Research grant unlocks opportunity for FNU student

Press Release Posted On: February 19, 2021

CMNHS Associate Dean Research, Dr Donald Wilson while presenting the scholarship offer letter to Alvina Karan.

Alvina Karan, a Masters of Public Health student at the Fiji National University’s (FNU) College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) has been awarded a prestigious scholarship by the Fiji Institute of Pacific Health Research (FIPHR).

Karan is the inaugural recipient of the $5, 000 Master’s Scholarship funded by The George Institute (TGI) for Global Health Australia, to be administered by the Pacific Research Centre for the Prevention of Obesity (C-POND), a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention and Management based at the FIPHR at CMNHS, FNU.

“Being the first recipient of this scholarship means a lot to me. I am very grateful for this opportunity which will allow me to continue my research and present valuable findings to the people of Fiji,” said the FNU student.

Karan joined the FNU’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (formerly known as Fiji School of Medicine) in 2000 as a Diploma in Dietetics student. She later completed her Bachelor of Dietetics and Nutrition and has most recently graduated with a Post Graduate Diploma in Public Health.

“This scholarship opportunity can be challenging as well because being the first recipient also means that you are setting a stepping stone for the others to follow and I am willing to take this challenge,” she said.

Highlighting on her health research, the Senior Nutritionist at the Ministry of Health’s National Food and Nutrition Centre mentioned the focus is towards fighting Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) by identifying sodium (salt) content in food products.

“I will have to go through every food and packaged items on the shelves of supermarkets to identify the amount of sodium they have and also compare that to previous data to see if there have been changes in the level of salt or sodium in the food.”

While congratulating Karan, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences (CMNHS) Dean, Dr William May said the achievement is a significant milestone for the College.

“It will boost research capacity for students enrolled in the Master’s programme at CMNHS, who will also acquire mentorship by experts within TGI and the University of New South Wales of which TGI is affiliated to,” stated Dr William May.

CMNHS Associate Dean Research, Dr Donald Wilson commented that the collaborative research grant will support the pursuit of innovative and relevant research on health problems that affect our people, and in the process, build research capacity in our students and staff.

“At FIPHR, our vision is to be a model of excellence in ground-breaking, impactful, relevant and ethical health research in the region, generating local evidence to address health and wellness and inform the region’s health outcomes in the future,” mentioned Dr Wilson.

A Professor at The George Institute (TGI) for Global Health Australia, Jacqui Webster said: “the objective of the Seed Fund Scheme is to support students to undertake health research on topics agreed between FNU and TGI with a view to building the capacity of students and strengthening ongoing collaboration between both institutions.”

FIPHR is the research arm of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.