Meet the Researcher! Peter Barrett talks about his work

We recently published a Young Researcher Editorial on adverse pregnancy outcomes. We thought it was quite interesting, so we invited the author, Dr. Peter Barrett (PB) for a short interview to learn more about him and his work. Enjoy, leave a comment and follow Peter on twitter @petermbarrett1!

IJPH: Hello Peter! Tell us a bit about your background and your connection to public health research

PB: I am a public health doctor from Ireland. I have just completed my specialist training in public health medicine which involved clinical placements and academic training in Cork, Dublin, Cambridge and Stockholm. Over the last three years I have been undertaking a PhD in epidemiology in University College Cork using large-scale datasets from Sweden.

IJPH: You recently published an Editorial in IJPH. What would you say is its most important message? 

PB: My PhD has been focused on the epidemiological associations between pregnancy-related complications and the risk of chronic disease in women many years later. This editorial focuses on the public health implications of my work. The most important message is that pregnancy history can offer important insights for chronic disease prevention in women. If we know which women have experienced adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia or preterm delivery, then we can – and should – use this information to mitigate their heightened risk of heart disease and kidney disease. This information needs to be shared with patients and clinicians in practice – at the moment I’m not sure that is happening ‘on the ground’.

IJPH: This Editorial is part of the IJH YRE series. How did you first hear about it and how was your experience being a part of it?

PB: My PhD has quite a clinical focus, but I really wanted to bring out some of the core public health messages behind the work. One day last summer I was reading an editorial in the IJPH and noticed that it was a Young Researcher Editorial, so I looked in to it a little further and realised that I would be eligible to submit my work for this series. I had a very positive experience of the whole process. This editorial allowed me to focus on some of the broader public health implications of my PhD work, but it still had to go through the same rigorous peer review process as other manuscripts.

IJPH: As a young scientist, what do you enjoy most about public health research? What are the biggest challenges? 

PB: I enjoy the rigour and variety of public health research. With every project, I learn something new – whether it’s how to improve my scientific writing, new statistical methods, or how to ensure my research remains relevant in an ever-changing field. As for the challenges, sometimes the peer review process can be tricky. It is great to get objective feedback on your work, but you wouldn’t want to be overly sensitive to reviewers’ comments… I’ve learned to grow a thick skin!

IJPH: What are your future research goals? 

PB: My goal is to combine my academic public health research with clinical/service work in to the future. I enjoy working across both settings, and I think that doing so can enhance opportunities for knowledge translation. We shouldn’t be working in silos, and can ultimately achieve better research outcomes through joint working across academic and clinical settings. I think the pandemic has really shown the need for more research-active public health doctors.

IJPH: Thank you, Peter and good luck for your future work!

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