A CAREER THAT COUNTS
Translating medical research into government policy and industry action.
BY SUE MIN LIU
After five years as a medical officer at Auckland City Hospital in New Zealand, Dr Jannah Baker chose to move into public health research and biostatistics.
“I wanted to make a difference to the bigger picture,” she says.
During her PhD at QUT, Jannah studied patterns in health outcomes, which can be used to identify risk factors and help re-allocate resources. Jannah’s medical research revealed significant geographical variation in the outcomes of patients with type II diabetes in Queensland, and highlighted the need for closer monitoring of patient groups in lower socioeconomic areas.
Jannah used a statistical method called Bayesian hierarchical modelling, which combines existing scientific knowledge with new data to determine risk factors and predict disease outcomes.
“Bayesian modelling is very good for exploratory analysis,” says Jannah. It can explore complex scenarios by integrating different sets of variables and running millions of simulations – whereas traditional models only test one parameter.
Jannah’s PhD supervisor, Professor Kerrie Mengersen, is a global leader in Bayesian statistics and built a hub for this type of research at QUT.
QUT is one of five Australian universities offering the Industry Doctoral Training Centre program, which focuses on industry collaborations and combines PhD research with professional and technical training. Through this program, Jannah developed skills ranging from traditional academic abilities to entrepreneurship and research commercialisation.
Now a Research Fellow, Jannah is working with organisations like NSW Health and Sydney Medical School to translate research findings into action.
“I wanted to make a difference to the bigger picture.”
BUILDING THE JAGUAR CORRIDOR
Professor Kerrie Mengersen from QUT’s School of Mathematical Sciences leads a team of researchers who have pioneered a visionary project to help ensure the survival of threatened jaguars in the wild jungles of Peru.
Their work makes use of statistics, mathematical modelling, virtual technology, and knowledge from Indigenous people living in the Amazon.
“Learning about where jaguars live and the pressures from mining, logging and other human interaction helps us build mathematical and statistical models to make informed decisions,” says Kerrie.
The main goal of the project was to identify potential habitats to build the Peruvian leg of a ‘jaguar corridor’ so the animals could safely roam, feed and breed.
Author: STEM Contributor
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