2021-22 Australian Science Policy Fellow: Reetu
Reetu is a Physiologist with 12 years of post-doctoral experience working as a biomedical research scientist in the area of paediatric kidney and cardiovascular diseases. Her PhD focused on experimental models to uncover mechanisms that resulted in kidney and cardiovascular diseases in individuals born with a single kidney. Since completion of her PhD, Reetu’s work has been supported by national and international research grants. Her work has been published in 43 original research articles, and one book chapter and cited >800 times by other scientists. Reetu has also served on the expert panel of the International Society of Hypertension recommending treatments for hypertension.
As a biomedical research scientist, Reetu is passionate about undertaking work that will have meaningful and positive impact on people’s lives. She hopes to bring this passion to her role and broaden her understanding of how policies can ultimately improve the quality of lives of the citizens.
What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?
I am a biomedical researcher and have a PhD in Physiology. Broadly my research focus was on high blood pressure (hypertension), and kidney disease. One arm of my research examined the impact of environmental influences during pregnancy on developmental outcomes of the kidneys and the impact of abnormalities in development on kidney and cardiovascular health in adulthood. A second arm of my research examined the safety and efficacy of device-based therapies for hypertension and kidney disease. A third arm of my research used experimental models to examine the long-term health outcomes associated with being born with a single kidney. This arm also examined if interventions early in life could prevent and delay kidney disease, hypertension and associated cardiovascular morbidities and whether we could utilise biomarkers to predict these diseases in the paediatric population living with a single kidney.
How has your research background helped you contribute to your role in the APS?
On a daily basis, I am using my scientific and academic training to conduct research, gather novel information, critically analyse relevant data and evidence and distil large amounts of complex information into simplified format for my team members. This information will hopefully contribute to processes that will guide the achievement of my agency’s vision of a digital first approach to customer service delivery by 2025. Resilience, together with the ability to adapt to changes driven by either innovation or circumstances, are capabilities I developed as a research academic. I am in the Digital Services Division of Services Australia and prior to this I had no experience of customer service or digital services, but the capabilities I built as a research academic are helping me every day to rapidly learn and gain expertise in the subject matter of digital transformation of government services.
How has the program changed your career aspirations?
If I include my honours research, then I have been a research scientist for 17 years. Undertaking this fellowship is my way of exploring where, outside of academia, my research training can be applied to make a difference. This role has definitely made me see that as scientists our capabilities can be applied in so many areas with the possibilities of making real impact. My career aspirations have always been to be in a role that will facilitate meaningful and positive impact on people lives. Since we are only 2 months into the fellowship program, it’s too early for me to say whether this role will be within the APS or somewhere else!
What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?
Undertaking this fellowship has made me see that there is a significant diversity and breadth of work within the APS and within Services Australia, my placement agency. Just over the first two months I have worked on several things and, so far, no week has been the same as the last!