School of Population Health

Non-Communicable Disease Research Projects


Better Parks, Healthier for All?

Increasing evidence affirms that green spaces can make an important contribution to preventing poor mental health and cardiometabolic diseases. The NSW, Scottish and other governments are drawing upon this evidence for major investments in ‘quality’ green space provision. However, little research has been done on which green space qualities maximise impacts on levels of, and socioeconomic inequalities in, mental ill-health and cardiometabolic diseases.

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Image Better Parks

Classifying local environment attributes for healthier, more equitable child development

Theory and evidence suggests rapid physical and social development makes children more sensitive to the impacts of environmental exposures than adults. Paradoxically, children’s environmental health is an under-researched area according to the World Health Organization. What research there is comprises mostly cross-sectional studies and has focussed upon single exposures, ignoring spatiotemporal clustering of many environmental characteristics that may be especially harmful – or supportive – if experienced at different points in childhood.

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May Measurement Month

May Measurement Month is a global campaign led by the International Society of Hypertension to increase awareness of raised blood pressure. Since 2017 over 4 million adults have been screened globally.

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Evolving Risk Factors for Cancers in African Populations: Lifestyle, infection, genetic susceptibility, and cancer in South Africa: development of research capacity and an evidence base for cancer control (ERICA-SA)

The ERICA-SA project will utilise lifestyle data and biological samples collected by the Johannesburg Cancer Study (JCS) from 20,000 African cancer patients to investigate the causes of cancer and to enhance scientific research capacity in South Africa.

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Monitoring the smoking epidemic through questions on death notifications

Smoking questions were introduced in South Africa in 1997 and in Tianjin Municipality in 2011.  Accruing about 70,000 adult deaths per year with smoking information, these are some of the largest studies on smoking attributed mortality worldwide.  Current work includes quantification of risks of infectious respiratory disease, and measuring the benefits of cessation after hospitalisation.

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Smoking and COVID-19 mortality

The role of smoking and COVID mortality has not been formally studied. We are collaborating with colleagues in China (CDC in Beijing and Hubei) to quantify the role smoking plays in COVID-19 mortality.  Funding source: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Research Team Members Peng Yin, Hang Li, Alan Lopez, Tim Adair, Freddy Sitas, Photo: CDC interviewer training in Wuhan.


Photo - CDC interviewer training in Wuhan


Realising big data’s potential to address social and health inequities

This project seeks to identify: how Australian public health’s uptake of big data opens, closes or reworks possibilities for addressing health inequities and social determinants of health; and what enables and constrains the uses of big data to support, rather than obfuscate, work on the social determinants of health.

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image - Non-Communicable Disease Research Projects


Atrial Fibrillation in older women: exploring how diet and nutrition can improve outcomes

The chronic cardiovascular disease atrial fibrillation (AF) – or irregular heartbeat, which can lead to stoke and heart failure – causes more deaths among women than men in Australia. While most research has, understandably, been aimed at preventing AF, relatively little work has focused on improving our understanding of how diet and nutrition can lead to better management of the disease and better outcomes for people with AF.

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Image Atrial Fibrillation


Liaw ST, Harris M, Eapen V, Liu B, Kahn M, Sitas F, Muscatello D, Sharma, A, Hall J, Jonnagaddala J. Unifying and quality assuring disparate health silos with a common data model. (Funding NHMRC Partnerships APP1192469 $1,214,143; 2021-23)


Liaw ST, Ansari S. Health information systems assessment and digital health maturity assessment in the Pacific. (Funding: WHO Department of Pacific Support $78K 2020)