Q&A with Dr Suttipat Srisutham, WWARN collaborator and Project Coordinator at MORU

18 July 2017

Before becoming Project Coordinator for a Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Bangkok–based project tracking antimalarial resistance in the Greater Mekong Subregion, Dr Suttipat Srisutham spent three months at WWARN last year during his PhD studies, learning the basics of the data sharing platform. Like other early career researchers completing training or research programmes at WWARN, the Thai national says the experience helped advance his career goals and prepare him for his current activities, collecting and processing data for use in meta-analyses.

Can you tell us about your current work—what are you aiming to achieve?

SS: I work with Associate Prof Mallika Imwong (Mahidol University), collecting data on regional antimalarial resistance both to ensure the efficacy of malaria treatments, and to provide health officials with key surveillance information. With grant funding from the 5% Initiative, we are conducting a prevalence survey of resistance markers in the Greater Mekong Subregion. My main duties include extracting and mapping prevalence data on markers from published articles.

Where did you do your training?

SS: I am a molecular biologist by training, and I completed my PhD in tropical medicine earlier this year at the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University.

How did you end up at WWARN?

During my PhD studies [on falciparum malaria parasite genetics] I became interested in the use of data sharing to track antimalarial resistance; coming to WWARN was a great opportunity to learn how this is done at an operational level.

How did you cover the cost of your time at WWARN?

SS: I received support from the research fund of the Royal Golden Jubilee Ph.D. Programme, Thailand.

What did you do at WWARN?

I learned how to extract and map data from published articles, and input them into the database where they could be used for surveillance. This involved excluding certain variables and including others.

What were some of the challenges you encountered at WWARN, and how did you overcome them?

SS: Sometimes it was difficult to determine what parts of the data could be included or not, but WWARN had developed a clear standard operating procedure, so by using a step-by-step process I could solve most of the data-related problems I encountered.

What did you find most valuable about your time at WWARN?

SS: WWARN was a fantastic experience, both personally and professionally. People there were very nice, and I really benefitted from the training and mentorship. The experience definitely provided new skills that have helped me to understand and track resistance.

How specifically did your WWARN experience help prepare you for your current work?

SS: I would say WWARN helped provide a roadmap for designing studies and for knowing how to input the necessary data required for meta-analyses.

What do you think WWARN does well?

SS: WWARN provides the evidence and tools needed to create a comprehensive picture of resistance and drug efficacy. This is very useful for guiding policy in endemic regions around the world.