Allergic asthma is an important chronic disease currently posing serious public health issues in Australia with associated medical, economic, and societal burden. Melbourne is considered as one of the prime locations for thunderstorm asthma outbreaks in Australia. after the 2016 thunderstorm asthma episode in Victoria, the Victorian government is planning to launch a major public health campaign during the first week of September 2017 to increase the awareness of thunderstorm asthma and asking at-risk people to see their doctor or pharmacist before the grass pollen season hits.
The project will focus on a specific climate change public health impact process with a view to identifying climatic impacts (thunderstorms, along with rain, temperature, wind, humidity, wind direction etc) on asthma attacks triggered by grass pollen, known to regularly affect up to three million Australians. The epidemiological and public health application of this PhD will be specifically to apply various traditional and also new methods of time series data mining and visualisation to detect thunderstorm asthma events in Victoria and nationally - in relation to multiple data sources of data, including emergency department presentations (from Epworth Hospital in the first instance), to meteorological data (from the BoM) and other environmental data (e.g., pollen counts) from collaborators at Macquarie University, at Vic Parks and the University of Melbourne. This project has the potential to add to knowledge of impacts of climate change on human health, and to contribute to the AusPollen project to help provide allergy and asthma patients with accurate, relevant, and in time localised and temporal information on pollen counts.
The project will be supervised by Professor Irene Hudson at the SDSE and Dr. Madawa Weerasinghe Jayawar at SDSE and members of Epworth Hospital. Prospective applicants should contact supervisors to express interest.