DR Catherine Chamberlain

Fellowship to assist research into helping Indigenous women stop smoking during pregnancy

DR Catherine Chamberlain

Trawlwoolway woman Dr Catherine Chamberlain will travel to London in May to participate in a research conference.

Meet Dr Catherine Chamberlain, a recognised contributor to Aboriginal women’s health research and a recipient of an Australian Government Endeavour Research Fellowship for Indigenous Australians.

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A descendant of the Trawlwoolway people in North East Tasmania, Dr Chamberlain works at La Trobe University as a Medical Research Council Early Career Fellow.

Dr Chamberlain originally trained as a nurse and midwife and has over 25 years’ experience in maternal health, and expertise in Public Health including a Masters of Public Health (2002), and the Victorian Public Health Training Scheme (MScPHP 2005). Her research interests stem from working in a broad range of remote, rural and urban settings across health service, government and university sectors.

“I’m very committed to Closing the Gap for Aboriginal women by developing effective family health programs,” Dr Chamberlain said.

“Smoking during pregnancy is a concern for Aboriginal women and I have focused a great deal of my research around designing interventions to support female smokers.

“It is the most significant modifiable risk factor in pregnancy and is recognised as the principal cause of health inequality.” Advertisement for Endeavour research Fellowship

In May 2017, she will travel to the Evidence for Policy and Practice Coordinating Centre at University College London on an Endeavour Research Fellowship for Indigenous Australians.

A key focus of her visit will be exposure to the Cochrane Reviews of ‘Interventions to support women to stop smoking in pregnancy.’

“These reviews have been instrumental in identifying the risks of smoking in pregnancy and informing high quality national and international guidelines,” Dr Chamberlain said.

“The reviews are the benchmark, having contributed to significant reductions in smoking among pregnant women in high income countries.”

Dr Chamberlain’s new skills will be very relevant to her role in Aboriginal health research.

“I will use the experience and evolving research expertise to work with communities to facilitate solutions to complex issues around maternal health,” Dr Chamberlain said.

“This includes supporting the development of strategies to reduce cardio-metabolic risk (e.g. smoking and diabetes) among Aboriginal mothers.”

This provides motivation to contribute in a positive way to the wellbeing of other Aboriginal Australians.

“The knowledge and networks I will develop through my Endeavour fellowship will help me support the development of effective family health programs and contribute to ‘Closing the Gap’ in Aboriginal women’s health,” Dr Chamberlain said.

The Australian Government is encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to apply for an Endeavour Scholarship and Fellowship.

Applications for the 2018 round close 30 June 2017.

For details on how to apply visit: internationaleducation.gov.au/Endeavour

Dr Chamberlain is the author of five previous reviews. More information on her publications can be found here.

More on the Cochrane Reviews on smoking in pregnancy can be found here and here.

This article was sponsored by the Department of Education and Training’s Endeavour Program.

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