD examiners in person, and learn about the latest developments and lively debates on diagnosis, management and surveillance of C. difficile infection, all with the beautiful backdrop of Lake Bled and its castle.

After ICDS I attended a short course in “Infectious Disease ‘Omics” at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Over a few days I dramatically increased my skills in working with genomic data and analysing genotypic characteristics of pathogens including C. difficile. It was a pleasure to mingle with the other students of the course who had a diverse array of backgrounds and expertise, which inspired me to analyse my data from new perspectives. It was an invaluable experience and I’m very grateful to the AEA for making it possible.