School of Population Health

Image - Immunisation Infectious Diseases Banner

Immunisation and Infectious Diseases

Infectious disease research is one of our major strengths, encompassing both public health and health services research.

Public health research projects focus on improved population control of vaccine preventable diseases and STI’s/HIV. Health services research focuses primarily on healthcare-associated infections and antimicrobial resistance.

Drawing upon a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, we use epidemiology and biostatistics, qualitative research/social science, mathematical modelling and health economics to study a broad range of subpopulations including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders;
  • Populations with health risk factors; and
  • Traveller, migrant and refugee populations.

Our highly collaborative approach also sees us working internationally in:

  • The Asia-Pacific covering STI’s and vaccine programs;
  • The Middle East and Asian regions covering healthcare infections, infection control and antimicrobial resistance; and
  • Worldwide on global influenza epidemiology and burden.


"Ebola Virus Particles"by National Institutes of Health (NIH) is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Dr Abrar Chughtai
Visiting Researcher, Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology, Public Health and Health Services

Dr Abrar Chughtai is a public health practitioner and epidemiologist with 15 year track record of infectious disease control and research at national and international levels. His professional training is in Medicine, with academic training (MPH and PhD) from the University of New South Wales. He has been working for World Health Organization (WHO) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for more than seven years. He has extensive experience of Public Health Programs, particularly Tuberculosis Control in developing countries. His main areas of interest include influenza, emerging infectious diseases, vaccine preventable diseases and personal protective equipment.

Dr Abrar Chugtai

Dr Adam Craig
Lecturer, International Public Health 

Adam brings 16 years of field epidemiology experience to academia.  Adam's work has taken him across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. Since 2006 he has been involved in the development of the disease outbreak early warning surveillance systems in operation in the Pacific. Adam's research revolves around health design and the interface between the health systems design and infectious disease surveillance and response strengthening.


image - Adam Craig


Dr Minh Cuong Duong
Associate Lecturer, Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology, Public Health and Health Services

Dr Minh Cuong Duong, MD, MMed, PhD, has been a Specialist in Infectious Diseases and an epidemiologist in Vietnam after completing the National Postgraduate Specialty Training Program in Infectious Diseases in 2011. His expertise includes epidemiology, prevention and control of infectious diseases. He joined the School in 2017 as an Associate Lecturer. In 2018, Minh was appointed by the World Health Organization as their consultant on the national response to viral hepatitis in hemodialysis facilities in Vietnam.


image - Ming Cuong Duong


Associate Professor Anita Heywood
Director of Education, Public Health and Health Services, Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases

Dr Heywood is an infectious disease epidemiologist and lecturer at the School. Her current research focuses on vaccine uptake and risk perception in at-risk groups, particularly travellers and migrant Australians. Her additional research interests include the analysis of routine surveillance data to evaluate vaccine programs and evidence-based vaccination policy and practice.


image - Key Staff


Associate Professor Bette Liu
Associate Professor Epidemiology

Bette Liu is a medically trained epidemiologist who specialises in large scale cohort and record linkage studies. She has worked in Australia in clinical medicine and as a Public Health Medical Officer. She completed her DPhil (PhD) at the University of Oxford. She has played significant roles in the development of large scale prospective studies both in Australia and overseas. The main focus of her work has been to identify potential public health prevention strategies for common diseases through the use of observational study designs with a particular focus on infectious diseases in adults and their longer term sequelae.


Bette Liu


Professor Mary-Louise McLaws
Professor of Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology, Public Health and Health Services

Patient safety and healthcare worker safety with emphasis on the epidemiology of healthcare associated infection (HAI) and occupational acquisition of infection. Specific interests include surveillance of HAIs, clinical practice improvement to prevent HAIs with specific focus on intensive care practice, disaster management for the prevention of infection in survivors and infectious diseases outbreak from the community into the healthcare facility. Expertise in low resourced healthcare settings in Southeast Asia.


image - Key Staff


Dr David Muscatello
Senior Lecturer, Epidemiology, Infectious Diseases, Public Health and Health Services

Dr David Muscatello is a Senior Lecturer in infectious diseases epidemiology. He has a PhD in the epidemiology of influenza. He also has many years experience in government as an epidemiologist specialising in acute disease surveillance using administrative databases, public health intelligence and biostatistics including time series analysis. He played a major surveillance role in the New South Wales government response to pandemic influenza in 2009 and has served on the Australian National Influenza Surveillance Committee. David is also a graduate of the New South Wales Public Health Officer Training Program and has supervised and trained numerous Public Health Officer and Biostatistical trainees. He is particularly interested in the use of time series analysis for estimating mortality and morbidity from infectious and other diseases and for assessing the impact of health policies on populations.


Dr David Muscatello


Associate Professor Anthony Newall
Associate Professor Health Economics, Applied Mathematics, Infectious Diseases, Biostatistics

Dr Anthony Newall is an Associate Professor in Health Economics at the School. His main research area is the economic evaluation of infectious disease prevention strategies, as well as the mathematical modelling and statistical analyses that inform these evaluations. He has over 40 peer-reviewed publications on a range of vaccine preventable diseases, including the epidemiology and cost-effectiveness of prevention strategies for influenza (seasonal and pandemic), pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, and human papillomavirus. He has been appointed to the World Health Organization (WHO) Roster of Experts in the area of Health Economics by the Director-General of the WHO.


image - Key Staff


Associate Professor Holly Seale
Associate Professor, Infectious Diseases, Public Health and Health Services, Preventive Medicine, Epidemiology

