Student Profile - Asvini Subasinghe

Asvini Subasinghe

Student Profile - Asvini Subasinghe

Asvini was always interested in working with disadvantaged populations. Completing her Honours year in epidemiology and science, she discovered how much she enjoyed research and also came to appreciate the significant and positive impact research can have on populations—at a local and global level.

In her Honours year, Asvini worked with School of Clinical Sciences’ supervisor Professor Amanda Thrift to analyse data on the nutritional status of a rural disadvantaged population in South India.

“My investigations showed the population was severely anaemic and underweight, and that dietary salt intake was unusually high,” said Asvini.

“Hypertension is the number one modifiable risk factor for mortality, and with my strong interest in nutritional epidemiology, I embarked on my PhD, further investigating whether diet played a role in the development of hypertension amongst the disadvantaged.”

Using case-control methodology, Asvini travelled to rural South India to collect data on diet, health status, socioeconomic factors and novel biomarkers of emerging disease on 600 adults.

“Data from my study can now be used to provide a framework for low-cost community based nutritional interventions, targeting the prevention of hypertension in disadvantaged communities in India.”

For example, educating the population about the importance of consuming iodised salt is a simple and practical means of improving iodine status.

“Rather than targeting salt intake, increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables rich in magnesium and potassium may be more effective in reducing the burden of hypertension,” added Asvini.

Asvini found her research experience at the Monash Health Translation Precinct (MHTP) both positive and rewarding.

“I felt supported by colleagues and other research staff, and with the guidance and support of my supervisor Professor Thrift, I developed strong skills in field research.”

“The remarkably diverse team of health professionals and researchers at MHTP is what makes it unique.”

“Being exposed to experts from different fields, each with their own perspective, afforded me the opportunity to develop and discover my potential as a researcher.”

Asvini is now Project Coordinator of the Young Female Health Initiative study, at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.