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Spotlight on Varnika Aggarwal

Spotlight on the ‘Humans of GenV’

 A sophisticated research project like GenV has a great many talented and passionate people working behind the scenes to create a stronger approach to child and parent health and wellbeing in Victoria. 

In our ‘Humans of GenV’ spotlight series, we aim to share the stories of the people supporting this world-leading research project. 

Meet Varnika Aggarwal GenV team member at Monash Health in Clayton and Jessie McPherson Private Hospital 

My interest in fetal and neonatal health and my passion for research led me to my role at GenV. I recently graduated university with a Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours). My Honours project was based at the Monash Children’s Hospital, where my research was focused on improving outcomes for preterm babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). I am currently continuing this research alongside working with the GenV team.  

As part of the GenV field team at Monash Health and Jessie McPherson Private Hospital, I have the opportunity to engage with people and share my excitement about such a fantastic project. I am part of a wonderful team of people that invite parents with newborn babies to get involved in our project. I visit families shortly after their baby is born and tell them about GenV, answering all their questions and helping them sign up if they want to. I love being able to meet so many people and their adorable babies as part of my job! Being able to spread awareness about GenV and contributing to the improvement of the health outcomes for many generations to come is truly rewarding.

I think GenV is such an important and revolutionary project because it provides a wealth of information for researchers. As researchers, one of the major obstacles we face is obtaining data. Having a comprehensive reserve of health data that GenV will provide for researchers will allow us to make huge leaps in scientific discoveries. GenV will help predict, prevent, and treat the common health problems of today so that future generations will not have to worry about them. 

One of the best things about being based at Monash Health is the wide diversity of families that we meet. I speak six languages (English, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, French and Korean) at varying proficiency levels and I’ve had the opportunity to speak with families in all six of these languages. We want to make sure that the GenV cohort is representative of the population, so that means we want our cohort to be as culturally diverse as the population of Victoria. Being multilingual is a very valuable skill in the field as it allows families to speak with me comfortably, fully understand what GenV involves, and make an informed decision on whether they want to be involved. 

The GenV participant information is also available in several languages, and I can’t count the number of times I’ve met parents who were genuinely delighted and appreciative of being able to view the information in their own language. I really love being able to use my language skills at GenV as they allow me to connect with families and to gain valuable additions to our CALD cohort. Every family matters! 

 As GenV establishes further at Monash Health, I am looking forward to meeting more families who already know about GenV when we go to visit them. This will mean that they already know a bit about the project and can have any questions they’d like answered ready. We want to make sure parents and guardians are making an informed decision when they join GenV so the more time they have to consider it, the better!