Asia Pacific women researchers in mosquito-borne diseases build collaborative network

Ten scientists, clinicians and public health managers from the Asia Pacific will take part in a QUT-hosted, two-week Australia Awards Fellowship with the aim of building a collaborative network of women researchers in transmission of mosquito-borne viruses.

  • Our region at risk of mosquito-borne disease epidemics as climate changes
  • Australian government-funded fellowship for 10 women from seven Asia Pacific countries who are scientists, clinicians or public health managers to make up a collaborative scientific workforce.

The Australian Government-funded fellowship was initiated by QUT Associate Professor Francesca Frentiu, from the School of Biomedical Sciences, who said tropical mosquito-borne viruses cause epidemics in the Asia Pacific.

“Viruses such as dengue, Japanese encephalitis, Zika and chikungunya have enormous detrimental effects on public health and economic development,” Professor Frentiu said.

“The disease burden of these viruses is predicted to increase as climate change accelerates.

“Addressing this public health challenge in our region requires a highly skilled and collaborative scientific workforce.

“The Fellowship is designed to create a collaborative network of women researchers and health professionals from the Asia-Pacific to work on joint solutions to the looming public health threat.

“Building sustainable people-to-people links is critical to keeping lines of communication open during transborder health crises, such as pandemics.”

Participants come from New Caledonia (Dr Olivia O’Connor and Dr Myrielle Dupont), Indonesia (Dr Marsha Santoso and Frilasita Yudhaputri), Vietnam (Dr Tran Thi Hai Ninh and Dr Nguyen Thi Thuy), Philippines (Dr Ann Belvis and Prof Frances Edillo), Vanuatu (Joanne Mariasua) and Sri Lanka (Dr R.D.J Harishchandra).

“Each Fellow brings a unique and highly valuable perspective as to the research needs, challenges and priorities in their country,” Professor Frentiu said.

“We will identify research areas for our region that are critical to preparing for and mitigating the impact of climate change on public health and share scientific skills which the participants will amplify through presentations in their home institutions.

“A further aim is a focus on gender equity to enhance the research capacity, professional development and leadership opportunities of women working in the field of tropical mosquito-borne viruses.

“We will produce a poster on the Fellowship project to display at a conference and a scientific paper to be submitted to an international, highly respected, peer-reviewed journal.

“All Fellows will be involved in this scientific paper and all will be authors.

“Authorship of peer-reviewed publications is key to career advancement in science globally.

“International peer-reviewed publications – such as we plan here – attract particular prestige and can have additional career advancement benefits.”

“Additionally, participation in the Australia Awards Fellowship enhances the professional profile of each Fellow.”

Australia Awards Fellowships:

Australia Awards are prestigious Scholarships, Fellowships and short courses funded by the Australian Government.

Australia Awards Fellowships build capacity and strengthen partnerships between Australian organisations and partner organisations in eligible developing countries in support of key development and foreign affairs priorities. By providing short-term study, research and professional development opportunities in Australia, mid-career professionals and emerging leaders can tap into Australian expertise, gaining valuable skills and knowledge.

Image: from left: Frilasita Yudhaputri, Dr R.D.J Harishchandra, Dr Myrielle Dupont, Dr Tran Thi Hai Ninh, Dr Ann Belvis, Joanne Mariasua, Dr Marsha Santoso, Dr Olivia O’Connor. Front row, from left: Dr Nguyen Thi Thuy, Associate Professor Francesca Frentiu, Professor Frances Edillo.

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