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Sydney Vietnam Initiative

Improving lives through collaborative research and education

We aspire to improve the lives of people and communities in Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia, by building partnerships in high quality collaborative research and education. 

The Sydney Vietnam Initiative is a collaboration of multi-disciplinary researchers who seek to expand the lives of communities and individuals in Vietnam via education and research.

The University of Sydney engages in Vietnam in a wide range of areas such as teaching, research, recruitment, and student mobility. The Sydney Vietnam Initiative provides a focus for a “Vietnam Strategy” by acting as a common structure for further efficiency and aiding in leveraging activities to scale up engagement.

Our vision is to be a leading multi-disciplinary regional network of researchers and educators, working together to develop the evidence required to improve the lives of individuals, societies, and the environments within which they live.

What's new

Nguyen Minh Duc and his former PhD advisor, Associate Professor Tiho, School of Economics, are working on a research project titled "Valuation of Forest Ecosystems in the North West of Vietnam for Improved Rural and Regional Development".

Vietnam is at the global forefront when it comes to the use of incentive-based mechanisms for recognising the value of forest ecosystem services. This is achieved through the Payments for Forest Ecosystem Services (PFES) program. The objective of the project is to estimate the values derived from critical ecosystem services provided by forests in Northwest Vietnam. The project results will provide critical knowledge on the values of forest ecosystem services, which is essential for improving existing policies for forest management and for rural and regional development of one of the least developed regions in Vietnam.

The time that Duc is spending in Sydney is critical for completing the research project. Working closely together, Duc and Tiho are sharpening the theoretical foundations and analytical frameworks in this field of research. They are also finalising a manuscript on evaluating the existing payment for forest ecosystem services program in Vietnam that is planned to be published next year.

The Woolcock Institute Vietnam co-organised a community event to celebrate the launch of the VRESIST community study in Thach That District, Hanoi. Held on 23 November 2019, the launch was a part of the World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

The event was hosted by the local District People’s Committee, aiming at increasing the awareness of the appropriate use of antibiotics. The audience included around 300 local mothers, elderly, parents, and teachers with an interest in the health of their families and communities.

The event had the participation of senior stakeholders working in antimicrobial resistance in Vietnam, including the Vietnam Ministry of Health Medical Services Administration, the World Health Organization in Vietnam, the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, and the Hanoi University of Pharmacy.

In collaboration with the Bach Mai h=Hospital and GE Healthcare, and with funding from the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, Prof. Patrick Brennan, Dr. Yun Trieu and seven students from St Matthew's Catholic School Mudgee's Outreach Program, ran the BREAST Study in Hanoi from 22-29 November 2019.

The project aimed to explore the improvement of Vietnamese radiologists in reading mammograms via BREAST test sets. The work was conducted following the success of two BREAST workshops organised in Hanoi in 2016 and in Ho Chi Minh City in 2018.

More information on the BREAST Study is available here

The workshop ran between the 9-13th December and was organised by Dr Bob Fisher, Professor Philip Hirsch and Dr To Xuan Phuc at the Hanoi National University of Education, Hanoi.

The workshop combined plenary, group, and individual work approaches. The plenary approach was used when lecturers/mentors shared information with participants on major topics (e.g. how to use theory, how to construct argument) when all participants attended the lecture. Group work was applied when participants of each group worked with one another (e.g. comment on the work of other group members). The individual approach was implemented when participants worked on their own papers.
A total of 16 papers were divided into three groups according to their common themes/topics. Dr Bob Fisher, Professor Philip Hirsch and Dr To Xuan Phuc served as mentors/discussants during the course of the workshop and worked closely with the assigned group.

Sydney Vietnam Initiative Academic Leaders Dr Nguyen Thu Anh and Associate Professor Gregory Fox recently participated in the 24th Congress of the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR 2019) in Hanoi, Vietnam. The event ran from 14-17 November 2019 and attracted approximately 2000 delegates from across the globe. The congress provided a platform for exchanging clinical and scientific knowledge on respiratory related diseases.

