Netsanet Negewo

Jennie Thomas Travel Grant Winner 2015

Area of Research

Netsanet is a pharmacist by profession, who is currently undertaking her PhD at the Priority Research Centre for Healthy Lungs. Her doctoral research aims to investigate the role of inflammation and comorbidities in people living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Read more about Netsanet at:

My Jennie Thomas Travelling Scholarship Experience

The purpose of my travel grant was to attend and present at (1) the Annual Scientific Meeting of The Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) which was held in Perth (Australia) 2-6 April 2016 and (2) the upcoming 26th European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress, which will be held in London (United Kingdom) 3-7 September 2016.    

The 2016 TSANZ conference was my first national conference that I participated in as a presenter. The conference was a fantastic opportunity to gain national exposure and also build networks. On the occasion I presented two of my PhD related studies (one as an oral presentation and another as a thematic poster). Presenting my work to such a large and diversified audience was an inspiring and rewarding experience which I greatly enjoyed.

The study I presented as an oral presentation at TSANZ 2016 reported the potential use and reliability of a simple blood test (blood eosinophil count) to positively diagnose a specific type of airway inflammation (eosinophilic airway inflammation) that responds well to corticosteroid therapy in patients with COPD. This work did attract a profound interest from delegates. Following the presentation, I had the opportunity to discuss my findings with respiratory physicians and researchers from different parts of Australia, New Zealand as well as international guests. Through these discussions I was able to fully appreciate the usefulness of the work to clinical practice and the value it would add to the management of COPD patients. I was extremely delighted to have been chosen as the winner of ‘the best oral presentation in COPD’ during the occasion. My thematic poster presentation entitled “Does weight loss coupled with resistance training in obese COPD patients improve other interrelated comorbidities?” has also attracted considerable interest, particularly from allied health professionals including physiotherapists, who commended the work for its novelty and the fact that it addressed a highly important area in COPD management. The poster session was a great opportunity to meet and have a chat with leading researchers in Australia. TSANZ 2016 also presented several networking opportunities for early career researchers and I believe I have made the best of these opportunities. The experiences and ideas I shared with other PhD students, post-docs and respiratory scientists were instrumental and a good source of renewed inspiration.

Using my Jennie Thomas travel grant I will be travelling to London in September 2016 to attend and present at the prestigious European Respiratory Congress (ERS). ERS is one of the biggest and prestigious events in the respiratory calendar which is attended by a large number (>15,000) of respiratory researchers and allied professionals. And I must say that my excitement has already set in! On my way back to Australia from London, I will have a stop-over at Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and will use this opportunity to engage with higher biomedical teaching and research institutions there that have interest in the area of obstructive airway diseases with the aim of establishing collaborative links.

Beyond the Grant

Opportunities for PhD students to secure enough funding for travel and conference expenses, especially international ones, are very much limited. I feel incredibly lucky to have been awarded this generous travel grant which has allowed me to disseminate my research output to a wider audience, learn about the latest research on respiratory diseases as well as link with people who are interested in the same area of research nationwide. I am really looking forward to my upcoming trips to London (UK) and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), where I get the opportunities to present my PhD work to international audiences. These trips are ideal to discuss projects and opportunities for my post-PhD career and also potentially forge a collaborative network with international researchers and institutions. I’m also excited to learn about new places, people and culture. Finally, I would like say that I feel honoured and very lucky to have been an ambassador of Jennie Thomas’s scholarship.    

Netsi presenting her poster at TSANZ 2016    

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