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Dr. Alice Rumbold Senior Research Fellow The University of Adelaide.

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Presentation on theme: "Dr. Alice Rumbold Senior Research Fellow The University of Adelaide."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dr. Alice Rumbold Senior Research Fellow The University of Adelaide

2  Adelaide born and bred  Full time health science researcher  32 years old  When in high school.... no idea about what I wanted to do! About me

3 How did I get here? 1995 Finished High School Bachelor of Science HonoursTravelPhDPostdoctoral research Research Fellow ‘ ’01-05‘ Music Maths Physics Chemistry History Biology Anatomy Psychology Biological Anthropology Reproductive health Indigenous women’s health Women’s & children’s health

4  Studied science...didn’t want to narrow my field too early..  General science degree was a good choice for me because it is broad - can open up a range of career pathways – Research, teaching, industries like agriculture, defence, food technology and pharmaceuticals. Why?

5  Spent one year doing a research project (because the real world was too scary!)  During this project I realised... – There is so much we don’t know about health and how the body works and why disease occurs – So much opportunity for new discoveries in science  Knowing that these opportunities for new discovery exist continues to drive me to do research today and in the future  Opportunity to make a real difference to individuals and communities Why?

6  Looking at patterns of health problems in a population AND  Using this information to help control the health problem  Involves elements of medicine/health, biology, maths, environmental studies  The ‘science of people’ What my research involves

7  Why are certain cancers much higher amongst Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory compared with other Australian women?  Can we improve the care Aboriginal women receive when they are pregnant?  Does a woman’s diet during pregnancy ‘program’ the health of her child (in childhood and adulthood) Research questions

8  Why are certain cancers much higher amongst Aboriginal women in the Northern Territory compared with other Australian women?  Can we improve the care Aboriginal women receive when they are pregnant?  Does a woman’s diet during pregnancy ‘program’ the health of her child (in childhood and adulthood) Research questions

9  Reports from doctors working in the NT that they were seeing lots of Aboriginal women with gynaecological cancers, including some of the rarer types of cancers  Most of the women diagnosed appeared to live in a certain area on the north-east coast of the NT  Do these cancers occur more often in Aboriginal women living in these areas, and if so, why? Background

10  Collect of records (notifications) of cancer in the NT  Examine the rate of cancer based on geographic region and ethnicity  Are the rates the same as the rate in the total Australian population? Step 1

11 Rate (amount) of cancer by region in the NT per 100,000

12 Rate (amount) of cancer by region in the NT per 100,000 Identified a cancer cluster

13  Some gynaecological cancer is caused by infection with a common virus known as human papillomavirus (HPV), so.....  Is there more HPV infection amongst women living in the area where there is a high rate of cancer? Why?

14 Step 2. What this kind of research involves

15 Fieldwork

16

17 Team work – local, national & international

18 Collecting and analysing biological samples in a laboratory to identify the presence of infections such as human papillomavirus Examining women and checking health records

19  Use maths to determine if the amount of infection found is more or less common than what is seen in the Australian population overall  Apply this knowledge to determine whether: – Infection is the primary cause of this cluster, and whether the HPV vaccine will prevent the cancer in future generations – Or the high rates are caused by something else, for example, something in the environment Analysing Information

20  Many health problems don’t affect all groups of people equally.... so, by determining which groups of people are more or less affected by a disease we can identify clues to its causes  Monitor trends in diseases  Determine priorities  Identify emerging health issues Why study patterns of disease?

21  Mapping the swine flu (H1N1) epidemic  Where did it originate?  How fast is it spreading?  How many deaths occurred?  Other applications

22 Patterns in major causes of deaths in Australia, 1907 to 2003 Source: AIHW Mortality over the twentieth century in Australia: Trends and patterns in major causes of death. Mortality Surveillance Series no. 4. AIHW cat. no. PHE73. Canberra: AIHW.

23  Sharing ideas... about problems and solutions  Respecting everyone’s opinions  Planning activities and carrying them out in a systematic way to test new ideas  Knowing when things don’t work  Flexibility  Passing on knowledge Research culture

24  Opportunities for discovery  Variety (fieldwork, teams, data analysis not just about working in a laboratory)  Flexibility  Travel Why work in health research?

25 Where has my work taken me?

26  A Science Degree can be a passport to a career in a wide range of fieldspassport  Take me for example!  General science & maths ►health sciences ► health research ►women’s health – working with Aboriginal communities Studying Science


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