The team from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, a research institute affiliated with the University of Sydney, made three presentations about their work in infectious diseases and chronic lung disease.

The congress provided an opportunity for networking and sharing experiences potentially leading to better practices in respiratory healthcare.

Showcasing partnerships between The University of Sydney and Vietnam

On 30th August 2019, the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and the Sydney Vietnam Academic Leadership Group hosted the second annual Sydney Vietnam Research Symposium.

The event aimed to foster interdisciplinary research and education between The University of Sydney and partners in Vietnam. The event theme was “improving lives through collaborative research.” The Symposium attendees consisted of researchers from faculties including Science, Medicine and Health, Health Science, Agriculture, Arts and Social Science, and the University of Sydney Business School. The event provided an opportunity for multidisciplinary members of the wider University community and beyond, to share their learning’s, build new collaborations and share strategies for successful academic collaboration in Vietnam

Recent findings from leading researchers, PhD and HDR students from across a wide rage of disciplines were presented. The program focused upon strategies for successful academic collaboration in Vietnam academic success in research and presentation of various research abstracts.

The Keynote Speakers of the Symposium:

  • Dr. Nguyen Thu Anh presented “Implementation of large scale trials in Vietnam from grant document to real life”. She shared insights relating to her research into lung disease in Vietnam, including the steps to implement multicenter studies.
  • Dr. Thu Anh is an infectious diseases and public health researcher. Her research focuses on detection and treatment of tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B and C, applying multi-disciplinary approach to elaborate research plan and conduct trials of complex interventions. She has been the chief investigator and associate investigator for multiple projects totaling over $10 million in competitive research Category 1 funding. 

The Guest Speakers of the Symposium:

  • Professor David Guest discussed his past collaborations with horticulture agricultural research in the Mekong Delta and reflected on his engagements with Vietnamese research partners. His research focuses on the management of parasitic nematodes of coffee and Phytophthora diseases in perennial tropical crops.
  • Dr. Linh Nguyen showcased the Sydney Business Schools RARE program – a community- engaged learning program that connect indigenous, rural and remote enterprises in Australia and South-East with students to assess the real-world business challenges.

Sydney Research Symposium abstract presentations:

  • Emma Goldrick – Vietnam environmental progress
  • Rachael Dossetor (on behalf of Tasneem Karim) - Nutritional status of children with cerebral palsy: findings from prospective hospital-based surveillance in Vietnam indicate a need for action
  • Liang Yin Li – From policy Change to Livelihood strategies (and back): A new story for Rural Development Model in Vietnam
  • Shannon McKinn – Listening to the community to understand the appeal of antibiotics: designing interventions to reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics in Vietnam
  • Phuong Nguyen – Antibiotic use in children hospitalized with pneumonia in central Vietnam
  • Hieu Trinh – Medicine Information services in Vietnamese hospitals: results from national survey

Breakout sessions assisted in engaging attendees in brainstorming ways for developing productive research collaborations in Vietnam.

Summary of discussions from the Breakout session:

What have been your most successful research collaborations? What made them a success?

  • Established relationships create an easier transition
  • Maintain established relationships as they may take a long time to establish from scratch
  • Relationships require someone who can navigate a system with clear agreements
  • Some regions are easier and more autonomous in decision making
  • Appreciate partnerships
  • Focus on personal relationship development
  • Avoid paternalistic tendencies made them successful
  • Facebook – creates snowballing connections
  • Maintain contact with local partners
  • Academic authority
  • Build capacity to the system for long-term collaboration beyond projects
  • Mutual benefits: organization & individual/ incentives
  • Different levels of collaboration (high level directors and lower level doctors/ patients)
  • Leadership
  • Retain an up-skill strategy

What challenges have you faced in conducting research in Vietnam?

