Dr Luna Xu, Scientia Lecturer
School of Population Health, University of NSW, National Heart Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow, CSANZ Nursing Council Executive

Throughout my career, I have received training in both Nursing and Epidemiology. In 2006, I began my career as a nurse by completing Bachelor of Science (Nursing) in China and then trained as a nurse in UK. In 2011, I completed my Master of Science (Nursing) in the University of Bedfordshire, UK. At that early stage, I had the fortunate opportunity to engage with a multi-disciplinary team, which enabled me to recognise the significance of collaborative work.

In 2012, I relocated from UK to Australia, and trained as an epidemiologist. I completed my Master of Public Health in 2013, and awarded my PhD in Epidemiology in 2016 at University of Newcastle. My PhD project explored how to reduce dietary risks in prevention of cardiovascular disease. During my Master and PhD training, I developed my skills in big data analysis.

After completing my PhD in 2016, I started my first post-doctoral job and worked on ARC linkage project of ‘Fit for Future’. The project aimed to evaluate Nurses’ health, particularly understand how to reduce unhealthy health behaviours of nurses and midwives to improve the overall health.

In 2017, I got my fellowship at University of Technology, Sydney, I established my leading project of using the data from the 45 and Up Study (the largest health and ageing study in Australia) to explore further on the how to reduce dietary risk across life span in prevention of cardiovascular disease. In 2019, with funding support from the National Heart Foundation, I awarded my post-doctoral fellowship. I extended my project by linking large survey data and administrative health data (e.g., hospitalization and mortality data) to understand sex-specific risk in preventing of cardiovascular disease over the life course. I really enjoy finding new things discovered from big data and generate new evidence in preventing and managing cardiovascular disease. I also enjoy working with clinicians and public health practitioners in translating my research findings into a real-world.

In 2020, I was selected as the UNSW Scientia academic, also appointed as an Honorary Fellow at The George Institute for Global Health and the University of Technology, Sydney. Since then, I have had the privilege to work with multidisciplinary teams in the implementation of projects in improving cardiovascular health. For example, I have led a project by working with multi-disciplinary teams including clinicians, nurses and epidemiologists in China to reduce cardiovascular risks during COVID-19 pandemic. With UNSW funding support, I am leading a project by working with a multi-disciplinary team including clinicians, epidemiologists, dietitians and software developer in implementing AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology to predict cardiovascular risks. I enjoy collaborating with multi-disciplinary teams as it brings together diverse perspective and improves decision-making. I believe by working collaboratively, we can drive positive changes in patients’ outcomes, health systems, and health policies in Australia.

Tips from Luna:

I believe that it is very common to get rejections, such as publications or grant applications. However, it is important not to take these rejections personally. Instead, it is crucial to persevere and continue working on the things you are passionate about. Also, it is important to keep an open mind and build multi-disciplinary networks to develop your career.