Current position and who with
Centre Manager of the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation, and Program Leader for Health Services Research at QUT.
What is your area of expertise?
I’m a molecular geneticist by background, but my expertise is really the strategic management of large scale research programs. Since working for AusHSI I’ve also grown my interest in Implementation Science
How did you get started in HSR?
I became quite disillusioned with the enormous disconnect between the lab bench and patient (sure, finding that gene that confers an additional 0.5% risk factor for familial melanoma got me a Nature Genetics publication…. But how and WHEN will that discovery help anyone?). So I took a career shift and ended up working with Nick Graves’ group at QUT managing HSR.
What was the first project you worked on and where?
My first independent research project was a trial of environmental factors (sunlight, heat, rain) on the degradation of DNA extracted from semen and blood samples, whilst doing my honours at the Qld Health Forensic Biology Lab (very body farm)! My first HSR project was at QUT, managing the evaluation of the ACSQHC’s national hand hygiene initiative, a 3 year NHMRC Partnership Grant.
What are some of the key projects you are currently working on?
We are evaluating 30 projects funded by Qld Health through their $35M Integrated Care Innovation Fund. We’re running a HSR funding round for the Children’s Hospital Foundation Qld to help them select strong HSR projects and then provide the clinical researchers with health economic and implementation support. We’re working with a large health service to develop a bespoke Graduate Certificate in Health Services Innovation, with additional mentoring and on-the-ground support.
Career highlights so far?
When I started working at QUT it was with a group of about 4 post-docs and students – 6 years later AusHSI now has 45 and is still growing. I’m proud to have been a part of that expansion of HSR in Qld.
Who has had the biggest influence over your career to date? Have you had any important mentors?
I had an amazing mentor when I first started in science – she was very pedantic, and taught me the importance of doing things properly the first time so that you can be confident in your own results (very important as a bench researcher). She also encouraged young women researchers and built our confidence by giving us opportunities to lead.
What’s next for you in your career? What are you looking forward to?
Who knows, we work in research! Might be out of a job come June! I’d like to think I’ll continue building skills, capacity and appetite within health services for using implementation science. And I want to see AusHSI as the go-to group for health services research, training, and evaluation in Qld.
What was your motivation for becoming involved with the HSRAANZ?
Our group is very collaborative. Being involved with HSRAANZ is a natural way to connect with like-minded researchers.
What do you see as the most important goal or greatest challenge for the Association over the next few years?
Making Health Services Research a priority investment for the Medical Research Future Fund.
What do you think is the best way of having an influence on policy?
Being consistent in the quality of evidence produced, presenting it in a manner that’s relevant and understandable to decision-makers, and meaningful engagement with those making policy decisions (it’s still who you know, over what you know).
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the HSR?
Take the time to more broadly understand the context of what it is you’re researching. Health is a complex adaptive system and one of the reasons decision makers are so reticent to implement change is the flow-on affect that can have. Understand where it fits, and engage with those who will benefit from your research so it is end-user driven. That will increase your chances of doing relevant research.
What do you get up to when you are not conducting research?
Time managing my two primary school aged girls and conveying them to a million extracurricular activities! I am a taxi mum!