Latest News

Integrating Cash Transfer and Nutrition Promotion With Mobile pilot workshop

30 June 2015

Mr Tanvir Huda (PhD student from the Sydney School of Public Health) and his supervisor, Professor Michael Dibley are currently in Seattle, USA, for the Gates Xcelerator pilot workshops.   They received a Grand Challenges Exploration (GCE) grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in round 12, entitled Integrating Cash Transfer and Nutrition Promotion With Mobile. The project aims to improve care and nutrition for pregnant women and young children through developing a cost effective cell phone based delivery platform within the existing health system of Bangladesh, by integrating counseling and communications about care with cash transfers.

The GCE initiative fosters innovation in global health research by helping scientists around the world explore bold and largely unproven ways to improve health in developing countries. Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have been awarded to innovative, early-stage projects in more than 50 countries.

Tanvir and Michael were invited to the GCE Xcelerator training workshop as part of the VentureWell pipeline, which is a higher education network cultivating revolutionary ideas and promising inventions. The training workshop will address complexities of implementation and new ways to approach the developing and up-scaling of innovative ideas to reduce maternal and child malnutrition in Bangladesh. It will also cover content related to framing global health, market validation and sustainability and risk assessments.

The project is focused on a community-based platform for nutritional education and promotion, which is recognized as a key strategy to combat maternal and child under nutrition. However, an insufficient numbers of health workers, poor supply chain management, financial, social, and cultural barriers pose difficult challenges to achieve high coverage of nutrition specific interventions that often depend on changing nutrition related behaviors. There is evidence that financial incentives have been found to be effective in overcoming several of these barriers. Providing educational and health promotion messages through mobile phones are also getting increasing attention. In Bangladesh, the nationwide coverage of mobile network, availability of cheap hand sets and decreasing cost of call rate, makes it the most attractive media to reach every section of the community. The mobile phone will act both as the medium for nutrition counseling and cash transfer. A trained field health worker will counsel each pregnant woman over mobile phone on a range of nutrition issues on a weekly basis. For first time mothers and mothers with no education, the health worker will make a home visit and show video messages on different health and nutrition issues, recommendations on best practices by a lady doctor, link diagrams and videos with flip chart messages using her own cell phone. The study estimates a single health worker can provide phone counseling to at least 200 pregnant women every month.

Cash transfer and community based counseling are two effective nutrition interventions that have successfully promoted healthy behaviors in many pilot settings. It is believed that this innovative delivery platform by integrating these two interventions with mobile phone has got very high probability to produce the desired impact and the potential to achieve high coverage in Bangladesh and elsewhere in similar settings.

Tanvir and Michael’s participation in the Xcelerator workshop will provide training and mentoring on commercialization and venture development to GCE grantees to rapidly advance their innovations, and support them in reaching impact and scale. The workshop is a three day immersive educational experience that addresses the complexities of implementing new technology in the developing world.

Strengthening research collaboration: maternal and child malnutrition in Indonesia

29 June 2015

Through funding obtained from the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre (SSEAC) Regional Mobility Fund, Professor Michael Dibley and Dr Neeloy Alam were able to invite Dr Christiana Rialine Titaley and Dr Min Kyaw Htet to the Sydney School of Public Health from 18th May – 5th June 2015.

The purpose of this visit was to strengthen existing collaboration on the research project in Indonesia entitled: "Effectiveness of an integrated program to reduce maternal and child malnutrition in Indonesia”.

Christiana Titaley is an alumnus of the Sydney Medical School and an early career researcher on the research project, funded by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). This project arose from the flourishing collaboration between the Sydney School of Public Health and the University of Indonesia, South East Asians Ministers of Education Organization, Regional Center for Food and Nutrition (SEAMEO-RECFON), and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Min Kyaw Htet is also an early career investigator on the project and completed his PhD at the SEAMEO-RECFON in Jakarta, and is now working partly with SEAMEO-RECFON and Trisakti University.

