Baume Travel Grant Report 2018

Laura Ford
11 October 2018

Laura Ford is in her final year of her PhD at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health.  Her research is on the epidemiology of Salmonella enterica in Australia and the impact of whole genome sequencing on public health surveillance.

Assisted by the Baume Travel Grant, I travelled to Atlanta, Georgia USA in August 2018. I attended the International Conference of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ICEID), a conference which brings together more than 1,500 public health professionals around the world to exchange the latest information on issues affecting the emergence, spread and control of infectious diseases.

While at the conference, I attended many talks on a wide variety of topics within the field of infectious diseases. There were several talks where the research could be applied to my own work, including on new bioinformatic methods to track disease spread and the use of sequencing to inform control and prevention methods.

I presented two posters at ICEID entitled “Genomic Epidemiology of Salmonella Mississippi in Australia” and “The Emergence of Salmonella Typhimurium DT 160 in Australia among Humans and Sparrows”. This research will be one of the papers included in my PhD and aims to examine how epidemiological and genomic data can work together to improve prevention and control of two emerging Salmonella serotypes that are geographically distinct and often transmitted through animal and environmental reservoirs, rather than through food. Delivering these poster presentations gave me an opportunity to discuss my work with conference participants, including individuals from the Food, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases section at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In addition to attending ICEID, while I was in Atlanta, I met with a collaborator from the CDC on a PhD project that I am leading examining the effects of culture-independent diagnostic testing and whole genome sequencing on Salmonella outbreak costs in both Australia and the USA. We discussed data sources and methods for the project. This meeting has helped me to progress the project, obtain data, and start building the economic model.

This travel was a wonderful opportunity to progress a project and potential publication, present my work at an international conference, learn from international research on infectious diseases, and network with other students, researchers, and professionals in the foodborne diseases and infectious diseases fields. My networks have been greatly extended due to this trip.

I thank the Baume Travel Grant for assisting me to undertake this travel.