A/Prof Seale has conducted behavioural research regarding infectious diseases and infection control. Recently, her work has focused on healthcare professional’s perceptions and behaviours regarding infectious diseases, particularly VPDs and examining new strategies for infection control using pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical measures. Her published studies have concerned communicable disease surveillance, social research, clinical trial outcomes, risk communication, immunisation coverage in at-risk groups, and the evaluation of education tools using qualitative and quantitative methods.


image - Holly Seale


Associate Professor Niamh Stephenson
Associate Professor, Sociology, Infectious Diseases, Social and Community Psychology, Public Health and Health Services

A/Prof Stephenson is a medical sociologist. One strand of her research focuses on the social and political dimensions of infectious disease. She is currently researching the relationship between infectious disease and “security”. This involves working on a book about the role that the global response to HIV is playing in transforming international/global health (with E. Prof. Susan Kippax). It also involves a current ARC funded project on Australian pandemic influenza preparedness efforts. Niamh has devoted much of her career to developing techniques for undertaking theoretical informed qualitative analysis, the second strand of her research. This work is key to her second current ARC project examining how the use of ultrasound technologies during pregnancy is changing people’s ideas about “life”. Her recent publications include two books (Analysing Everyday Experience: Social Research and Political Change, Palgrave and Escape Routes: Control and Subversion in the 21st Century, Pluto) as well as journal articles in: American Journal of Public Health; Science, Technology & Human Values; and Social Science & Medicine.


image - Key Staff


Dr Kerry Uebel
Convenor Phase 3 Pimary Care

Dr Kerry Uebel MBBS, MFam Med, PhD is a Family Physician with many years’ experience in primary care in South Africa with a particular emphasis on HIV and TB and the support of primary care nurse practitioners. She completed her PhD looking at the integration of HIV care into primary care services. She is currently a senior lecturer in primary care at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine UNSW with an interest in Medical Education and the development of shared care models for care of cancer survivors and primary care services in developing countries.


image - Kerry Uebel


Associate Professor James Wood
Associate Professor, Biological Mathematics, Epidemiology, Simulation and Modelling, Infectious Diseases

A/Professor Wood uses mathematical and statistical models to answer questions in infectious disease control. Analysis of vaccine programs, the dynamics of long-term immunity and the epidemiology of tuberculosis are his major research interests at present. In methodological terms he is interested in analysis and presentation of uncertainty in models, methods for model validation and the value of more structured (demographic) models in predictive studies.


image - Key Staff


1. Antimicrobial Resistance

image - antibiotics

Are commonly prescribed antibiotics becoming ineffective in our community?

Antimicrobial resistance has been labelled by the World Health Organization as a global threat to human health and our researchers at UNSW’s School of Public Health are responding to calls for urgent action to prevent it. Commonly prescribed antibiotics are becoming less effective in everyday populations over time.  The inappropriate prescription and use of antimicrobials, which are used to treat infections, means once treatable infections are becoming untreatable.  

See Project Details


2. Vaccine Preventable Disease

Image - Older Australian woman

Reducing the impact of vaccine preventable diseases in older Australians

Australia’s population is ageing, and with that comes an increasing burden on Australia’s health system.  Our researchers are working to combat this with strategies to improve health and prevent morbidity in older adults. Vaccine preventable diseases are responsible for substantial morbidity, mortality and health care costs in Australian adults.  However, adult vaccination is a comparatively under-researched area with many unanswered questions about who would benefit most from vaccination, and therefore what the most appropriate and cost-effective vaccination strategies are.

See Project Details


3.  Improving Vaccine Coverage

Image - people getting vaccine

Using social and behavioural insights to improve vaccine coverage in at-risk populations.

More than ninety percent of young Australians are being immunised for vaccine preventable diseases.  But the rate is much lower for refugees and migrants, older adults and other at-risk groups and our researchers are working to understand why. Immunisation is recommended throughout life to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases (VPD), VPD-associated morbidity and mortality and to prevent ongoing transmission of infections within the community.

See Project Details



The SPH has multidisciplinary expertise in infectious diseases epidemiology, data linkage, mathematical modelling, health economic evaluation and social research. As an outcome of this expertise, we offer a range of options which focus on infectious diseases case studies and current challenges. In all of our courses, our academics integrate their research to enrich the learning experience.

Infectious Disease teaching is represented through courses and specialisations in:

For students interested in the public health aspects of infectious diseases intelligence, response, prevention and mitigation we offer:

At a program level, the Master of Infectious Diseases Intelligence (MIDI) equips graduates with advanced skills in public health aspects of infectious diseases intelligence, response, prevention and mitigation. The program is relevant for anyone working in government, non-government, community and health service settings in Australia and internationally. Students can combine this master’s program with either the Master of Public Health, Master of International Public Health or Master of Health Management (dual degree option).

Students can also opt to either undertake the Master of Public Health or Master of International Public Health with an Infectious Diseases Control stream. This provides students with strong training in the principles of communicable diseases epidemiology, prevention and control. There is a strong focus on problem-based learning in the stream as we believe this improves students understanding of the material.

At a course level, we have a range of options with an infectious disease content focus including:

  • Infectious Disease Challenges
  • Epidemiology and Control
  • Immunisation Policy and Practice
  • Bioterrorism and Health Intelligence
  • Tropical Disease Control
  • Infectious Diseases Intelligence

Students can also undertake a small-scale research project focused on infectious disease or complete an internship placement.  Opportunities for research students exist in these areas:

  • Observational epidemiology and data linkage
  • Healthcare-associated infection epidemiology, prevention and control
  • Immunisation
  • Infectious disease and health economic modelling
  • Biosecurity
  • Social and behavioural
  • Traveller health
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health
  • Migrant and refugee health
  • Frail elderly
  • International HIV group
  • Clinical research

As our school is a member of the WHO Global Outbreak Alert Network and a founding member of the ARM network, there is also opportunity to do research in the field.