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Melody Ding at microscope

Facts & figures

Our research

  • #3 in Australia and #34 in the world for public health ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2021
  • Highest rating Excellence in Research Australia rankings 2020
  • #3 in the world 2021 QS Subject Rankings for public health research into sports and physical activity
  • Top-cited researcher list Professor Emeritus Adrian Bauman and Professor Don Nutbeam for 2020
Research_

Research at Sydney School of Public Health

Dare to challenge the status quo
Our public health research aims to improve health, wellbeing and fairness and boost healthcare outcomes on the global stage. We produce research that is evidence-based, relevant and impactful across numerous research areas.

About public health research

At the Sydney School of Public Health we are passionate about research that creates knowledge and fosters innovation to improve population health. Our research is evidence-based, relevant and impactful, and focuses on new discovery as well as translating existing knowledge into improved healthcare outcomes. 

We are a leader in a number of research areas including health policyhealth promotion and prevention of disease and disabilities, among others. Our internationally-recognised researchers are motivated by the need to improve health globally, and have interests that embrace the ethical, social, economic and environmental causes of health.

Continuing a century as the leading public health research institution in Australia, our research aims to challenge the status quo and advances rigorous methods to improve health, wellbeing and fairness in Australia and overseas. As its core, our research:

  • improves health outcomes, wellbeing and society
  • supports decision making, policy and practice through evidence and advocacy
  • employs rigorous and innovative methods
  • integrates equity, ethics and sustainability
  • engages locally and globally.

Areas of research excellence

The Sydney School of Public Health is home to some of the most highly cited researchers in the world, including many whose research informs policy and practice in Australia and internationally. We conduct research across a broad range of health areas, which span across many of the Faculty of Medicine and Health's major research areas, and beyond.

Academics in the School of Public Health are leading members of the various bodies influencing Australia’s COVID response at national and state levels.

Professors Tom Snelling and Andrew Wilson sit on the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and Professors Kirsten Howard and Angus Dawson are members of the ATAGI subgroup on vaccine utilisation and prioritisation. Academics such as Associate Professor Melody Ding, Dr Julie Ayre and the Health Literacy Lab team, and Dr Fiona Stanaway, Professor Alexandra Martiniuk and Professor Angela Webster have all made critical contributions to aspects of the COVID response through research studies on epidemiology, COVID co-morbidities, and behavioural science. 

Additionally, the School is proud of our alumni leading the COVID policy response including Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, former Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth, and NSW Deputy Chief Health Officer Jeremy McAnulty.

Meet our COVID-19 researchers

We conduct and implement high-priority research in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care of people with, or at risk of, chronic kidney disease and related conditions. Our research and teaching expertise spans epidemiology, biostatistics, health economics, qualitative methods, and evidence synthesis; which we apply to chronic kidney disease and other health conditions.

Key researchers

  • Professor Allison Tong, Clinical Research Leader, Centre for Kidney Research
  • Professor Armando Teixeira-Pinto, Clinical Research Leader, Centre for Kidney Research
  • Professor Angela Webster, Clinical Research Leader, Centre for Kidney Research
  • Dr Martin Howell, Clinical Research Leader, Centre for Kidney Research

Meet our researchers in chronic kidney disease

Centre for Kidney Research

Our clinical research program at the Centre for Kidney Research (CKR) sits within the nephrology department of the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and conducts broad-ranging research to improve outcomes in children and adults with, or at risk of, kidney disease.

Our research in this area is aimed at understanding how we can support health consumers to make better health decisions, with the aim of influencing policy and achieving better health outcomes for all. This means supporting health literacy, communication and patient/policy decision making.

Key researchers

Meet our researchers in communication and choice 

Sydney Health Literacy Lab

The Sydney Health Literacy Lab aims to develop and test interventions and practical solutions to improve health literacy in a range of community and healthcare settings. Our goal is to support people make better health decisions and achieve better health outcomes, no matter their education, age or cultural background.

