Thursday, 26 February 2015

Researcher Profile: Ingrid Hopper

In our most recent Researcher Profile, we spoke with Ingrid Hopper who is currently in her final stages of PhD completion. She's taken the time to discuss her area of research and her plans for the future and you can read about it below: 
Can you briefly describe your area of research and what your PhD topic is on? 

My research is in heart failure and the issue of polypharmacy, which is the use of four or more medications for this condition. I’m investigating whether some of the medications that are used in heart failure are unnecessary and can be withdrawn safely while maintaining the efficacy of the remaining agents. I reviewed the evidence base from the literature on the effects of drug withdrawal, surveyed physicians and patients about their attitudes to withdrawing drugs, and ran three randomised controlled trials in which a medication was withdrawn.

Given that you’re in the final stages of completion, how would you summarize the experience of doing a PhD?

It’s been great. Coming back to study after time in the workforce, you realise how lucky you are to be able to study full-time. I’ve had terrific supervisors who have provided me with opportunities such as attending international conferences and being involved with papers beyond the scope of my PhD. The environment in DEPM is very supportive of PhD students, and provides a huge array of opportunities. You feel your brain pulsating with all the new information!

How did you come to being interested in your current area of research?

During my physician training I saw patients on huge numbers of medications, and this lead me to wonder about all of the side effects, drug interactions, costs and issues of compliance or adherence with these types of medication regimens. I trained in the discipline of Clinical Pharmacology, which takes a particular interest in what patients are doing in real life with their medications. When I came to the Alfred Hospital for my last year of training, I had the chance to work in Professor Henry Krum’s heart failure group, and this topic married those interests.

Can you also tell us about your experience as a speaker at the World Heart Failure Society Congress in the UAE recently?

I was invited to the World Heart Failure Society Congress to speak on my PhD topic of withdrawal of medications in heart failure, and present two further talks on other areas of interest. The WHFS is an unusual group, in that it was set up to address the issue of heart failure in developing countries. Surprisingly, the issue of polypharmacy was as relevant there as it is to us here. We had a lively discussion about withdrawal of medications in different scenarios including the palliative setting, postnatal setting and after the resolution of myocarditis and tachycardia induced heart failure. I also had an opportunity to tour Abu Dhabi which was fascinating.

What are you most proud of in your time with SPHPM so far?
Managing to combine PhD with family. My third child was born during my PhD. Studying during this period of intense child rearing allowed me flexibility to be around with the kids, and then work late into the night to make up the hours. My partner runs his own business and he’s had flexibility with hours too. None of this could be possible without the helping hand of my mum.

What are you goals or plans following completion of your PhD?
I would love to go on and do further post-doctoral research and establish a career as a clinician researcher.

And lastly what advice would you give someone who is planning on completing a PhD?

Set deadlines, respect those deadlines and just keep going, even if it’s just a little every day.

We'd like to thank Ingrid for taking the time to answer our questions. 

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