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Postdoctoral Fellow in Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine, Canada

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The Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, in the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary is accepting applications for a Postdoctoral Fellow in Epidemiology.

Job Description:
Drs. Ravani and Quinn are members of the Alberta Kidney Disease Network (www.AKDN.info). Members of the AKDN come from the Universities of Alberta and Calgary and have expertise in administrative data, biostatistics, clinical epidemiology, policy development, health technology assessment, health economics, knowledge transfer, pharmaco-epidemiology, survey methodology and qualitative methods. The research program focuses on non-communicable health conditions (diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease) in adults, with particular emphasis on kidney diseases. Strengths of the supervisors include study design and analysis of complex data.

Hemodialysis, the most common treatment for kidney failure globally, requires reliable access to the bloodstream. The two main type of vascular access are:  the fistula, a vein surgically connected to an artery, which becomes usable in 8-12 weeks; and the permanent catheter, a plastic tube inserted in a large vein in the neck that is ready for use immediately upon placement. In Canada, 80% of people start hemodialysis using a catheter because either a fistula attempt has been unsuccessful or not possible. While guidelines recommend access conversion from catheter to fistula as early as possible, some people successfully dialyze using a catheter without complications. In these cases a conversion-oriented approach may be seen as over-treatment, with its concomitant potential for harm.  Conversion from catheter to fistula is a complex process that often requires many surgical procedures and is sometimes ultimately unsuccessful. Because we do not know what predicts successful conversion, we are unable to identify an optimal vascular access strategy for each individual patient. While much research has been conducted in this area, very little is known about the impact and outcomes of these decisions in general, and especially in the elderly.  There is a growing interest in how benefits and harms of medical interventions vary by age because age may reduce the expected benefits of some interventions and increase their potential harms. As people over 65 comprise the majority of dialysis patients this question is key both from patient-centered and health cost perspectives.

Identifying predictors of successful conversion would allow us to develop strategies to improve conversion rates where appropriate, and to target conversion attempts at appropriate patients, thereby decreasing unnecessary or harmful procedures. This study will provide important data to better inform decision-making for management of kidney failure in the elderly, and help elderly patients develop informed preferences and share responsibilities based on expected risks and benefits as well as on their needs and values.

The postdoctoral scholar with undertake a project with three parts:

  • Assessing predictors of conversion from fistula to catheter among elderly patients.
  • Validation of procedure codes to identify hemodialysis-related vascular access procedures in administrative data against a gold standard.
  • Quantifying the risk of unnecessary procedures along the conversion pathway, especially in elderly patients.

The postdoctoral scholar will work under the supervision of Drs. Pietro Ravani and Rob Quinn, in collaboration with international experts in this field and an interdisciplinary group of health care providers and health administrators.

  • The postdoctoral scholar will be involved in the design and execution of the analyses and presentation/ dissemination of findings.
  • The post-doctoral fellow will also have the opportunity to be involved in teaching and mentorship. 
  • The candidate will be encouraged to collaborate and build relationships with health care professionals and researchers of different disciplines and to develop independent research projects.

Qualifications:

  • An interest in epidemiology of chronic non-communicable diseases
  • Training in epidemiology is required and strong statistical skills are an asset
  • Good working knowledge of a statistical software package (e.g. Stata, SAS, R, SPSS)
  • Experience working with administrative data is an asset
  • Competitive list of peer-reviewed publications
  • Excellent academic record
  • Exceptional written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and manage time effectively
  • PhD in a health-related field (epidemiology, health services research, biostatistics) completed within the last 3 years

Application details:  
Individuals interested in this excellent opportunity should submit a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, any relevant publications and the names and contact information of three referees to:

Dr. Pietro Ravani MD, PhD
Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology
Cumming School of Medicine
University of Calgary

Further Information

Application Deadline : 15 August 2015

Postdoctoral Fellow in Epidemiology, Department of Medicine, Cumming School of Medicine : PDF

Contact Email:

Posted on 2015-07-26 04:14:14


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