Q and A with Lisa Keay: Ageing and Injury

How long have you been working at The George Institute?

I have been working at the George Institute since 2007, though I was in the US for 2 years before joining on-site at the Sydney office in January 2009 – 7 or 5 year anniversary this month.

What attracted you to working at The George Institute?

Like many, I was already familiar with The George Institute’s reputation and was impressed with the scope of work being done and the mission of the institute. The opportunity to work in a global organisation, surrounded by people who I can learn from is ideal for building a career in public health research.

What are you currently working on?

I work on several projects within a theme of ageing and injury. I lead a randomised controlled trial of a safe mobility program for older drivers in the suburban outskirts of Sydney which will conclude in 2014. I also lead the FOCUS studies, which commenced in 2013 and look at the implications of unoperated cataract on falls risk, driving ability and quality of life for older people. Cataract affects a large proportion of older people and the findings of this research can inform optimal management. I am also developing falls prevention programs for older people with low vision and blindness.

What is a recent highlight?

A recent highlight was securing funding for the Safe Mobility project. This supports a great team at The George Institute and the use of some exciting new technology to directly measure driving habits with GPS and telecommunications systems, live in our study participants’ own cars.

What difference will this make to healthcare and why?

Road crash involvement can cause death and injury so while promoting safety of older drivers is important, we also need to recognise the importance of being active, independent and mobile. Our program promotes informed choices about driving and provides support for using other forms of transport. This will provide much needed data to support policy decisions and spending in this area.

What is your professional background?

I originally trained as an optometrist before completing a PhD in epidemiology and Masters of Public Health. I did my post-doc at an ophthalmology department at Johns Hopkins University and have moved into injury prevention research with focus on older people, disadvantaged populations and vision impairment.

Why do you enjoy working at The George Institute?

Every day is different. There are always new challenges and opportunities. The culture at The George Institute is positive and it is a vibrant academic environment.

To explain to people what I do I say….

I work on solutions to promote health and prevent injuries.

I work at The George Institute because…..

I am happy to get out of bed each day and come to the office.

To unwind at the end of the day I….

Chill out with my family and play sport with friends.

My first job was….

Picking strawberries at a market garden in northwest Sydney.

My biggest achievement so far….

Being awarded my post-doctoral fellowship to work in the US and at The George Institute.