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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. I am also interested in diseases that are environmentally mediated. In previous research, I have estimated the burden of foodborne disease in Australia and globally. I have also examined risk factors for a range of enteric infections, 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. This has lead to research into management of outbreaks of human disease and the use of whole genome sequencing for public health investigation. 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 Convenor of the Master of Philosophy in Applied Epidemiology (MAE) program offered by the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health in the Research School of Population Health at the Australian National University. The MAE is the Australian Field Epidemiology Training Program. I have worked for 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. I hold research grants with the National Health & Medical Research Council, the Australian Research Council, and governments within Australia.

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

Estimating the burden of foodborne disease: Foodborne disease is a major cause of burden in Australia and globally. I conduct collaborative research to estimate the burden in terms of incidence, morbidity, mortality, cost and disability. I currently have research projects examining various aspects of the human health and societal impact of foodborne disease. These studies are being conducted in collaboration with colleagues in the ANU, government agencies and other universities internationally.

Using whole genome sequencing to understand foodborne disease: Whole genome sequencing is revolutionalising microbiology, including characterisation of human pathogens. I am conducting research with public health laboratories in Australia and in Europe to identify how to better use these tools to identify and track foodborne disease outbreaks occuring internationally.

Source attribution of enteric pathogens: I conduct research into methods of assessing the sources of enteric infections, such as salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis. This can be through analysis of reports of outbreaks of human disease, molecular typing of pathogens, or mathematical modelling.

The ACT Asbestos Health Study: In the 1960's and 70's, approximately 1100 houses in the Australian Capital Territory were insulated with loose fill amosite asbestos. In 2015, the ACT Government contracted the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health to conduct a study examining (1) the descriptive epidemiology of mesothelioma in the ACT, (2) focus groups of people living in these houses, (3) a cross sectional survey, and (4) a study examining the risks of developing mesothelioma from livining in an affected house.

Current student projects

Meru Sheel (MAE Scholar)

  • National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance

Brigitta Osterberger (MAE Scholar)

  • Australian Government Department of Health

Alex Marmor (MAE Scholar)

  • Australian Government Department of Health

Johanna Dups (MAE Scholar)

  • Health Department WA
  • Pathwest Laboratory

Amy Burroughs (MAE Scholar)

  • Australian Government Department of Health

Tanyth deGooyer (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 gastroenteritis in a cohort of older Australians

Cameron Moffatt (PhD Scholar)

  • The outcome of serious Campylobacter infection in Australia

Laura Ford (PhD Scholar)

  • The epidemiology of Salmonella infection in Australia

Neil Franklin (PhD Scholar)

  • Foodborne disease in New South Wales 

 

Past student projects

Lucas Mills (MPhil App Epid, 2014-5)

Zoe Cutcher (MPhil App Epid, 2014-5)

Jason Agostino (MPhil App Epid, 2014-5)

Courtney Lane (MPhil App Epid, 2013-4)

Anna-Jane Glynn-Robinson (MPhil App Epid, 2013-4)

Anita Williams (MPhil App Epidl, 2013-4)

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:  25 May 2016 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers