17 May 2012

ISDS May Member Highlight: Dr. Louise Wilson

ISDS is happy to introduce this month's ISDS Member Highlight: Dr. Louise Wilson. Last month, ISDS began the ISDS Member Highlight project as a way to highlight member achievements, interests, and inspirations in an effort to showcase successful and highly active ISDS members. The May ISDS Member Highlight will introduce Dr. Louise Wilson, who is the ISDS Global Outreach Committee Chair.
How did you first learn about disease surveillance and when did you decide that it was an area of interest for you? 
As a paediatric intensivist I had a practical interest in disease surveillance, but it was whilst working in public health at Health Protection Scotland that I became interested in syndromic surveillance and biostatistical approaches to disease surveillance.
What do you do?
I work in the National Health System and I am the Director of Public Health for Orkney, a beautiful archipelago off the north coast of Scotland. 
What do you enjoy most about your job? 
I love the variety of work to be covered - with the additional challenge of delivering preventative services in the remote and rural setting.  
What excites you in the work you do? 
Everything! For me it is a privilege to work in the NHS and serve the local community. I’m lucky to work with some really dedicated people.
Who or what inspires you professionally? 
I’ve been fortunate to work in a number of countries and had many great teachers. However, when I graduated, I worked for a paediatic surgeon, Willie Bisset, who was simply inspirational in his dedication and approach to patients, colleagues and work.
How long have you been involved with ISDS?
I have been involved with ISDS since 2006, when I presented a poster in Baltimore. I now chair the Global Outreach Committee.
Why are you an ISDS member?  
I think the society is a great way to make surveillance techniques widely available and share best practice. It enables me to bring the best of cutting-edge practice to my local practice. I particularly enjoy supporting the work of the society as it focuses on surveillance in the global setting.
What do you value most about your ISDS membership? 
The connectivity it provides is important for me – I feel part of a great community. That is particularly important when working in a remote setting. The approachability of members, their willingness to share their ideas, and the mix of backgrounds of people involved with ISDS makes it special. The annual conference is a real highlight of the year for me – I love putting faces to the names of people I’ve been working with over the year and meeting new people.
What is the biggest issue in disease surveillance (in your opinion)? 
For me it is the challenge of making surveillance practical and usable for the front line staff – so that we reduce morbidity and save lives. The shift from theoretical to practical solutions is crucial.
If you could meet anyone living or deceased, who would it be? 

The “enchantress of numbers” Ada Lovelace (1815-52). She was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron and worked with Charles Babbage

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