Researcher in Focus: Lea Wiedmann & Olimpia Lamberti

Lea Wiedmann and Olimpia Lamberti are research degree (RD) students at LSHTM. We spoke to them about their research, their advice for prospective RD students and learnt more about the new RD student lunches they are organising for GHECO members.
Lea Wiedmann (L) & Olimpia Lamberti (R)

Tell us about your research: 

Olimpia Lamberti (O): My PhD is within a larger cohort study called the Zipime Weka Schista study. My research has an epidemiological and health economics side. For the epidemiological side I am looking at the synergies and associations between different sexual and reproductive tract infections, including female genital schistosomiasis, cervical cancer, and HIV among women in Zambia. From the health economics side, I am doing a cost effectiveness analysis of different screening strategies for female genital schistosomiasis in Zambia.  

Lea Wiedmann (L): My research explores how uncertainty is considered in health technology assessment (HTA) processes for drugs for rare diseases by examining approaches taken in England and in Germany.  


What drew you to studying at LSHTM? 

L: For me, it was the Master's in Public Health, which I completed after a Master's at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE). My PhD project evolved out of my LSHTM MSc summer project.  

O: I'm enrolled on the Joint PhD Programme for Global Health between LSHTM and Nagasaki University in Japan. When I was deciding between PhD programmes, I was intrigued by the combination of the two universities. I chose LSHTM as my main university because it's really specialised in neglected tropical diseases and infectious diseases which my area of research falls within. 


What advice do you have for prospective research degree students? 

L: Apply! There is a real sense of community among RD students at LSHTM and lots of support. There is also a lot of interdisciplinarity across and within Departments which I like, people coming from different backgrounds and with different forms of expertise – it feels like everybody can fit in with their ideas.  

If you’re thinking of applying, go for it. Try to get in touch with researchers here and ask them for advice or to point you towards the right contact person. Once you are enrolled as a student you can access a wealth of knowledge in different areas which is a great experience.  

O: Try and speak to as many people as possible before applying, ranging from current PhD students that have been through the process, to potential supervisors and people in the teams of potential supervisors to really understand how they work and what the team dynamics are. This will help you understand if it will be a good fit.  

Once you’ve joined LSHTM, don’t be afraid to get involved in GHECO activities, we are a lovely bunch of people and there is so much that you can get out of the theme meetings. There are many opportunities to present your research and get feedback. It is a great place to be.  


Where do you hope to see your research going in the future? 

L: Published! 😊 

O: No, let's say something a bit more inspirational! 

L: Alright! With my PhD, I’m trying to contribute to our understanding about approaches to deal with uncertainty in HTA processes, specifically for drugs for rare diseases, I’m hopeful that this can inform resource allocation decisions in healthcare systems. It would also enable better consistency in the decision-making processes, and potentially improve patient access to drugs. 

I’m working on a comparative study of two countries, England and Germany, so my research can provide insights into different approaches for evaluating evidence and how we can analyse and interpret clinical and economic evidence for drugs for rare diseases across countries.  

O: For me, more generally, I’d like to see screening for sexual and reproductive health infections to be more integrated in the health systems of sub-Saharan African countries. From a health economics perspective, I would like to contribute to a better understanding of what the health system capacity is for screening for sexual and reproductive health infections in different countries so that they can be treated effectively and improve the health of affected populations. 


Tell us about the research degree student lunches you have set up: 

L: The GHECO RD student lunches will involve a presentation from one of our peers, followed by lunch which we are grateful to receive some funding for. All RD students who are GHECO members are welcome to join and can present if they want to.  

O: We’ve had one lunch so far where another RD student presented her work. We asked questions and sought advice. It was very helpful – I’ve since got back in touch with the speaker to ask her help with something I’m working on. I didn’t know she was working on the same thing before, so it was a great opportunity to connect. We are hoping to have one lunch per quarter. 

L: The next lunch will be on 26 October October, once new students have joined.  


Where can interested RD students learn more? 

O: Make sure you join the #research-degree-student-forum on Slack for more details and say hello if you’re ever in the new TP2 building!  


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