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The Australian National University

Associate Professor Martyn Kirk

BAppSci (WIAE), MAppEpid (ANU), PhD (ANU)
Convener, Master of Philosophy in Applied Epidemiology
ANU College of Medicine, Biology and Environment
T: +61 2 6125 5609

Areas of expertise

  • Epidemiology 111706
  • Health Information Systems (Incl. Surveillance) 111711
  • Aged Health Care 111702
  • Infectious Diseases 110309

Research interests

My research interests focus on the epidemiology of diseases that may be transmitted by contaminated food or water. In previous research, I have estimated the burden of disease in Australia and examined risk factors for a range of foodborne diseases, such as salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis, listeriosis and Shiga Toxin producing E. coli. I have investigated a wide range of disease outbreaks, including those caused by infectious agents, such as Legionnaires' disease, cholera, trematode infections, salmonellosis, shigellosis, and Campylobacter infections, and intoxications due to environmental contaminants, such as bromine, copper and cyanobacterial compounds. My PhD research was on the incidence of gastroenteritis and foodborne diseases in elderly people. I am interested in research that improves surveillance of infectious diseases and the response of government agencies to outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Biography

I am currently an Associate Professor and Head of the Master of Philosophy in Applied Epidemiology (MAE) program offered by the Australian National University. The MAE is the Australian Field Epidemiology Training Program. I have worked for the over twenty years in State and Territory, and federal health departments in the areas of food, water and infectious diseases. In 2000, I was appointed as the Coordinating Epidemiologist of OzFoodNet to establish a national network for the investigation of foodborne diseases. I am an alumni of the MAE Program, which I completed in 1997. I have consulted for the World Health Organization on gastrointestinal diseases and am a member of the WHO advisory body - the Foodborne Disease Epidemiology Reference Group. I am a member of the Communicable Diseases Network Australia and an adjunct lecturer at the Monash University Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine.

Senior Lecturer & Convener MPhil (App Epid) - Medical School & National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University (May 2011-2013)

Senior Epidemiologist - OzFoodNet, Australian Government Department of Health & Ageing (Part-time, 2008 - 2011)

National Health & Medical Research Council Public Health Scholar - The Australian National University (Full-time, 2008 - 2011)

Coordinating Epidemiologist - OzFoodNet, Australian Government Department of Health & Ageing (2003 - 2008) & Food Standards Australia New Zealand (2000 - 2003)

Infectious Disease Epidemiologist: Department of Human Services Victoria (1999–2000)

Environmental Epidemiologist: Department of Human Services Victoria (1997–1999)

Epidemiology Registrar: Australian Field Epidemiology Training Program, South Australian Health Commission (1995–1997)

Water Scientist: Department of Human Services Victoria (1989–1995)

Researcher's projects

National Gastroenteritis Survey II 2008: The National Gastroenteritis Survey II 2008 (NGSII-2008) was a computer assisted telephone cross-ssectional survey conducted across Australia during 2008 and 2009. The survey used a similar methodology to the first National Gastroenteritis Survey conducted in 2001 and 2002. The findings of the survey are important for our understanding of gastroenteritis epidemiology in Australia, as most episodes are mild and do not result in a vist to a medical practitioner. The NGSII-2008 was conducted by the Australian Government Department of Health & Ageing under the OzFoodNet program of work, and the New South Wales Food Authority.

Estimation of the burden of foodborne disease in Australia: Previously OzFoodNet and the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health estimated that there were approximately 5.4 million cases of foodborne disease in Australia each year, circa 2000. There is a need to revise this estimate of foodborne diseae burden in light of new information on under reporting of foodborne disease, estimates of gastroenteritis incidence and occurrence of non-notifiable diseases. This work is funded by Food Standards Australia New Zealand and the New South Wales Food Authority.

Predicting the etiology of outbreaks in Aged Care Facilities: Outbreaks in Aged Care Facilities are very common and most are due to highly transmissible viruses spread from person-to-person, such as norovirus. It is important to distinguish food- or  waterborne outbreaks in these facilities rapidly, as the control measures are different to those of outbreaks due to person-to-person spread. In this study, the features of outbreaks are being compared by etiological agent to see if it is possible for facility managers and public health agencies to distinguish foodborne outbreaks from other types by key characteristics. This study is being conducted in collaboration with the Victorian Department of Health.

Current student projects

Courtney Lane (MAE Scholar)

  • Victorian Department of Health
  • Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory

Anita Williams (MAE Scholar)

  • Pathwest Laboratory

Anna-Jane Glynn Robinson (MAE Scholar)

  • Australian Government Department of Health

Zoe Cutcher (MAE Scholar)

  • Victorian Department of Health

Wimalin Rimpekool (PhD Scholar)

  • Understanding the impact on Thai consumers of nutrition labelling of food

Yingxi Chen (PhD Scholar)

  • The epidemiology of Clostridium difficile

Cameron Moffatt (PhD Scholar)

  • The outcome of Campylobacter infection in Australia

 

Past student projects

Alexis Pillsbury (MPhil App Epid, 2012-3)

Ee Laine Tay (MPhil App Epid, 2012-3)

Yingxi Chen (MPH(Research), 2013)

Katie Thurber (MPhil, 2011-2012)

Kate Astridge (MAppEpid, 2010-2011)

Polly Wallace (MAppEpid, 2009-2010)

Beverley Patterson (MAppEpid, 2007-2009)

Christopher Oxenford (MAppEpid, 2004-2006)

Nola Tomaska (MAppEpid, 2001-2003)

Publications

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Updated:  20 April 2014 / Responsible Officer:  Pro VC (Research and Research Training) / Page Contact:  Researchers