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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

On the 24th of September 2020, the Sydney Vietnam Initiative held the third annual Sydney Vietnam Initiative Symposium. The annual symposium seeks to promote interdisciplinary research and education between partners in Vietnam and the University of Sydney. The central theme of this year’s symposium was "Improving lives through collaborative research and education".

Approximately 80 people attended online, and 11 people attended face-to-face due to COVID-19 restrictions. We received a large number of high-quality abstract submissions, as a result the symposium consisted of two sessions. The sessions were broken up with a discussion "How can we strengthen academic collaborations between Australia and Vietnam in an era of COVID-19?"

We would like to send out a special thank you to our keynote speaker Senior Professor Phan Le Ha, who spoke on "Collaborating and Engaging in a Vietnam that 'We' think 'We' know", as well as our exceptional abstract presentations, which included:

  • Joshua Chambers - Spatiotemporal influences of symptomatic dengue fever in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Ruth Zadoks - Zoonotic group B Streptococcus and antimicrobial resistance in Vietnamese aquaculture: a nexus between economic development, environment and resources, food security and health
  • Nguyen Thi Trang Nhung - Attributable death of ambient PM2.5 in Hanoi
  • Chi Dang Diem Nguyen - Policy planning and evaluation: towards a holistic policy planning framework for Vietnam’s agricultural sector
  • Shukry Zawahir - Pharmacy staff respond to antibiotics request for an upper respiratory tract infection: A multi-centre standardised patient surveys in Vietnam
  • Halle Quang - Cultural considerations in assessing motivational deficits: insights from the Vietnamese validation of apathy questionnaires
  • Paul Glare - Screening cancer patients admitted to Hanoi Medical University Hospital for palliative care needs
  • Leanne Cutcher - from Self-Help Group to Social Enterprise: The role of stigma in transitioning from informal to formal ways or organising health services in Vietnam
  • Sarah Bernays Viral stigma: community experiences of COVID-19 prevention and infection in Vietnam
  • Alison Grove O'Grady - Creative pedagogies for professional learning co-creation and participation in intercultural space

Dr Phuong Nguyen, from Da Nang Hospital for Women and Children, has recently won the Alexandre Yersin Prize for her recent PhD submission “Applying lessons learnt from research of child pneumonia”. The Alexandre Yersin Prize recognises outstanding medical researchers in Vietnam who make a significant contribution to the medical literature.

Pneumonia is the leading cause of paediatric hospitalisation and antibiotic use in Vietnam resulting in a huge burden on the Vietnamese health care systems. Many of these hospital admissions for child pneumonia are unnecessary and inappropriate use of antibiotics is common. Phuong and her team explored the value of an alternative approach that, instead of focusing on the identification of children with severe bacterial pneumonia, focused on the identification of children with ‘unlikely bacterial pneumonia’ to improve patient care and rational antibiotic use. Implementing improved models of care required pragmatic management algorithms that were well validated, however, dependent on financial structures, management support and evidence-based training of healthcare providers at all relevant levels. The study found that apart from better case management, sustained reductions in the pneumonia disease burden also required an increased emphasis on primary prevention.

Phuong Nguyen has now developed a Child Lung Health training course for district doctors in Vietnam. The aim of the course is to strengthen clinician’s capacity to manage common child lung health to improve survival and quality of life.

The multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary research project Dr Alison Grove O’Grady, Dr Catherine Smyth and Dr Erin-Kim Rich, aims to address the needs of staff and community calling for participatory and new pedagogy and practices that develop and extend on English speaking skills. The project has been forged with alumni teacher, Mr Neil van Heerden, who has recently been appointed Vice Principal (English) at Le Quy Don Primary School, Hanoi Vietnam. The research program develops and delivers an informed professional learning program, which uses drama rich pedagogies and translanguaging approaches. The research program includes a Professional Learning co-creative workshops using creative pedagogies as principle pedagogy to:

  • Provision teachers with creative pedagogies that improve English speaking language and help teachers achieve goals of the curriculum that align with international standards e.g. PISA.
  • Applications and pedagogic tools that teachers can use in diverse classrooms to bridge social, economic, and cultural impediments to achievement in speaking English language. These are applications developed and co -created to facilitate new ways of creating knowledge with students, that reflect current global scholarship.
  • Professional development of teachers where the challenges of resources and language barriers are greater in achieving mandated outcomes for English speaking.
  • Facilitate a ‘ground up’ experience of professional learning in the field through a close relationship to university researchers with expertise in the required discipline.
  • Activities and workshop exemplars will be co- created with teachers at the school and the promotion of a common understanding of the ‘how to’ of creative approaches to a range of subject areas within the school curriculum and disciplines therein.

The research project was originally piloted September 2019 and is due to be built upon following these uncertain times.

Sydney Vietnam Academic Leaders

Tiho Ancev is the 2020 SSEAC Vietnam Country representative. Tiho Ancev holds degrees from Saints Cyril and Methodius University (Bachelor), University of Iceland (Master) and Oklahoma State University (PhD). His main research areas are environmental, natural resource and agricultural economics. Tiho’s contributions have been in water economics and policy, and economics of air pollution and climate change policies. He has published widely on these topics (Journal of Regulatory Economics, Ecological Economics, Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Water Resources Management). Tiho has also led and contributed to several national and international projects in these research areas.

More info here.

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.

Dr Bernays is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney and an Associate Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is a medical anthropologist and focuses on the social implications of infectious disease, in particular understanding how to design interventions to support enhanced community engagement in prevention and care. She leads an established international programme of qualitative research focused on adolescent HIV and mental health in Sub-Saharan Africa. Recently, she has also been focused on integrating social science into research focused on anti-microbial resistance (AMR), TB and COVID-19 in Vietnam. She is co-leader of the AMR Social Science node at the Marie Bashir Institute, as well as lead for the Infections and Immunisation theme in the Sydney Global Child Health Network. She plays a key role in delivering the Master's of Global Health programme and is committed to the long-term capacity development of social scientists through her research and teaching.

More info here.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

At the Faculty of Engineering, Ms Margon manages the international and industry partnerships. She works with the engineering academic team to highlight their expertise areas and target potential industry partners. She assists in building long-term partnerships with key international companies to be on their innovation journey. The aim is for the partnerships to tap into both education and research and include multidisciplinary teams not only across the engineering schools but widely across the University.

"Industry innovation challenges can no longer be answered by one group of academics but are complex and involves teams from different research areas working together to provide novel solutions", says Sandra.

In Vietnam, her team are interested in the dynamic IT sector, which is having huge uptake from graduates and investment from government and the international industry. The Vietnamese higher education sector has a strong education standing in STEM and the engineering academics are pleased with the commitment of PhD students they have received to date. There are academics in her engineering team from Vietnam who are actively involved in developing their research connections with students and industry and would like to further deepen these connections.

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.

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.

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.