About us

image - About UsOur National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) in Population Health Research commenced in 2012, titled “Immunisation in under Studied and Special Risk Populations: Closing the Gap in Knowledge through a Multidisciplinary Approach.” 

The use of vaccines at the population level has increased substantially in both cost and complexity in Australia and internationally over the past decade or more. The cost of vaccine purchase alone, not including delivery and monitoring, has increased from less than $20 million dollars in 1993 to over $500 million in 2007, making the National Immunisation Program (NIP) the single most costly publicly-funded preventive program in Australia. This highlights the importance of high quality research evidence to inform vaccine policy, in diverse areas ranging from vaccine efficacy and safety to changing environmental factors, social norms and population demographics. Important research relating to vulnerable population subgroups at high disease risk and/or marginalised, usually remains beyond the scope of funding from government or industry. In industry-sponsored clinical trials, high-risk groups are often specifically excluded. The pharmaceutical industry usually conducts research and supports submissions for government reimbursement for the general population. Despite the addition of many more vaccines to the NIP, there is set to be an even greater increase in vaccine candidates, some of which may need to be targeted at high-risk populations for cost or logistic reasons. Such research is not commercially viable and is usually outside the remit of government agencies. These risk groups suffer disproportionate morbidity and mortality, either because of less robust immunity (such as neonates, pregnant women and the frail elderly) or because of co-morbidities and environmental factors (such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, migrants and refugees). Our CRE is dedicated to addressing this gap in knowledge using high quality, multi-method research in a collaborative team environment. The CRE funds a range of talented post-doctoral researchers and research students who will work with the team of chief and associate investigators to fulfilling our goals under four streams of the CRE.


Our Streams

This CRE brings together advanced expertise in clinical and epidemiological research, disease and economic modelling,  data linkage and social science to the cross-cutting theme of vaccination across the four risk-population streams.
We are a team of international experts in quantitative and qualitative methods in vaccine research, across UNSW, The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, The Kirby Institute, The Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, The University of Sydney and the University of Antwerp.


Key Goals

This CRE will focus on addressing research gaps with important policy implications in the use of vaccines among high risk and/or marginalised populations in the defined streams through the application and development of multidisciplinary, mixed method research.

Over the 5 years of the program this CRE will further develop research capacity specific to the use of vaccines among high risk and/or marginalised groups and promote translation of the findings into policy and practice.

2012 Annual report

2013 Annual report

2014 Annual report

2012 - 2016 Summary Report

Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) will provide strategic guidance on research directions, CRE activities and advice on translation of research into practice. The SAB members for the CRE are:

  • Margaret Burgess (chair): Honorary Professor & Founding Director of NCIRS and retired Professor of Paediatrics and Preventive Medicine at the University of Sydney.

  • Ross Andrews:  Epidemiologist, Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, NT

  • Terry Nolan: Professor & Head, Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne. Victoria

  • Lisa Maher: Professor, NHMRC Senior Research Fellow and Head, Viral Hepatitis Epidemiology and Prevention Program, The Kirby institute, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW.

  • Sandra Eades: Professor, Sydney School of Public Health, The Univesity of Sydney, Head, Indigenous Maternal and Child Health and Associate Head, Preventative Health Research, at the Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute.

  • Wendy Bissinger: Public Health Medical Officer, Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Inc. (The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) representative)

  • Margaret Kay: Senior lecturer at Discipline of General Practice, School of Medicine  The University of Queensland.

  • Nick Zwar: Professor of General Practice in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW

  • Adrian Miller: Professor of Indigenous Research at Griffith University, leading the Indigenous Research Unit and Network.

Scientific Advisory Board meetings:

