Conference and Professional Development Grant Recipient: Megan Smith

2 February 2015
Photograph of Megan Smith

For researcher Megan Smith, attending the 2014 International Papillomavirus Society Conference & Clinical Workshop on a TCRN Conference and Professional Development Grant was a chance to engage with the brightest minds in her field. 

Megan is part of a research team with an interest in modelling that answers policy questions for cancer screening programs, with a particular focus on cancers related to human papillomavirus (HPV). She said that the conference provided her with insights into the latest research and results across a wide range of areas relating to HPV.

“For example, information about the natural history of several HPV-related cancers and diseases will help inform the development of our group's HPV models.  Information about next generation HPV vaccines will inform our current NHMRC project examining the impact of these vaccines, including on cervical screening,” she said. 

“I am also doing some modelling work around using self-collected samples for cervical screening, and researchers from several settings reported that HPV testing on self-collected cervical samples was reliable, feasible and can increase participation in cervical screening.

“Attending the conference also gave insight into upcoming policy questions and where the gaps in the scientific knowledge are, and so how our group can contribute.”

Megan's research combines modelling work for government organisations and descriptive work around issues related to HPV vaccination and cancer screening, such as national trends in genital warts in Australia after the HPV vaccination program was implemented. It’s a broad field, and one that is undergoing a period of rapid change.

“Cervical screening is undergoing major transformation around the world, both due to new technologies and because of HPV vaccination.  Our research helps to demonstrate how effective and cost-effective the various new screening technologies are, including in the context of HPV-vaccinated women; how acceptable they are to women; and to understand some of the practical issues around implementing changes,” she said.

Since moving to UNSW two years ago, Megan and her research team have engaged extensively with the TCRN, accessing the Consumer Advisory Committee for feedback on grant applications and building networks within the university’s cancer research community. 

“Taking clinical trial evidence and other data from observational trials and using it in a model to make predictions about how well different policy options would work, we see ourselves as definitely being on that translational spectrum,” she said.

Grant snapshot:

Conference: 2014 International Papillomavirus Society Conference & Clinical Workshop
Location: Seattle, USA