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Jannah Baker

Jannah BakerWhy did you choose to study the IDTC program?

The IDTC program was an exciting new opportunity to gain skills relevant to both an academic and industrial context. I wanted to keep my options open for an academic career and a career within industry. The IDTC was a great program to give PhD students the chance to develop skills required for both types of careers.

What new skills or experiences have you learned along the way?

I have been able to develop skills to communicate my research with academics from various fields, and non-academics, including those within industry and government. This has been possible through frequent networking with colleagues from academic, industry and government sectors and frequent delivery of conference presentations and participation in competitions, which were a vital part of the IDTC program.

Would you recommend this program to other PhD students? 

I would absolutely recommend the program to other PhD students who want more than just a narrow set of skills relevant to a niche topic, and who want to increase their employability.

My advice to other research students looking to study the program is to make the most of the broad opportunities offered within the IDTC program to network with, and share knowledge and skills within the ATN research community. These connections will be invaluable as as they progress through their careers.

Who is your industry partner, what has your relationship been like, and what have you learned from them?

The Cooperative Research Centres for Spatial Information (CRCSI) was a wonderful organisation to work with that is very interactive, collegial and well-organised. I have had frequent contact with other members within the CRCSI through annual conferences, quarterly teleconferences and newsletters.

My industry partner has been extremely supportive, suggested new angles to consider for my project and have shared resources and connections that have helped my research. They have also helped me to promote my work. For example, they encouraged and provided me with resources to create and enter a 30-second video summary of my PhD project into an Early Career Researchers competition, a growth experience that I really enjoyed and learned from. Being concise enough to describe your work clearly in three sentences is a necessary skill in today's world!

How would you describe your research?

With the explosion of diabetes in Australia, it is important to detect it early to avoid the many complications of diabetes including foot ulcers, kidney disease, blindness, stroke, heart disease, leg amputation and early death. Type 2 diabetes is mostly preventable with healthy lifestyle choices and careful monitoring.

My research highlights areas of Queensland and New South Wales that are most at risk for type 2 diabetes. It also explores area-level risk factors for diabetes and the inequality between areas in proportion of people that have diabetes.

My work also looks at what type of patients with Type 2 diabetes are more likely to be admitted to hospital with complications of diabetes, and to have more than one admission, stay longer in hospital, be readmitted within a month, or be admitted to intensive care unit.

What impact does your research have on people's lives?

By being able to identify those people with Type 2 diabetes in our community who are at higher risk of developing complications and going to hospital, we can potentially prevent these complications. This may be possible through closer monitoring of their blood sugar control and frequent GP visits to detect and treat foot ulcers, kidney and eye problems early. This is especially true for areas of residence found to have higher risk for Type 2 diabetes.

What career goals do you have after completing the IDTC program?

My career goals involve facilitating further collaboration between academia, industry and government. Australia currently ranks low among OECD countries in terms of collaboration between academic and non-academic sectors, and we need to bridge this gap and build closer communications and relations between them, for the mutual benefit of the Australian community.

Has the IDTC program prepared you to enter the workforce?

Absolutely, I owe my current career success to the skills and achievements I have gained through being a part of the IDTC program! In my current role of Research Fellow for Health Policy/Health Economics, my work shapes decision-making around health policies and finance. I couldn't think of a more fulfilling or practical role, and it makes very good use of the broad range of research, teamwork and communication skills I gained within the IDTC program.