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The Australian National University

Associate Professor David Harley

BSc (Zoology, Hons I) MBBS PhD FAFPHM MMedSc (Clin Epid) FACTM
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
  • Zoology 0608
  • Invertebrate Biology 060808
  • Vertebrate Biology 060809

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, general practitioner, 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 250 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.

He worked as a doctor in Far North Queensland in the 1990s, gaining experience in high risk obstetrics, rural and remote medicine, Indigenous Health, and General Practice.  During 2002-7 he treated adults with intellectual disabilities in a tertiary hospital setting. He is particularly proud of his resarch on the use of antipsychotic medication for aggression - placebo is safer, cheaper and no less effective (Tyrer et al., Lancet, 2008). He continues to practice medicine two mornings per week in Canberra.

Since commencing at ANU he has taken on a major teaching role as chair of the population health theme at ANU medical school. Annually from 2012 to 2015 he's been invited to teach for Institut Pasteur and Oxford University in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  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.    

He has research interests in Thailand via the Thai Cohort Study.  He has been CI on two NHMRC project grants worth over $2,000,000 since commencing at ANU.  

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

  • Sifat Sharmin: Climate and dengue in Bangladesh (Chair of panel)
  • Phillipa Dosseter:  Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder in Fitzroy Crossing (Chair of panel)
  • Professor Abdel-Latif Mohamed:  Benchmarking and overall performance variation in neonatal intensive care units in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (Chair of panel)
  • Tam Tran:  Road traffic injury in Vietnam
  • Dr Lachlan McIver:  Climate change and health in the Pacific
  • Celia Green:  Dietary patterns and climate change in Australia (Advisor)

ANU Medical School research project

  • Thomas Mills: diabetes and tuberculosis


  • Lachlan McIver (supervisor)
  • Belinda Jones (mentor)


Past student projects


  • Kerri Viney (awarded 2015):  Tuberculosis in the Pacific (Thesis title "Problems and prospects for tuberculosis prevention and care in the Pacific Islands")
  • Mizan Rahman (awarded 2015):  Visceral leishmaniasis in Bangladesh
  • 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")


  • Laura Saville (BSc Honours I, 2015) "Is caregiving associated with hypertension? A cross-sectional study of 39,156 Thai adults"
  • 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"


Yiengprugsawan V, Leach L, Berecki-Gisolf J, Harley D, Kendig H, Seubsman S-A, Sleigh, AC Caregiving and mental health among workers: longitudinal evidence from a large cohort of adults in Thailand SSM - Population Health [accepted 16 January 2016]

McIver L, Viney K, Harley D, Hanna L and Kienene T.  Climate change, overcrowding and non-communicable diseases: the 'triple whammy' of tuberculosis transmission risk in Pacific Atoll countries Annals of the ACTM 2015;16(3):57-61.

 Sun Y, Harley D, Vally H and Sleigh A. Comparison of characteristics and mortality in multidrug resistant (MDR) and non-MDR tuberculosis patients in China BMC Public Health [in press]

Viney K Damian Hoy,Adam Roth, Paul Kelly, David Harley and Adrian Sleigh The epidemiology of tuberculosis in the Pacific, 2000 to 2013. Western Pacific Surveillance and Response Journal, 2015, 6(3). doi:10.5365/wpsar.2015.6.1.001

Bannister-Tyrrell M, Harley D, & McMichael AJ Detection and attribution of climate change effects on infectious diseases in Health of People, Places and Planet: Reflections based on Tony McMichael’s four decades of contribution to epidemiological understanding Edited by Colin D. Butler, Jane Dixon and Anthony G. Capon ISBN 9781925022407

Sharmin S Glass K Viennet E & Harley D Interaction of Mean Temperature and Daily Fluctuation Influences Dengue Incidence in Dhaka, Bangladesh PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases [Accepted 26 June 2015]




Projects and Grants

Grants are drawn from ARIES. To add Projects or Grants please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  12 February 2016 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers