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Transdisciplinary teams working at the intersection of computer science, data science, systems science, and behavioral sciences will usher in a new generation of scientific progress. 

Jo-An Atkinson

Managing director , csart

Associate Professor Atkinson is Managing Director of CSART and Director of Decision Analytics at the Sax Institute, Australia. She leads a transdisciplinary team that uses dynamic systems modelling and simulation to provide policy makers and program planners with sophisticated decision support tools to facilitate strategic investments to improve the health and wellbeing of populations. These tools are being used by health departments and service planners to forecast the impact of alternative decision options before they are implemented in the real world; saving both time and resources. A/Prof. Atkinson and her team work in partnership with government departments, policy agencies, program planners, researchers, and civil society in the health and social sectors, and implement a participatory approach to model development. This approach facilitates the transparency and credibility of the decision support tools developed. In bringing together researchers and cross sectoral stakeholders with policy end users and deeply engaging them in the process of developing these models, the developed tools incorporate context specific insights from policy and practice, are driven by policy priorities, and help build consensus for collaborative action. Applications of this work have included suicide prevention, mental health service planning, tobacco control, reduction in alcohol related harms, childhood overweight and obesity, diabetes in pregnancy, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, state-level health system planning to improve hospital performance, child protection, and homelessness.  These computer simulation models are being used to support decisions at national, state, and local levels to improve population health and wellbeing in Australia.

A/Prof. Atkinson has more than 20 years’ experience in health service delivery and clinical research in Australia, as well as international public health research to inform strategies for disease control and elimination in the Asia-Pacific region. She is committed to transdisciplinary research, open science, achieving more routine use of computer simulation to inform health and social policy, and fostering partnerships between policy agencies, research institutions, and civil society to facilitate capacity building innovation and research translation to improve population health.