Dr Vanessa Selak
MBChB, MPH (Hons), PhD, FAFPHM, FNZCPHM
Vanessa is a Senior Lecturer in the Section of Epidemiology & Biostatistics at the School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland. She is medically trained, has a PhD in Epidemiology and is a fellow of the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine. Vanessa's research is focused on using epidemiological tools to balance the benefits and harms of strategies with the potential to significantly reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease. She is the Course Director of Quality in Health Care, one of the compulsory papers for the University of Auckland's Master of Health Leadership. Vanessa also works at Waitemata District Health Board's Institute of Improvement and Innovation (i3).
Research | Current
Vanessa had a lead role in the in the planning, conduct and analysis of the IMProving Adherence using Combination Therapy (IMPACT) polypill trial, a pragmatic randomised controlled trial of over 500 patients in primary care. This trial formed the basis of her PhD and Vanessa was the lead author of the British Medical Journal-published results paper.
Vanessa is a key contributor to the multinational SPACE (Single Pill to Avert Cardiovascular Events) collaboration, which undertakes individual participant data meta-analyses of pragmatic polypill trials (including IMPACT).
Vanessa was commissioned by the World Health Organization to prepare a report on the status of the evidence for polypill-based therapy for cardiovascular disease.
A key finding of Vanessa's thesis was the need for individualised bleeding risk assessment to support decision-making on the use of aspirin for primary prevention. Vanessa is the principle investigator of an HRC-funded grant that is developing a bleeding risk equation to support such assessment, using a cohort of approximately half a million people and their linked health data from national and regional repositories. This equation will be able to be integrated into primary care through an electronic decision support programme, so that individualised bleeding and cardiovascular risk are assessed at the same time, helping clinicians to identify people likely to have net-benefit from aspirin.
Vanessa's bleeding risk equation is being developed with the University of Auckland's Vascular Informatics Using Epidemiology and the Web (VIEW) team, and Vanessa has become an increasing contributor to the important work being done by this team.
Teaching | Current
POPLHLTH 724 - Quality in Health Care
MBChB - year 5
MBChB - year 6
Vanessa is acutely aware of the gaps in our ability to use health data to support improvements in health care quality through her DHB, research and teaching roles. She is currently working across all of these roles to develop, with Dr Katrina Poppe, a curriculum for New Zealand health data analytics. This curriculum will be informed by their expertise, the expertise of the VIEW team within Epidemiology & Biostatics, Vanessa's linkages with DHB clinicians, analysts and managers, and Katrina's linkages with statistics and computing science, along with international experts in data analytics and predictive modelling. Vanessa and Katrina will be delivering a new course (Navigating the New Zealand health data landscape) in Semester 2 2018 and will be planning additional courses along with specific career pathways that are aligned with the needs of academia and health services.
2015 Nominated for Vice-Chancellor's Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis
2010 National Heart Foundation Research Fellow
2004 John McLeod Prize in Public Health
Areas of expertise
Health data analytics
Quality in health care
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Selak, V., Elley, C. R., Bullen, C., Crengle, S., Wadham, A., Rafter, N., ... Arroll, B. (2014). Effect of fixed dose combination treatment on adherence and risk factor control among patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease: randomised controlled trial in primary care. BMJ, 348.10.1136/bmj.g3318
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Matire Harwood, Rob Doughty, Raina Elley, Bruce Arroll, Rodney Jackson, Richard Milne, Varsha Parag, Christopher Bullen
- Selak, V., Crengle, S., Elley, C. R., Wadham, A., Harwood, M., Rafter, N., ... Rodgers, A. (2013). Recruiting equal numbers of indigenous and non-indigenous participants to a 'polypill' randomized trial. International Journal for Equity in Health, 12.10.1186/1475-9276-12-44
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Christopher Bullen, Matire Harwood, Avinesh Pillai, Raina Elley, Bruce Arroll
- Elley, C. R., Gupta, A. K., Webster, R., Selak, V., Jun, M., Patel, A., ... Thom, S. (2012). The efficacy and tolerability of 'polypills': meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. PLoS One, 7 (12).10.1371/journal.pone.0052145
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raina Elley
- Selak, V., Elley, C. R., Crengle, S., Harwood, M., Doughty, R., Arroll, B., ... Wadham, A. (2011). Improving Adherence using Combination Therapy (IMPACT): design and protocol of a randomised controlled trial in primary care. Contemp Clin Trials, 32 (6), 909-915. 10.1016/j.cct.2011.07.006
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Susan Wells, Rodney Jackson, Bruce Arroll, Raina Elley, Matire Harwood, Rob Doughty, Richard Milne
- Selak, V., Raina Elley, C., Wells, S., Rodgers, A., & Sharpe, N. (2010). Aspirin for primary prevention: Yes or no?. Journal of Primary Health Care, 2 (2), 92-99.
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Raina Elley, Susan Wells