  • Local political differences and structures - need to be adapt research for regional differences
  • Identifying these differences early enough
  • Processes/ systems can be difficult to navigate
  • Infrastructure Funding is essential for an in-country presence – require faculties to enhance USyd presence
  • Less Commonwealth funding is available compared recent history, USyd may consider filling the gap Dialects/ translations
  • Regional cultural appropriateness
  • Technology challenges
  • The implementation of initiatives

Tips for establishing productive research in Vietnam

  • Narrow down research topic to purpose pinpoint
  • Identify what is in it for local partners Develop proposals with people on site then develop a partnership leading to a research protocol 
  • Make decisions with collaborators not for them Focus on visiting partners to sustain relationships, as they are hard to maintain at a distance
  • Relationships are essential to build and maintain initiatives
  • Information about how to conduct research can be shared by experienced researchers

The SSEAC-Vietnam Seed Research Grants provides pathways for new academic projects and supports new research initiatives. The grant delivers prospects for investigating original research ideas and obtaining feedback from the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre community. The SSEAC-Vietnam Research Capacity Building Grants Support activities are designed to enhance the research or academic writing skills of SSEAC members and collaborators in Southeast Asia. 

Congratulations to:

Associate Professor Mackenzie
Occupational Therapy
Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney

Vietnamese Principal Investigator - Le Thanh Van
SSEAC Research Cluster - Health
Investigating falls risks in the homes of older Vietnamese people living in the community – A key focus for occupational therapy and physiotherapy

Dr Robert Fisher
Senior Lecturer
School of Geosciences, University of Sydney

Vietnamese Principal Investigator - Dr Nguyen Tuong Huy
SSEAC Research Cluster - Environment and Resources
Supporting research and academic writing skills for early career academics and postgraduate students at Hanoi National University of Education, Tay Bac University of Vietnam and Hanoi National Agriculture University

Dr Reuben Segara
Senior Lecturer in Finance
School of Business, University of Sydney

Vietnamese Principal Investigator - Mr Viet Duc Nguyen
SSEAC Research Cluster - Economic and Social Development
Trading Behaviour of Investors around Merger and Acquisition Announcements: Evidence from the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange

Associate Professor Tihomir Ancev
School of Economics
University of Sydney

Vietnamese Principal Investigator - Nguyen Minh Duc
SSEAC Research Cluster - Economic and Social Development/ Environment
Valuation of forest ecosystem services in North-West Vietnam for improved rural and regional development

Associate Professor Geoffrey Morgan
Environmental Epidemiologist
School of Public Health, University of Sydney
Vietnamese Principal Investigator - Nguyen Thi Trang Nhung
SSEAC Research Cluster - Environment and Resources/ Health
CIB Partner - Mr Nguyen Thi Trang Nhung
Public health implications of exposure to ambient air pollution

Associate Professor Thomas Bishop
School of Life & Environmental Sciences
University of Sydney

Vietnamese Principal Investigator - Dr Anh Phuong Tran
SSEAC Research Cluster - Science
CIB Partner - Dr Tran Phoung Anh
Nowcasting and forecasting agricultural drought in Vietnam

Associate Professor Reilly
Department of Government and International Relations
Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of Sydney
Vietnamese Principal Investigator - Dr Pham Sy Thanh
SSEAC Research Cluster - State and society/ Economic and Social Development
Hanoi’s dilemma: responding to China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Evaluating Health Care Social Enterprises in Vietnam is a cross-disciplinary study that focuses on evaluating the work and capacity of social enterprises that seek to deliver health care to people living with HIV/AIDS in Vietnam. The evaluation will identify best practice approaches and explore ways in which to expand the reach and effectiveness of health care social enterprises in a resource constrained environment. This research will provide social enterprises with strategic recommendations to improve their performance and impact.

The main objectives of the project include:

·         Identifying the enablers and disablers to effective delivery of health care services through the social enterprise model

·         Recognise and document how social enterprises can achieve financial viability while also meeting their social goals

·         Provide participating social enterprises with strategic recommendations to improve their social and financial performance

·         Contribute to existing dialogue and debate in Vietnam about the role of social enterprises and how the government might expand their reach

The study is being conducted by a University of Sydney research team led by Professor Leanne Cutcher, Head of the Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, who is the Chief Investigator of the project. The other team members include:

·         Dr Linh Nguyen, researcher, Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship

