The 6th GACD Annual Scientific Meeting was held from 2-6 October in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation (MINCyT) hosted the meeting in collaboration with Argentina’s Ministry of National Health (MINSAL). This year’s meeting was well attended, with 85 GACD Network members present for the Annual Scientific Meeting component and 72 Implementation Science Workshop participants – the best-attended workshop to date.
The keynote address was delivered by Argentina’s Minister of National Health, the GACD’s own Prof Adolfo Rubinstein. Entitled, “There are no excuses for not doing something to improve NCD’s prevention and control in Argentina – A personal journey from Research to Policy”, the address gave a unique insight into Adolfo’s journey from researcher to policymaker and the challenges and opportunities that have presented themselves. His talk embodied the spirit and mission of the GACD – to generate evidence, grapple with its real-world application, and use it to inform the process of policymaking, which aims to have an impact at scale for the target communities at highest risk.
This year saw the inaugural running of a Dragon’s Den-style pitching exercise, in which researchers were given 3 minutes to pitch the importance of their research to a representatives from variety of non-scientific audiences, including policymaking, media and investors. The experience highlighted the importance and challenge of developing these types of skills with the intention to move interventions to scale with partners from non-academic partners.
•Implementation Science Workshop (2 – 3 November)
The 5th GACD Implementation Science Workshop was held over the first 2 days of the week and boasted the highest attendance to date, with 72 researchers participating. The Implementation Science Workshop series has evolved from its focus on training early career researchers, to cater to researchers at multiple levels of experience. Attendance was fairly evenly split between first time attendees and those who had participated in previous years. This once again reflected the workshop’s utility as an ongoing, dynamic training resource to continually develop skills in implementation science. There was a strong expression of interest for time to be made for focussed sessions on the more technical aspects of implementation science, including theoretical frameworks, analytical methods and managing multiple outcome data.
•Reflections on Joint Peer Review
Prof Catherine Law, who chaired the last three GACD Joint Peer Review Panels was invited to provide reflections on this process on the morning of the Day 2. Catherine provided shared her assessment of characteristics of applications that had scored in the fundable range and took questions from the plenary, engaging lively debate. This was an excellent opportunity for researchers to gain insights into the GACD review process.
• GACD ASM Poster Competition
The 3rd GACD ASM Poster Competition was a success, offering entrants the chance to engage with ASM attendees and judges.
Rene Kirkham took first prize (iPad mini) with her poster entitled, “Enhancing models of care in diabetes in pregnancy in Far North Queensland”. Second place went to Gina Agarwal of the CHAPP project, for her poster, “The performance of a recalibrated Finnish diabetes risk score (FINDRISC) in a community-based screening of type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in selected
municipalities of Southwestern Philippines”, winning a Kobo eReader. The People’s Choice Award (Fitbit Flex band) was taken by Gillian Gould and Billie Bonevski for their poster, “Designing a primary care intervention with the Behaviour Change Wheel: the case of maternal Indigenous smoking”. Congratulations to the winners!
Key themes and questions from the ASM
• The challenges of conducting implementation research in dynamic and unpredictable political environments was a common them – more specifically, the challenge of timing research and interventions to coincide with changing political regimes
• What approach (funding and research) should be taken to address the challenges of addressing comorbidities?
• Once again, there were calls from the researchers for funders to consider funding investigator-driven proposals, collaborative activities across multiple project teams, as well as interventions that addressed multiple morbidities
• Cross-country research is difficult with the given funding structure of calls. Could there be specific funding for cross-country research, in particular in light of the already existing close research collaborations within the GACD Network?