Our research in environment and climate investigates the intersection between human health, environment and climate change, so that we can better understand how climate change will impact our communities, particularly vulnerable populations, and prepare and adapt as the global climate changes.

Key researchers

Meet our researchers in environment and climate

Sustainability, Climate and Health Collaboration

The Sustainability, Climate and Health Collaboration (SCHC) was established in late 2020 and hosted by School of Public Health, University of Sydney. The SCHC aims to enhance and promote collaborations in research and build capacity to address sustainability, climate and health.

Climate Change, Human Health and Social Impacts Research Node

The Climate Change, Human Health and Social Impacts Node is a partnership between the Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Health and The University of Sydney. The goal of the research node is to inform adaptation programs that seek to protect and promote health in NSW, in the face of a changing climate.

Watershed Interventions for Systems Health in Fiji

The Watershed Interventions for Systems Health in Fiji (WISH Fiji) project works with national and local government, rural communities and the commercial sector in Fiji to transform the ability of integrated systems to predict, prevent, respond and recover from water-related diseases and natural disasters.

Our research addresses ethical issues as they relate to a wide range of topics including public health, clinical, research, animal, biotechnology (including genetic technology and genomics), drug policy and development. Our mission is to achieve a positive social impact by engaging in academic and public conversations about the ethics of health and wellbeing.

Key researchers

Meet our researchers in ethics and values

Sydney Health Ethics

Sydney Health Ethics, one of the largest bioethics centres in the world, conducts research and teaching in bioethics and health-related social science using multidisciplinary methods. Our mission is to achieve a positive social impact by engaging in academic and public conversations about the ethics of health and wellbeing.

We conduct public health and nutrition research on a global scale through a number of international studies and collaborations. We aim to create research that can be translated into government and industry policy to improve health and nutrition of communities around the world.

Key researchers

Meet our researchers in global public health and nutrition

HAPPeN Trial

The Household Air Pollution and Perinatal & early Neonatal Mortality (HAPPeN) Trial is an international study that aims to identify the impact of traditional stoves and fuels on stillbirth and early neonatal death in Bangladesh. The study is being conducted by an experienced and multi-disciplinary team of recognised research leaders from the University of Sydney, the International Center for Diarrhoeal Disease Research and Research Triangle International.

The Health and Clinical Analytics team aims to be at the forefront of learning health systems research by providing evidence for immediate application to healthcare. Our research programs span across different clinical disciplines and includes focus areas such as comparative effectiveness studies, pragmatic and adaptive clinical trials, causal modelling and designing digital health initiatives to embed research into routine healthcare.

Key researchers

Meet our researchers in health and clinical analytics

Our research in primary healthcare is focused on strengthening the delivery of primary services through the study of general practice and general practitioners (GPs), including the characteristics and frequency of GP visits and GP-patient interactions. Our research in this area has delivered over 100 bespoke reports to inform and support key business decisions and government.

Meet our researchers in health services 

Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH)

Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) is the most valid, reliable general practitioner (GP) dataset in Australia, with almost 1.8 million GP-patient encounter records from 1998 to 2016. BEACH data is used for analysis and reporting on the content of GP-patient encounters.

Musculoskeletal health research in the Sydney School of Public Health is conducted through the Institute for Musculoskeletal HealthThe insitute focuses on research that delivers a real-world impact with the direct involvement of the public.

Key researchers

  • Professor Chris Maher, Director, Institute of Musculoskeletal Health
  • Professor Cathie Sherrington, Deputy Director, Institute of Musculoskeletal Health
  • Professor Jane Latimer, Deputy Director, Institute of Musculoskeletal Health

Meet our researchers in musculoskeletal, bone and joint health

Institute of Musculoskeletal Health

The Institute of Musculoskeletal Health brings together patients and clinicians with world-leading musculoskeletal health researchers from the Sydney School of Public Health. Our partnership between the Sydney Local Health District and the University of Sydney provides a platform to strengthen clinician-researcher alliances, and improve the translation of the University's research into the community.

