Guest researcher Giulia Dallagiacoma has defended her thesis on RSV prevention and completed her specialty medical training.
Dr Giulia Dallagiacoma graduated from medical school at the University of Pavia, Italy, where she also recently completed her specialty in Public Health and Preventive Medicine. As part of her specialty training, she had the opportunity to visit another university and therefore joined Karolinska Institutet as a guest researcher to write her thesis project on RSV prevention among children.
"Throughout the years, my research activity has mostly focused on vaccinations and vaccine preventable diseases, from the implementation and assessment of vaccination programs to the determinants of vaccine hesitancy, both among the general population and healthcare workers" says Giulia Dallagiacoma.
With a background in public health, she wanted to explore global public health and was particularly interested in child health. When looking for a host university to do an internship for her thesis as part of her specialty medical training, she retells looking up Karolinska Institutet and enjoyed reading about the various ongoing projects.
"I found the website of the Global Child Health and Sustainable Development Goals team. The message from the team leader Tobias Alfvén in the team’s information brochure sounded welcoming and encouraged readers to reach out, so I did and now I am here".
Reviewing non-pharmaceutical interventions against RSV
As Giulia previously in Italy had worked on vaccine preventable diseases especially among children, she found a good opportunity that fit her within a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) prevention project. Her thesis project, that she defended in July 2023, is titled The impact of school holidays on Respiratory Syncytial Virus transmission in Sweden: an interrupted time series analysis.
"As no vaccines against RSV have been licenced for children yet, non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) are one of the main strategies for the prevention of RSV transmission to newborns. I decided to focus on RSV prevention as there are many unsolved questions such as the role of siblings and school holidays in preventing the spreading of the virus".
Giulia has collected information from different European health agencies on recommended measures and NPIs and found that there is a significant difference between countries’ guidelines. For example, is Sweden one of only two countries that recommended keeping older siblings home from preschool if there was a newborn in the family, despite there being mixed evidence for its effectiveness. She stresses the need for evaluation of NPIs to optimize their effectiveness and adapt to changing RSV patterns.
New skills and experiences
During her time in Sweden, Giulia has presented at the European Scientific Conference on Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology (ESCAIDE) in Stockholm and the World Congress on Public Health in Rome. She was also asked to present her research project to colleagues at one of the bi-monthly team meetings.
"I have enjoyed being part of an international department and meeting people with different professions from all over the world. When talking to members of different teams and projects there has been encouraging discussions and interesting knowledge sharing".
She continues to describe the new skills she acquired during her internship.
"It has been interesting to learn how to analyse data sets and the Stata analysis tool which was new to me, and I hope to apply the method I have learnt to larger data sets. Throughout the project my main supervisor Samuel Rhedin has been helpful in teaching me and I learnt a lot working with him and others from KI".
The whole Global Child Health and Sustainable Development Goals team congratulate Giulia on completing her thesis and medical specialty training!
Do your internship with us
If you are intrested in doing an internship or writing your thesis project with the Global Child Health and Sustainable Development Goals team, feel free to reach out to our team leader Professor Tobias Alfvén: firstname.lastname@example.org