First SAB meeting - 16 November 2012

Second SAB meeting - 15 November 2013

Third SAB meeting - 21 November 2014

Fourth SAB meeting - 25 November 2015

Fifth SAB meeting - 25 August 2016


CRE grants/funding

Research grants secured by CRE members

  • NHMRC CRE “Reducing vaccine preventable diseases in children: using national active hospital-based surveillance to evaluate and improve immunisation program performance” (Macartney at al)
  • NHMRC Project grant “Assessing acellular pertussis vaccine effectiveness: integrating transmission models, genetics and cohort data to inform policy” (Wood et al)
  • NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence –“Integrated Systems for Epidemic Response (ISER)” (MacIntyre et al)
  • NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence - Australian Centre for Research Excellence in “Aboriginal Sexual Health and Blood Borne Viruses” (Ward et al)
  • NHMRC Project Grant - “Quantifying the effectiveness of pertussis vaccine in older adults” (Liu et al)
  • NHMRC Project Grant - Novel interventions to address methamphetamines in Aboriginal communities, including a randomised trial of a web based therapeutic tool used to treat dependence in clinical (Ward et al)
  • NHMRC Project grant “Case-cohort study of the association between pertussis vaccination in infancy and the risk of IgE-mediated food allergy” (Snelling et al )
  • NHMRC Project grant “Real time models to inform prevention and control of emerging infectious diseases” (MacIntyre , Heywood , Gardner )
  • NHMRC Project grant “Economic evaluation of alternative pneumococcal vaccination strategies” (Newall, Beutels, Menzies )
  • NHMRC Project grant “Vaccination timeliness in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal infants: risk factors for delayed vaccination and impact on disease burden—a record linkage study” (Gidding et al)
  • Australian Government Department of Health Grant “Evaluation of long-term effectiveness of the infant Hepatitis B vaccination strategy among antenatal women in the Northern Territory” (Kaldor et al)
  • NHMRC Project Grant: “Providing the evidence to guide adult immunisation strategies: a novel approach using a large prospective cohort study and record linkage” (Liu , Newall , MacIntyre , McIntyre )
  • NHMRC Project Grant: “Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) schedules for the Northern Territory (NT):
  • Randomised controlled trial of booster vaccines to broaden and strengthen protection from invasive and mucosal infections. (McIntyre et al)
  • ARC Linkage Project Grant: “Post-implementation economic evaluation of childhood vaccination programs”. (Newall, Wood, McIntyre, Beutels, Menzies)
  • ARC Discovery Project Grant: “Travellers visiting friends and relatives: New approaches to understanding and reducing infectious disease risks” (MacIntyre, Seale, Heywood, and other UNSW and NSW Health Investigators)
  • International Program Development Fund: Project “A multi-disciplinary international collaboration to improve communication about vaccination.” (Leask)
  • Population Health Research Network (PHRN) fund: “Linkage of the Australian childhood immunisation register (ACIR) and state based registers to evaluate and inform Australia’s immunisation program” (Gidding, Liu, McIntyre, Jorm and WA researchers)
  • NSW population health and health services research and support program grant (formerly known as the Capacity Building Infrastructure Grants) for vaccination methodological studies (Dwyer)
  • Funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing as part of an HPV surveillance initiative: “Impact of Australia’s HPV vaccination program on prevalence of HPV genotypes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women attending for Pap testing” (Liu).
  • International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM) Research Awards: “Determinants of infectious disease incidence and risk behaviours in Australian travellers visiting friends and relatives – a prospective cohort study” (Heywood, Seale)
  • Sanofi Pasteur investigator-driven research fund: “GP Travel Medicine Survey – Understand barriers to the provision of pre-travel preventative health advice to migrant Australians in primary care” (Heywood, Seale)


Fellowships awarded to CRE members

  • Early Career Fellowships (Australia) - 2017 ” Interventions to improve outcomes for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in sexually transmissible infections blood borne viruses and for people using methamphetamines” (Ward et al)
  • Career Development Fellowships 2017 “Advanced population-based methods to evaluate and inform immunisation policy and practice” (Gidding et al)
  • NHMRC Practitioner Fellowship (2016): Robert Booy
  • Early Career Fellowships (Australia) – “Reducing sexually transmissible infections and blood borne viruses and associated risks among Australia’s First Peoples”(2015) - James Ward
  • Career Development Fellowship (CDF) Population Health Level 1 (2014): “Large scale studies to inform and guide public health policy” - Bette Liu
  • CDF Clinical Level 1 (2014) : “Immunisation safety and adverse events: Improving our understanding of causes and management” - Nicholas Wood
  • NHMRC Postgraduate scholarship (2014): Amalia Dyda
  • NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (2013 – 2016): “Improving communication about immunisation through social sciences research” - Julie Leask
  • NHMRC Frank Fenner Early Career Fellowship (2013): Tom Snelling
  • University of Sydney postdoctoral fellowship (2012): Julie Leask
  • NHMRC postgraduate scholarship (2012): Kerrie Wiley
  • NHMRC postgraduate scholarship(2012): Elizabeth Hayles
  • NHMRC post-doctoral training fellowship (2012): Heather Gidding
  • NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (2012) :Ben Marais


Key Contacts

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Research Associate
+61 (2) 93850082
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Chief Investigator A

Member Organisations