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12th ISPAD Science School for Health Professionals (SSHP) - Report

4th-6th October 2015, Brisbane, Australia



The ISPAD Science School continues to demonstrate productively the need for research training in non-medical health professions. High quality worldwide applications were received which demonstrates the continued popularity of the School and the desire for allied health diabetes team members to advance their research knowledge and skills. The 12th ISPAD Science School was held in Brisbane, Australia preceding the ISPAD Annual Conference Meeting.

Lead Convener: Dr Heather Gilbertson Grad Dip Nut&Diet, Grad Cert Diab Ed, PhD, AdvAPD


Aims of the Science School

Primary aims:

1)    Training in basic research methodology

2)    Professional growth as researcher

3)    Development of individual research projects

4)    Develop a supportive global research network

Secondary aims

5)    Broaden the science at ISPAD Congresses

6)    Increase International Research Collaborations

7)    Increase ISPAD membership

8)    Increase attendance at ISPAD Congresses

Science School Faculty

The faculty is selected from a range of non-medical Health Professionals, to promote the importance of role models. This year the majority of the faculty were from Australia due to the location of the SSHP





Dr Heather Gilbertson



Dr Carmel Smart



Dr Daniele Pacaud

Paediatric Endocrinologist


Assoc Prof Lis Northam

Clinical Neuropsychologist


Helen Phelan

DNE, Project Manager



Science School delegates

Written applications from candidates were assessed by the convener using previously established criteria. This year, all applicants needed to be ISPAD members to be eligible to apply. The majority of delegates attended the ISPAD Annual conference after the Science School. This year we had 14 delegates participating in the SSHP from 7 different countries including Australia, Austria, Canada, England, India, USA and New Zealand. There were four dietitians, eight diabetes educators and two social workers/counsellors.


Each year the program is evaluated and changed based on feedback from faculty and delegates. The topics covered this year included;

Day 1:

Research in Children, Critiquing the literature, Research Methodology, Study Basics, Writing the research question


Day 2:

Grant writing, Applying statistics in research, Questionnaire design, Abstract writing, Creating effective posters


Day 3:

Mistakes of beginning researchers, Delegate presentations of their research proposal


Each delegate had a specific research topic and question that they had arrived with to work on and develop throughout the course. All delegates had completed a literature review summary on their topic before arriving which helped them to progress their project further over the three day program. All the delegates did a great job in presenting their project proposals and were all very keen and enthusiastic to take it back to their workplace and get the project underway.

The SSHP team also organizes a great social program in the evenings for the delegates which provides for further networking opportunities and further discussion of their projects. This year the group did a City Hop ferry tour of the Brisbane River and explored the Southbank precinct before dining at some local restaurants.   

Evaluation and outcomes

The SSHP program is always evaluated at the end of each year and this feedback is used to refine topics and lectures for future lectures. This year all the lectures were rated highly by the delegates (scores range 8-10/10). The delegates confidence and understanding in conducting research was also rated highly (scores range 8-10/10).  Some of the comments from delegates included; “it was fabulous and demystified research”, “faculty was amazing – what a wealth of knowledge and experience”, “fantastic program” , “content of program and feedback from faculty extremely helpful”, “SSHP has been a highlight of my career”, “thankyou ISPAD for such a wonderful opportunity”, “good networking and support”, “best CPD I have had in years”.

Overall the class of SSHP 2015 was a great success and was enjoyed and appreciated by all delegates and faculty involved.

The main outcome we strive to achieve from the SSHP is for delegates to refine and finalise their research question and project protocol, undertake their research project in their workplace, prepare and submit an abstract for the following ISPAD annual conference and return the following year to present a poster or oral presentation on their findings. We look forward to catching up with everyone again next year to celebrate their progress and achievements.

Next year, the SSHP 2016 school will be held in Valencia 23-25th October. Expressions of interest for applications will be announced on the ISPAD website in late January. Please encourage experienced allied health clinicians from your centre to apply if they are interested in advancing their research skills and knowledge.

The conveners and faculty wish to thank ISPAD for the continued support of this unique training event and Johnson & Johnson Lifescan Animas for the funding to make it possible.


Dr Heather Gilbertson - Convener 2015


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