What are you aiming to achieve through your research?
Australia is very lucky to have high rates of childhood vaccination. Because of this, we benefit from something called ‘herd immunity’, which means that even unvaccinated children and adults are protected from disease.
One of these vaccines is the pneumococcal vaccine – which protects against a major cause of pneumonia, meningitis, and septicaemia. My research is about understanding how many people need to receive the pneumococcal vaccine to achieve this herd immunity in low and middle income country settings, specifically Laos, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea. These countries often struggle to achieve high rates of vaccination with limited resources.
Another important part of my work is about sharing my research skills with our overseas collaborators, who may not have had access to the excellent educational opportunities that are available to us here in Australia.
What made you interested in child health research and what led you to pursue it full time?
As a medical student, I undertook a research project with MCRI’s Centre for International Child Health (CICH). There’s an amazing group of researchers here who showed me the potential for research to improve the lives of children worldwide in a sustainable and ethical way.
Doing research in global health allows us to understand why some children are more likely to get sick or die compared to others, and find out how interventions such as vaccines or training of health workers can improve the health of children.
How did you end up at MCRI?
After working as a junior doctor for two years, I decided I wanted to specialise in public health, so the research I am currently doing is part my training. After completing a Masters of Philosophy in Applied Epidemiology, I spent some time working overseas and then joined the CICH team at MCRI as PhD student.
What do you love about working at MCRI?
The researchers in my team work on a range of incredibly interesting and important projects. Some examples include providing and evaluating paediatric and neonatal training in Laos and the Solomon Islands, setting up and evaluating oxygen systems in Nigeria, and understanding the impact of pollution on childhood pneumonia in Mongolia. I feel very fortunate to be working as part of this team.
What made you want to study within the infection and immunity field?
While deaths due to infectious diseases among children are rare in Australia, they are still common in many parts of the world. They also tend to affect those of us who are most vulnerable, such as infants and elderly.