·         Dr Jarrod, Lecturer in social entrepreneurship, Discipline of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, The University of Sydney Business School;

·         Associate Greg Fox, Associate Professor in Respiratory Medicine, The University of Sydney- Faculty of Medicine and Health;

·         Dr Thu Anh Nguyen - Country Director of the Woolcock Institute Of Medical Research in Viet Nam

This study is funded by the University of Sydney Business School - Strategic Engaged Activities Support Scheme (EnAct)

Dr Justin Beardsley’s projects focus on anti-fungal resistant human, animal and plant pathogenic fungi. He is currently exploring what degree resistance is driven from the environment and the association with agricultural uses of anti-fungal drugs. He recently completed extensive environmental sampling of Aspergillus in Ca Mau. The results showed a high level of resistance and were presented at the Global Health Security Conference in Sydney 2019. He is currently using genetic markers to find the likely causes for resistance.

The next stage of the project shall commence in the next few months and will involve the sampling of chickens and humans for Candida species. By the end of 2019, Dr Beardsley will look into rice blast resistance to azoles. Dr Beardsley and his team are currently engaging with policymakers, farmers and researchers from across the OneHealth spectrum in Vietnam. The project is primarily supported by the Sydney Institute of Agriculture with smaller grants from the Marie Bashir Institute.

Congratulations to Associate Professor Greg Fox and Professor Warwick Britton from the University's Faculty of Medicine and Health and Professor Guy Marks from the University of New South Wales who are award finalists for the Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research for the ACT Now for Tuberculosis Control. 

More info here.

Sydney Vietnam Academic Leaders


Associate Professor in Respiratory Medicine Central Clinical School

Associate Professor Fox is a respiratory physician, epidemiologist and clinical trialist and is a co-founder the Sydney Vietnam Initiative. Over the past decade he has focused on detection and prevention of Tuberculosis among disadvantaged populations. He lived in Vietnam for four years, during which time he established a major randomised controlled trials of household screening for tuberculosis. He currently leads a number of NHMRC-supported trials relating to tuberculosis and lung disease in Vietnam. In partnership the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, he co-leads a group of sixty research staff working across 11 Provinces of Vietnam.

More info here.


Senior Lecturer in Infectious Diseases at the Marie Bashir Institute Westmead Clinical School

Dr Beardsley is an Infectious Disease clinician and researcher who spent five years at the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City. Now based in Sydney, his current research is focused on the burden of disease and drug-resistance related to Aspergillus in Vietnam and Australia. He is a co-author in the Lancet Global Burden of Diseases series in his capacity as GBD specialist on Vietnam. Dr Beardsley has experience in clinical trials as well as lab paper based experimental science and has a keen interest in collaborative cross-disciplinary research.

More info here.

PhD (Anatomy), Queens University of Belfast

Professor Brennan is an Associate Dean of International Research Development, global leader of the Optimisation and Perception Group, Co-Director of the international BREAST platform and holds the Chair of Diagnostic Imaging. His research involves studying innovative techniques and technologies that minimise the risk to patients while detecting clinical indicators of diseases and dysfunctions. Over the last decade he has published over 75 peer-reviewed papers in the highest ranked radiological journals and textbooks. He has generated over $13m in grant support and has over 200 publications. Professor Brennan has acted as a undergraduate, graduate and PhD examiner in 9 universities across the world and won 2 medals of excellence for teaching.

More info here.

PhD Design UTS

Senior Lecturer, Visual Art **

Dr Gavan is a Senior Lecturer at the Sydney College of the Arts in the School of Media Arts and Language in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Dr Gavan focuses on recognising emerging dimensions of diverse creative practices and assesses how these perspectives lead to opportunities for creative practitioners in society. In 2018 she initiated a UNESCO collaboration project in Vietnam called Manufacturing Creativity. The project focused on identifying the issues and responses of creative exemplars in the manufacturing industry. Her new project Visualising Value, aims to assess the communication between manufactures and creative practitioners in innovative ecosystems in order to connect potential collaborators. Dr Gavan collaborates with Ho Chi Minh City University of Architecture, Ho Chi Minh City of Fine Arts and the University of Culture and Heritage, HCM.