The focus of the proposed research activities are to analyse the baseline data (quantitative and qualitative), produce an outline of the manuscript and to plan the next research steps, including evaluation of the program impact pathway and development for new collaborative research projects. The rich baseline data included knowledge, attitudes and practices of mothers regarding breastfeeding and infant young child feeding, health seeking behaviours, use of maternal and health care services, food security in the household, as well as anthropometric measurement of both children under two years old and pregnant women in Sidoarjo and Malang District of East Java Province, Indonesia. This visit provided a valuable opportunity to work closely and learn about advanced quantitative and qualitative data analysis under the supervision of Professor Dibley, and other experts from Sydney School of Public Health. It also strengthened collaboration between the University of Sydney and Universities in Indonesia and SEAMEO-RECFON.

The team looks forward to continuing the development of joint research, grant applications, training programs and publications, and thus establish a sustainable partnership.

Welcome to PhD student Ms Meilin Tan

L to R: Dr Kevin Wang and Ms Meilin Tan.

24 June 2015

The University of Sydney’s Office for Global Health and Office of Global Engagement welcomed Ms Meilin Tan, a PhD student, from the 'Glutamate Receptors and Excitatory Synapses' team, Institut de Biologie de l'ENS (IBENS), Neuroscience Section, INSERM France, to undertake a short term research mobility opportunity with the Origins of Cancer Program at the Centenary Institute.

Meilin applied for funding under the University of Sydney and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research/INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) Research Mobility Funding Scheme. Meilin will be based at the Centenary Institute until the end of  September 2015 and will be supervised by Dr Qian (Kevin) Wang. Her research project is entitled “Elucidating amino acid transporter LAT3 via genetic encoding of artificial amino acids”. At her laboratory back in France, Meilin introduced light-sensitive unnatural amino acids into neuronal receptors to understand the structure function relationship, which plays key roles in learning and memory.   She is expected to establish a novel strategy to study substrate binding sites in amino acid transporters.

Indonesia-Australia non-communicable disease research collaboration

L to R: Kirsty (Co Lead Sydney University), Prof Susan Sawyer (Co-lead Melbourne University), Prof BudiWiweko (Co-Lead Universitas Indonesia), Prof Yati Soenarto (Universitas Gadjah Mada), Prof Dr Dwia A. Tina Pulubuhu, Rector, and Dr Ansariadi (Hasannudin University).

23 June 2015

Associate Dean International, A/Professor Kirsty Foster is at a meeting in Makassar this week. The workshop is hosted by Hasanuddin University (UNHAS), one of the largest public universities in Indonesia and the first in the country to appoint a woman Rector, the equivalent of our Vice Chancellor.

The purpose of Kirsty’s visit is to work with the other co leads of the Health Cluster of the Australia Indonesia Centre to finalise the Cluster Investment Plan outlining the direction of cluster funded research in heath which will be conducted collaboratively and benefit both countries. The Health Cluster’s theme is Primary Prevention of Non-Communicable Disease through a Life Course Approach.

The group were fortunate to meet with Rector Professor Dr Dwia A. Tina Pulubuhu to discuss the plans. She is a member of the Board of AIC.

Hasanuddin University is one of the biggest and prestigious state owned universities in Indonesia, based in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province, and is one of the University of Sydney’s collaborators in the AIC along with six others: Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB), Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Institut Teknologi Sepuluh Nopember (ITS), Universitas Airlangga (UA), Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM), Universitas Hasanuddin (UNHAS) and Universitas Indonesia (UI) in Indonesia, and University of Sydney, Monash University, University of Melbourne, ANU (and CSIRO) in Australia.

The University of Sydney has a tripartite agreement with the UNHAS and the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology (Jakarta). We look forward to developing further collaboration through AIC activities.

Welcome to Semester Two commencing Australia Awards Scholars

L to R: Ryan Kurniawan is undertaking a Master of Medicine (HIV, STIs and Sexual Health) and Gusta Pratama is undertaking a Master of Medicine (Infection and Immunity).

The Sydney Medical School welcomed seven students awarded Australia Awards Scholarships, to commence in Semester Two, managed by the Australia Awards Office in the International Services portfolio.

