2016 Duguid travel scholarship

18 May 2016

Darren Westphal is a second year Masters of Philosophy in Applied Epidemiology scholar at NCEPH. He shares his field placement in Western Australia between the Communicable Disease Control Directorate, Public Health Division, WA Department of Health and the Wesfarmers Centre for Vaccines and Infectious Diseases at the Telethon Kids Institute.

Darren was the successful recipient of the Duguid Travel Scholarship.

This scholarship enabled Darren to present two papers at the European Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases (ESPID) annual conference in Brighton UK from 10-13 May 2016.

The first paper discussed vaccine safety monitoring using SMS technology. In addition, he reported the epidemiological aspects of the largest mumps outbreak in Australia since the introduction of the mumps vaccine in 1981. This outbreak has disproportionately affected remote Aboriginal Western Australians (88%). A matched case-control study to ascertain vaccine effectiveness in this population was conducted and presented at the ESPID conference.

The talks were both very well attended with important discussions during and after the session. Darren was particularly excited to set up a meeting at the conference with Professor Stanley Plotkin, the editor of Vaccines, 6th Ed., and developer of the rubella vaccine, to discuss the outbreak in more detail with particular emphasis on why Aboriginal Australians were disproportionately affected.

Darren’s attendance at the conference raised awareness of the Australian field epidemiology training program at NCEPH and highlighted the high quality of research conducted.