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Pharmacoepidemiology Summer School

Graduate Research Training Fund Travel Report – Elizabeth Hamilton (2019, DPhil Population Health)

With the assistance of the Research Training fund generously provided by University College, I recently was able to attend the Pharmacoepidemiology Summer School in Grenaa, Denmark, run by the Department of Clinical Epidemiology at Aarhus University. Called “Drug, Diseases and Designs: Topics and methods in real-world pharmacoepidemiology”, this was a five day in-person intensive course with a group of about 30 people from around the world, with varying backgrounds, ranging from medicine, epidemiology, statistics and pharmaceutical science.

Over the week, we learnt about challenges in pharmacoepidemiology, use of reliable methods, examples in specific diseases and how to perform meta-analyses in this context. We spent time discussing how to evaluate drug effects in populations, including frequent problems encountered, such as concurrent use of drugs, difficulty obtaining meaningful endpoints and rare outcomes, and strategies on how to mitigate these challenges. We also discussed and learnt about the importance of pharmacoepidemiology in population health, using COVID-19 as an example, particularly in vulnerable populations, such as children and pregnant women, who are often not included in trials.

Each day included break-out sessions in small groups where we would work through a problem set together and then present this to the broader group. A particular session of interest to me and my DPhil studies was a short-course on meta-analyses in the context of pharmaco-epidemiology, where we learnt about common pitfalls of such studies and how to avoid them, with a hands-on tutorial where we ran our own analysis. This has directly informed a meta-analysis I have performed in my DPhil, investigating risk factors for chronic hepatitis B infection in Chinese adults.

In addition to the rigorous academic program, there were social events in the evenings, and I was able to explore the local surrounds of the conference centre, including the nearby forest and beach. It was also Midsummer’s eve while I was there, and we attended Danish bonfires at the local port. Overall, this course was a really valuable experience, providing a bridge between epidemiology and clinical medicine. This is important to me I as I ultimately hope to tie my epidemiological and statistics knowledge together with patient facing work as a doctor. Thank you to University College for assisting me to attend this course.

Find out more about the range of travel grants and scholarships available to assist Univ students on our Travel Grants page or read further travel reports.

Published: 29 September 2022

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