Meet The Researcher

Dr Julie Campbell

Menzies Institute for Medical Research

Let's get started! Tell us an interesting fact about yourself.
I’ve had a lot of ‘working lives’ before completing my PhD as a mature-age student, and I am very grateful for that opportunity from the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research. My other working lives over 25 years included, for example, being a senior economic advisor to government, a registered and clinical nurse in both the public and private hospital systems and in the community, and a business owner, but my most important job so far is that I’m a mum to a pre-teen and I’m still learning the ropes for this most challenging job! I also play piano, and this year I will try and catch up to my son who is a budding multi-instrumentalist to enjoy the musical journey with him.
What inspired you to get involved in MS research?
That’s an easy question! Without a doubt to bring the quality of life and societal impacts for people with MS, their families and carers, and society more broadly, to the table of health economics research in MS. Ultimately we aim for these societal impacts to be heard and understood by policy and decision makers. Also, Tasmania has the highest prevalence of MS per capita to any other State in Australia, and this fact has also inspired me to be a health economics advocate for people with MS. MS health economics research is not just about the analyses of direct medical costs! Broad quality of life and cost impacts (and cost offsets from interventions that have a positive impact) are fundamental concepts that need to be appropriately captured, analysed and therefore understood. I was a co-author on the Menzies and MS Research Australia’s health economic impact report and this report also inspired me to augment and extend this work to develop an evidence-based independent unbiased holistic MS health economics toolkit that will lead the way both nationally and internationally.
What do you think has been the most exciting development in MS research?
I’m encouraged every day by the work of the world-leading talented scientists around me at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research’s MS Flagship Team. There is so much scientific hope in the field, and I will endeavour to demonstrate and highlight the economic impacts of these advances such as high-efficacy immunomodulating agents and the health economic impacts of supporting people with MS in the workforce and their lives generally in their communities and families. From a health economics perspective I ask myself the question: how can we robustly show decision-makers that the health economic impacts of these advances are translating positively for the individual, their carers and families, and society more broadly?
Tell us about your current research project...
I am very excited for the opportunity to create the world’s first MS-health economics toolkit - this toolkit will provide a platform for unbiased and optimal decision-making in MS health economics. The complexity of MS and the precision-based approach for each person with MS needs to be appropriately captured, assessed and understood from a health economics societal perspective. The ultimate goal of my project is to translate the MS health economics toolkit to minimise the chance of decision makers rejecting worthwhile MS treatments and prevention strategies - I want the societal impacts regarding MS treatments and prevention strategies to be heard and understood by policy and decision makers through an unbiased and tested health economics lens.
Why is your research important and how will it influence the understanding and treatment of MS?
I hope to do justice to the amazing work and advances in the field of MS medical research regarding MS interventions and prevention strategies that my more experienced colleagues have made over the past 20 years. To build on these significant scientific advances, coupled with the knowledge that we have gained through the health economic impact statement, and with the continuing support of the Menzies MS Flagship Team, I aim to develop a highly-specialised field of MS-health economics that will increase the opportunities for economic advocacy for people with MS, their carers and families, and society.
What do you enjoy most about working in the lab and what are some of the challenges you face?
Without a doubt one of the most enjoyable parts of my work is the collegial goodwill that is the very ethos of the Menzies Institute for Medical Research’s MS Flagship Team, and the exceptional relationship that we enjoy with MS Research Australia, and the broader national and international MS research community. Also, as one of a few qualitative researchers in the field of health economics in the world, throughout the life of this project I also aim to listen to people with MS and their carers about their lived experiences, and the health economic impacts of these lived experiences. I know that, at times, this will be challenging (for the people with MS and their carers; and sometimes both personally and professionally for me too), however, listening to peoples stories is a privilege and the challenge (and reward) will be for me to do the spoken narrative justice in the area of health economics that is largely a quantitative discipline.
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Dr Julie Campbell