Skip to main content
Saigon skyline - Image by Peter Nguyen via Unsplash

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

The 2020 Sydney Vietnam Symposium will be held on the 24th September 2020 from 11am to 4pm (Sydney time).

The symposium will share the findings of collaborative research undertaken by academics working in Vietnam. Presenters from across all disciplines are invited to submit abstracts to present your work.

The event will create opportunities to discuss and explore plans for increasing engagement between the University of Sydney and partner organisations throughout Vietnam. We plan to include participants in person at the University, and via teleconference. Presenters and participants from both Vietnam and Australia are welcome to attend.

The central theme of this year’s symposium is "Improving lives through collaborative research and education".

Register to attend the Symposium here. (Registrations close 20th September.)

Submit an abstract for an oral presentation here. (Abstract submission deadline on 11th September.)

COVID-19 has impacted all areas, including the food and agricultural systems. What does COVID-19 mean for the future of the Vietnamese agricultural industry? Speakers from Australia and Vietnam will share insights into the challenges faced by Vietnam and Australia, in light of COVID-19. The presentations will be followed by an interactive Question and Answer session.

When: Friday 7th August 2020

Time: 3-4pm Sydney time / 12-1pm Vietnam time

Register for the Webinar here.

The ACT series of studies aim to reduce the burden of tuberculosis in Vietnam. The ACT5 Trial is the latest in this series of studies, led by researchers from the University of Sydney, the Woolcock Institute and UNSW. In June, the pilot study for this five-year project funded by NHMRC was launched.


This project combines two components to help achieve the goal of Ending TB. The TEST component involves community-wide screening of all community members for latent Tuberculosis (LTBI). Initially, we will conduct tuberculin skin tests, and then depending on the results of these tests, we may conduct further screening that includes sputum by Xpert, chest x-rays and blood tests. The TREAT component involves commencing participants who screen positive for LTBI onto treatment. To evaluate the effectiveness of this trial, after four years we will compare the prevalence of TB in our intervention communities with the prevalence of TB in communities who did not receive this intervention. The research team in Ca Mau is led by Ms Khanh Luu Boi, with oversight provided by Sydney Vietnam Academic Leader, Dr Thu Anh Nguyen.

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

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.