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The Australian National University

Associate Professor David Harley

BSc (Zoology, Hons I) MBBS PhD FAFPHM MMedSc (Clin Epid) Member Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Associate Professor of Epidemiology
ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment

Areas of expertise

  • Public Health And Health Services 1117
  • Epidemiology 111706
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Health 111701
  • Ecological Impacts Of Climate Change 050101
  • Environmental And Occupational Health And Safety 111705
  • Preventive Medicine 111716
  • Primary Health Care 111717
  • Care For Disabled 111703
  • Invertebrate Biology 060808

Research interests

  • Global and international health
  • Tropical medicine
  • Infectious diseases epidemiology
  • Vector-borne diseases, particularly arboviruses (Ross River and dengue viruses)
  • Tuberculosis
  • The health of marginalised groups, including Indigenous Australians and people with disabilities
  • In utero and early child development and health
  • Health impacts of climate change
  • Animals, including Homo sapiens


David Harley is a zoologist, medical doctor, epidemiologist and Public Health Physician. He was appointed Associate Professor at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH) & The Medical School at The Australian National University in 2008.

He has a major interest in infectious disease epidemiology, particularly arboviruses. Ross River virus, Australia’s most important climate sensitive arbovirus, is a long standing interest. He is lead author on the most comprehensive review of the virus, its ecology and clinical manifestations (cited over 100 times), a large mosquito trapping study for Ross River virus isolation and an important inception cohort study of disease natural history. He has also published on tuberculosis, Adenovirus, meningococcus, dengue and malaria.

During 2002-7 he worked as a doctor with adults with intellectual disabilities. He is particularly proud of his work from this period on the use of antipsychotics in this group (Tyrer et al., Lancet, 2008). The general practice where he worked full-time in 2007 was awarded best general practice in the Brisbane South Division of General Practice for that year.

Since commencing at ANU he has taken on a major teaching role as chair of the population health theme at ANU medical school. He has supervised students working in infectious disease epidemiology, Indigenous health, and the health of disabled people.

Dr Harley has significant international experience and exposure.  As a consultant he has advised on outbreak investigation in Henan Province, China, vector-borne disease and climate change in Cambodia, and emerging disease surveillance in the Indian Ocean.  In 2012, 2013, and 2014 he's been invited to teach for Institut Pasteur and Oxford University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  He has major research interests in Thailand via the Thai Cohort Study.

He is CI on two NHMRC project grants worth over $2,000,000.  One, on which he is CIA, involves modelling of dengue virus and climate in Far North Queensland. He is extensively involved with the Thai Health Risk Transition Study, is a CI on the project grant funding the study.  


Researcher's projects

Dengue transmission under climate change in Northern Australia: linking ecological and population-based models to develop adaptive strategies

  • This project aims to use mathematical and statistical models to explore climatic and other determinants for dengue in Far North Queensland
  • NHMRC project grant funding (funded under special initiative Health Challenges of Climate Change)
  • Chief investigators: David Harley, Scott Ritchie, Craig Williams, Keith Dear and Tony McMichael
  • Associate investigators: Helen Faddy and Ivan Hanigan
  • Post-doctoral researcher: Elvina Viennet (see

Thai Health-Risk Transition: a National Cohort Study Phase II

  • The Thai Cohort Study (TCS) is about understanding how the health and wellbeing of Thai people is affected by the transition to more globalised lifestyles. The rapid economic development in Thailand in recent decades has changed its structure from primarily rural communities in agricultural settings to industrialized populations in urban centres. Urbanisation and increasing affluence has promoted stressful lifestyles characterized by energy-dense diets, decreased physical activity and dependence on mechanised transport. 
  • NHMRC Project grant ($1,571,175, 2010-2015)



Available student projects

I am happy for students considering research in my areas of expertise to contact me to discuss potential projects.

Current student projects

PhD Students

  • Celia Green:  Dietary patterns and climate change in Australia
  • Tam Tran:  Injury in Vietnam
  • Sifat Sharmin: Climate and dengue in Bangladesh
  • Mizan Rahman:  Visceral leishmaniasis in Bangladesh
  • Lachlan McIver:  Climate change and health in the Pacific
  • Kerri Viney:  Epidemiology of tuberculosis in the Pacific
  • Abdel-Latif Mohamed:  Benchmarking and overall performance variation in neonatal intensive care units in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory
  • Phillipa Dosseter:  Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in Fitzroy Crossing


  • Laura Saville: The health of Thai carers


Past student projects


  • Raymond Lovett (awarded 2013):  Screening for alcohol and drug use in an urban Indigenous community-controlled health service (Thesis title "Mob and country: a role for identity in alcohol screening for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in the ACT and region")
  • Yanni Sun (awarded 2013): Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Henan Province, China (Thesis title "The long term outcome and impact of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in Henan Province, China")
  • Vicky Ng (awarded 2012): Statistical modelling of Ross River virus disease in New South Wales (Thesis title "Developing predictive models for Ross River virus disease in New South Wales, Australia")
  • Michael Palmer (awarded 2011): Health services for people with disabilities in Vietnam (Thesis title "Targeting social protection for people with disabilities")


  • Eileen Baker (BA/BSc Honours I, 2013) Validation of tuberculosis data in the Thai Cohort Study
  • Ellen Hart (BA Honours I, 2012): "Sovereignty versus Health Security: outcomes of funding withdrawal" (thesis topic clinical services for tuberculosis in the Torres Strait)
  • Melanie Bannister-Tyrrell (PhB Honours I and University Medal, 2010): "A kaleidoscope of uncertainty: process-based modelling of dengue and climate in Cairns"


1. Williams CR, Gill BS, Mincham G, Mohd Zaki AH, Abdullah N, Mahiyuddin WR, Ahmad R, Shahar MK, Harley D, Viennet E, Azil A, Kamaluddin A. Testing the impact of virus importation rates and future climate change on dengue activity in Malaysia using a mechanistic entomology and disease model Epidemiology and Infection 2015:1-9.

2. Viney K….Harley D….  Tuberculosis and Diabetes Mellitus in the Republic of Kiribati: A Case-Control Study Tropical Medicine and International Health [Accepted 12 January 2015]

3. J. Cavanaugh K. Viney T. Kienene D. Harley P. M. Kelly A. Sleigh J. O’Connor S. Mase Effect of Diabetes on Tuberculosis Presentation and Outcomes in Kiribati Tropical Medicine and International Health [early online publication of accepted manuscript see]

4. Rahman K…Harley D…. Performance of kala-azar surveillance in Gaffargaon subdistrict of Mymensingh, Bangladesh PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases [Accepted 10 January 2015]

5. Faddy H, Dunford M, Seed C, Olds A, Harley D, Dean M, Racloz V, McCarthy S, Smith D, Flower R Seroprevalence of antibodies to Ross River and Barmah Forest viruses: Possible Implications for Blood Transfusion Safety After Extreme Weather Events Ecohealth Published online 24 December 2014




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Updated:  29 March 2015 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers