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Postgraduate profile: Mohamed Tashani

30 April 2018
After graduating with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Tripoli in Libya, Mohamed Tashani came to Australia, where he became a PhD fellow at the Children's Hospital at Westmead.

Mohamed completed two Masters Degrees at UNSW in Public Health and Health Management, and International Public Health before his interest in immunology and vaccination led him to join the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead as a PhD student in 2013.

His research revolved around how new conjugate vaccines interact with each other, as well as with other routine childhood vaccines. Hajj – the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca -  provided Mohamed with a unique opportunity to explore the interaction of vaccines in a semi-controlled setting, as all pilgrims are required to receive certain vaccines before travelling.  While most of these travellers are adults, the implications of the study can be applied to children to optimise childhood immunisation schedules, particularly in settings with low socioeconomic status and in developing countries.

The recruitment process of Mohamed’s study also provided him with the opportunity to engage in society, explore people’s fears and concerns about travel-related diseases. As part of this, he regularly conducted health advise sessions among Muslim communities to increase their awareness about travel diseases and the importance of preventative health measures.

Mohamed was awarded the International Robert Austrian Research Award in Pneumococcal Vaccinology 2014 by the International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases (ISPPD) for his study, which helped fund the research, and was invited to present the outcome of his research at the ISPPD conference in Glasgow, UK in June 2016.

He was also selected to participate in the Fresh Science NSW 2017 award for young scientists for his research into methods to reduce the cost of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in developing countries. Fresh Science is a national competition that helps early career researchers find and share their stories of discovery.

While completing his PhD, Mohamed also worked as a Research Officer in Immunisation Program Evaluation at NCIRS. The role involved evaluating newly implemented immunisation programs around Australia, interviewing stakeholders and collating their feedback, and making recommendations to the Department of Health based on this feedback and evaluation.

He graduated in 2017 and is currently working as a Resident Medical Officer at Lismore Base Hospital, while remotely supervising research students and publishing his remaining research data.