The students enrolled in the Sydney Medical School (from Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines) were amongst 35 new Australia Awards Scholarships students from 13 different countries across Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East to commence at the University of Sydney.

Just released DFAT Health for Development Strategy 2015-2020

The Health for Development Strategy 2015-2020 provides guidance for DFAT policy engagement and investment decisions in health for development to promote prosperity and economic growth. The focus is on strengthening country-level health systems tailored to people’s needs, and regional health security to ensure effective regional solutions to trans-boundary health threats.

Medical Educators from Ghana arrive in Sydney

L to R: Dr Ansumana Bockarie, Dr Shailendra Sawleshwarkar, Associate Professor Kirsty Foster and Dr Akis Afoko.

In 2012, Associate Professor Kirsty Foster and Dr Shailendra Sawleshwarkar travelled to Ghana, in West Africa, to develop a partnership with the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and University of Development Studies (UDS) for capacity building in health education.

Practical Clinical Research Workshop, Danang, Vietnam

Team photo on completion: Other Australian tutors: A/prof Christine Roberts, A/Prof Kirsty Foster, Dr Tanya Nippita and Ms Shannon McKinn.

A Hoc Mai Foundation team led by Professor Jonathan Morris visited the Women's and Children's' Hospital in Danang to run a two day practical clinical research workshop. Two early research teams, one for the hospital and one from the University of Hue worked with the Sydney University tutors to plan research studies to answer clinically related questions devised at the last workshop in November.

This hands-on method where participants 'learn by doing' is designed to give a thorough understanding of the research process as well as practical skills in designing, and implementing a research project which will improve patient care. The two teams will refine their protocol with support from Australian tutors and plan to be ready to submit a funding application by the next workshop in November.

Professor Jonathan Morris starts the workshop.

First INSERM-University of Sydney PhD scholar arrives today

At left, visiting PhD student from Institute Gustave Roussy, Dr Trish Dwight (Research Fellow from the Kolling Institute of Medical Research) pictured on the right.

The University of Sydney’s Office for Global Health and Office for Global Engagement welcomed Ms Yan Ren, a PhD student from Institute Gustave Roussy, France, to undertake a short term research mobility opportunity with the Cancer Genetics Group at the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Royal North Shore Hospital, University of Sydney.

Yan applied for funding under the University of Sydney and the French National Insitute of Health and Medical Research/INSERM (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) Research Mobility Funding Scheme. Yan will be based at the Cancer Genetics Thyroid Laboratory until the end of August 2015 and will be supervised by Associate Professor Rory Clifton-Bligh and Dean of the Sydney Medical School, Professor Bruce Robinson. Yan’s research is examining the genetic susceptibility to thyroid cancer, dietary factors and clinical outcome (measuring dietary iodine intake and possible thyroid cancer risk as part of a case control study).

Endeavour awards now open!

The Endeavour awards are now open (closing 30th June). These awards are for both international scholars and Australians to study abroad. Endeavour Scholarships and Fellowships are internationally competitive, merit-based scholarships provided by the Australian Government that support citizens around the world to undertake study, research and professional development in Australia and for Australians to do the same overseas.

Guest lecture in Geriatric Medicine & Medical Education in Indonesia

More than 120 students and staff of Widya Mandala Catholic University (WMCUS), attended lectures by Prof Richard Lindley, Professor of Geriatric Medicine, Sydney Medical School Westmead and Prof Kirsty Foster, Associate Dean International and A/Prof of Medical Education, in Surabaya on Thursday 23rd April 2015.

MIPH Students’ Stories on their CIF Philippines Experience

Four Master of International Public Health Students (MIPH) travelled to the Philippines in December 2014 – January 2015 for the Classroom in the Field (CIF) Philippines Program.

Grants support collaboration in Southeast Asia

The Office for Global Health has been successful in applying for two grants to support the Faculty's engagement in Southeast Asia. Both of the grants were awarded following in country visits to the Philippines in January 2015 by Associate Professor Kirsty Foster and to Indonesia in February 2015 by Danielle Somers, both priority countries for engagement for the Sydney Medical School.