This area aims to explore and identify the way we can prevent ill-health and promote wellbeing in society across a range of health areas. Through research, we aim to not only reduce the burden of disease on society, but also create research-informed change in practice, management and policy.

Our research is multidisciplinary and draws from a range of skill sets both within the University and other research institutions. This theme covers research in:

  • cancer epidemiology and prevention
  • complex program evaluation
  • digital technologies and health
  • disease prevention
  • epidemiology
  • health promotion and public health interventions
  • implementation science
  • nutrition
  • obesity prevention
  • physical activity and sport
  • primary prevention
  • skin cancer
  • systems and solutions
  • tobacco control.

Key researchers

  • Emeritus Professor Adrian Bauman, Prevention Research Collaboration and Co-Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity
  • Associate Professor Philayrath Phongsavan, Director, Prevention Research Collaboration
  • Associate Professor Melody Ding, Chief Investigator, Prevention Research Collaboration
  • Professor Ben Smith, Chief Investigator, Prevention Research Collaboration
  • Associate Professor Becky Freeman, Chief Investigator, Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research Group
  • Professor Louise Baur, Executive, Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (EPOCH) Group
  • Professor Andrew Wilson, Director, The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (TAPPC)

Meet our researchers in prevention 

The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (TAPPC)
The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre is a national collaboration of researchers, policy makers and practitioners who are working together to identify new ways of understanding what works and what doesn’t to prevent lifestyle-related chronic health problems in Australia.
Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (EPOCH) Group

The Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (EPOCH) group aims to reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related behaviours in the first five years of life, and their future impact. The group brings together a diverse team of experts from around Australia and the world to bridge the current gaps in research, practice and policy and help improve the health outcomes for children as they grow into adulthood.

Prevention Research Collaboration

The Prevention Research Collaboration (PRC) is a specialised research group with expertise in public health nutrition, physical activity, obesity prevention, epidemiology and health promotion research, as well as other aspects of primary prevention. The PRC has an applied research focus and actively facilitates the application and translation of research knowledge into policy and practice.

WHO Collaborating Centre for Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity

The World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity (CCPANO) aims to increase the role of prevention in reducing non-communicable diseases including obesity, diabetes, chronic lung diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

SALSA and Triple A Education Programs

The Students As Lifestyle Activists (SALSA) and Adolescent Asthma Action (Triple A) Education Programs are peer-led prevention programs dedicated to educating high school students with the knowledge and skills to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle and improve the wellbeing of students with asthma.

Program contact: Associate Professor Smita Shah

We aim to build sustainable healthcare systems through policy change and practical innovation. Our team includes experts in health policy and researchers who examine the ways to prevent overdiagnosis and overtreatment of disease.

Key researchers

  • Professor Andrew Wilson, Co-Director, Menzies Centre for Health Policy and Economics
  • Professor Alexandra Barratt, Chief Investigator, Wiser Healthcare
  • Professor Chris Maher, Chief Investigator, Wiser Healthcare
  • Professor Chris Semsarian, Chief Investigator, Wiser Healthcare
  • Professor Ian Kerridge, Chief Investigator, Wiser Healthcare
  • Professor Kirsten Howard, Chief Investigator, Wiser Healthcare; Co-Director, Menzies Centre for Health Policy and Economics
  • Professor Kirsten McCaffery, Chief Investigator, Wiser Healthcare

Meet our researchers in sustainability 

Menzies Centre for Health Policy

The Menzies Centre for Health Policy conducts health policy research, analysis, advice and education. We focus on improving public health outcomes through policy innovation and practical implementation. The centre encourages informed debate about how Australians can influence health policy to ensure policies that are able to deliver safe, high-quality health care that is sustainable in the long term.

Wiser Healthcare

Wiser Healthcare is a research collaboration for reducing overdiagnosis and overtreatment in the areas of cancer, cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal disorders, with a particular focus on overdiagnosis caused by imaging (like CT scans and MRI scans), testing biomarkers (for example, blood tests like the Prostate Specific Antigen test), and genetic tests.

Researcher profiles

Latest research