Fellowship in for Pacific health researcher

Riz Firestone has been awarded a Pacific Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship to undertake research at the University's Centre for Public Health Research.

The three-year funding from the Health Research Council will support her work on  life-course epidemiology , particularly with regards to the health of Pacific populations.

This will involve working with the centre's Associate Professor Jeroen Douwes on epidemiological studies into the causes of respiratory disease.

Ms Firestone will also develop New Zealand's first internet-based birth cohort study to examine early life risk factors for chronic disease.

In addition, she will work with Dr Mona Jeffreys on a study of breast cancer among Pacific women in New Zealand and continue work she conducted as part of her PhD with Professor Philippa Gander.

After working as a speech language therapist, Ms Firestone completed a postgraduate Diploma of Public Health in 2000, followed by a Masters of Public Health at Otago University's Wellington School of Medicine.

Three years ago she worked as a junior research fellow with Massey's Sleep/Wake Research Centre, co-managing the data collection and analysis for a study that investigated the relationship between inadequate sleep and postpartum mood disorders.

Her doctoral study, submitted this year, examined the risk of obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome among taxi drivers, as well as investigating the factors that inhibit access for the assessment and treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea.

She says she likes the broader potential for good outcomes that public health offers.

  Your work can have a greater outreach in improving the knowledge of issues surrounding a public health problem, whereas working as an individual clinician, you get to treat health issues only at an individual level.

Ms Firestone says her interest in epidemiology was re-ignited after attending a three-week residential course in Florence last year.

Seeing the effects of poor health among Pacific people is also a motivation.

Created: 30 June, 2006