OGH representation at US global health conferences

Danielle Somers, Director of the Office for Global Health, was awarded a University of Sydney Professional Staff Development Fund grant to attend two concurrent global health themed conferences in the USA last month.

Visit to University of Gajah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Associate Professor Kirsty Foster (Associate Dean International and co-lead of the Health cluster for the Australia Indonesia Centre) and Danielle Somers (Director of the Office for Global Health) visited our partners, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Gajah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, last week.

Australian Research Innovation Showcase 2015 held in Indonesia

The Sydney Medical School participated in the Research Innovation Showcase, organised by Austrade in Jakarta on Monday 23rd February.

Danish Connection: Visit to the University of Copenhagen

A/Professor Kirsty Foster, Associate Dean International, and Dr Fawzia Huq, Senior Lecturer in Medical Education are visiting colleagues at the University of Copenhagen this week to strengthen our student exchange partnership following signing of an agreement in December 2014.

Practical Clinical Research in Hand Hygiene, Vietnam, receives Excellence Award
A hand hygiene campaign at Hung Vuong Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City has been recognized with the 2015 Asia Pacific Hand Hygiene Excellence Award.

Medical Students in Bangkok for Infectious Diseases Competition
A team of four Sydney Medical School medical students recently represented the faculty in the 4th Siriraj International Medical Microbiology, Parasitology and Immunology Competition (SIMPIC) in Bangkok between 30th January to 2nd February 2015.

Launch of WHO Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2014 report
NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) such as heart disease and stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung diseases, are the biggest killer on all continents, except Africa, accounting for 68% of the world’s deaths, more than 40% of which were premature (under the age of 70).

Partnerships strengthened in the Philippines
Associate Professor Kirsty Foster (Associate Dean International, Sydney Medical School) and Dr Giselle Manalo (Sub Dean International, Sydney School of Public Health) were in the Philippines from 27-30 January 2015, to formalise our new partnership with the (UERMMMCI).

Grant success with FAPESP Brazil
The University of Sydney has received five grants from the (FAPESP) in the recent call for proposals for the - São Paulo Researchers in International Collaboration.

Professor Stephen Colagiuri to chair a Forum on Diabetes in Qatar
The second World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) will take place on 17th and 18th February 2015 in Qatar.

New ACFID University Network Committee representative A/Prof Joel Negin
Associate Professor Joel Negin, the Director of Research in the Sydney School of Public Health, is the University of Sydney representative on the ACFID University Network Committee (AUNC).

Welcome to Australia Awards Scholarship students
The Sydney Medical School welcomed 14 students awarded Australia Awards Scholarships today, as part of their orientation to the University, managed by the Australia Awards Office in the International Services portfolio.

New SSEAC country coordinators from Sydney Medical School
Professor Lyndal Trevena and Associate Professor Kirsty Foster will lead the Timor Leste and Vietnam Country Groups, on behalf of the Sydney South East Asia Centre (SSEAC) at the University of Sydney, for the period 2015-2016.

Building health capacity in Fiji
A newly refurbished centre dedicated to improving the health of women and children was today opened in Vatukarasa on Fiji’s Coral Coast by Fijian Prime Minister Rear Admiral (rtd) J.V.Bainimarama.

APRU spotlight on University of Sydney's Dr Mu Li
Dr. Mu Li is an associate professor in international public health at the Sydney School of Public Health and Director of Public Health Strategic Program, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney. She is a recipient of the Endeavour Executive Fellowship Award 2014 from the Australian Government, worked as a visiting fellow at Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing China, and Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland.

Practical Clinical Research Workshops in Vietnam
A team of Hoc Mai Foundation volunteers and academics from the University of Sydney conducted Practical Clinical Research Workshops in Hanoi on 30-31 October and in Ho Chi Minh City on 3-4 November 2014.

Hoc Mai Annual Alumni Events in Vietnam
Annual Hoc Mai alumni events were recently held in two major cities in Vietnam – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The event provided Hoc Mai Foundation and University of Sydney staff to get updates on the professional lives of the alumni.