More info here.

Professor of Plant Pathology

Plant Breeding Institute

Professor Guest David teaches undergraduate courses at all levels and has supervised over 40 PhD and Research Masters students. His current research focuses on the constraints faced by smallholder farmers in tropical horticulture that limit adoption of improved crop management and improved livelihoods. He has extensive partnerships with research institutes and farming communities around the Asia-Pacific region and serves on the Executives of the Sydney Institute of Agriculture, Sydney Southeast Asia Centre, Scientists Australia for Gender Equity. He is Past-President and Fellow of the Australasian Plant Pathology Society and Past President of the Asian Association of Societies of Plant Pathology. He is a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) and was awarded a Career Medal for Agriculture and Rural Development by the Government of Vietnam. He has published over 100 research articles, three monographs, 19 book chapters and supervised over 40 postgraduate HDR students and been awarded over $17 million in research funding.

More info here.

Emeritus Professor of Human Geography

Professor Hirsch specialises in rural change, natural resource management and the politics of environment in Southeast Asia. Between 1997 and 2017 he led the Mekong Research group that worked on collaborative and engaged research on a range of development themes, livelihood and resources governance in the Mekong Region. Since the early 1980s he has had strong affiliations with Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. Professor Hirsch has been involved in many collaborative research collaborative projects in Southeast Asia since the early 1990s.

More info here.


Professor, The Children's Hospital at Westmead Clinical School

Deputy Director, Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity Senior

Professor Marais is a Paediatric Infectious Diseases consultant with a special interest in tuberculosis (TB) and global child health. He is currently involved in a major NHMRC-funded project in Vietnam evaluating the provision of preventive therapy to household contacts of infectious prevention of multi-drug resistant (MDR)-TB (VQuin trial led by A/Professor Greg Fox) and a recent DFAT funded study that aims to reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics in Vietnam. These projects link to the Centre for Research Excellence in Tuberculosis ( and the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity ( He has supervised two Vietnamese PhD students, one working on TB/ HIV co-infection and the other on childhood pneumonia. 

More info here.

Professor and Head of School, Sydney School of Public Health

Professor Negin is is currently working on projects focused on tuberculosis, tobacco control, antimicrobial resistance and health systems in Vietnam. He is an investigator in three current Category 1 funded grants in Vietnam

1)An integrated health-sector to combat COPD and asthma in Vietnam: A pragmatic stepped intervention cluster randomized trial

2) Combatting the emergency and spread of antimicrobial resistant infectious diseases in Vietnam: the V-RESIST study

3) Harnessing new mHealth technologies to Strengthen the Management of Multidrug-Resistant Tuberculosis in Vietnam: The V-SMART Trial

More info here.

Country Director of Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Senior manager, researcher and M&E specialist at International NGO’s UN organisaitions and medical universities

Dr Thu Anh Nguyen is an infectious diseases and public health researcher. Her research focuses on detection and treatment of tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis B and C, applying multi-disciplinary approach to elaborate research plan and conduct trials of complex interventions. Since 2013, Dr Nguyen has been an honorary lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Medical School and the Country Director of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Vietnam where she leads a team of over 60 staff across academic disciplines such as medicine, molecular biology, social science, psychology, data science, public health, pharmacology. She has been the chief investigator and associate investigator for multiple projects totalling over $10 million in competitive research category I funding.

More info here.

PhD Sydney

Honorary Associate the Strategy Entrepreneurship and innovation Discipline

Dr Linh is the Co-Founder and former Executive Director of Entrepreneurship Development Network Asia (ENDA) Vietnam (EDNA Vietnam), a local social enterprise aiming to improve the lives of people and communities in Vietnam. Prior to her work at EDNA and Usyd, Dr Linh worked at Vietnam National University, Hanoi – University of Economics and Business as a lecturer and Vice Director of Research and Partnership Development department. Dr Linh’s research interests cover social entrepreneurship, women entrepreneurship, social impact assessment, entrepreneurship and well-being.

More info here.