Sri Sugiarto (Ria) has been at UWA less than a year but she’s already making her mark. The first year PhD student had her work on improving the use of malaria drugs acknowledged earlier this year when she was awarded the Hadi Soesatro Prize.
The award supports Indonesian academics who are completing their doctorates in Australia with the aim to develop young leaders and promote educational links between the two countries.
“I completed my medical degree in Indonesia and became really interested in infectious disease and public health.
“I’ve spent the last few years working in rural Indonesia promoting health, especially in infants and young children,” Ria says.
Joining UWA in June last year, Ria has settled into the Perth way of life and is based at Fremantle Hospital.
“My research investigates the use of antimalarial combination therapy among special groups, such as people with hemoglobin abnormalities and young children.
“Currently we don't understand how the drug affects these groups; is it different from how an otherwise healthy adult would be affected? We have to collect data to build this picture,” Ria says.
This research has brought about a fresh challenge for Ria. While she has significant Indonesian experience regarding malaria, she has none from Africa where malaria is also a big issue.
“I’ve always wanted to work in Africa and since beginning my PhD I’ve already been to Tanzania and will go again next month.
“It’s a great opportunity for me made possible by the Hadi Soesatro Prize. I’m really grateful for the help I received from the International Student Support Office in regards to my application and bringing my attention to the prize in the first place,” Ria says.
Her work will facilitate greater Indonesian research collaboration and on a larger scale, may contribute to global malaria eradication efforts.
“Malaria is entirely preventable and treatable but some endemic regions in Asia and Africa are unable to control the disease due to the poor living conditions, insufficient health system and lack of preventive measures.
“I want to make a positive contribution to eliminating the disease and I hope this research will help me do that,” she says.