Professor Martyn Kirk

BAppSci (WIAE), MAppEpid (ANU), PhD (ANU)
NHMRC Career Development Fellow
College of Health & Medicine
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

I conduct research into diseases transmitted by contaminated foods, waters or environments. 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 the use of whole genome sequencing for public health investigation. My goal is to improve surveillance of infectious and environmentally mediated diseases and the response of government agencies to outbreaks and clusters of diseases.


I have worked for over twenty years in State, Territory and federal health departments in the areas of food, water and infectious diseases. Previously, I have run the Australian Field Epidemiology Training Program - the Master of Philosophy in Applied Epidemiology (MAE) program - and the Australian network for foodborne disease investigation - OzFoodNet. 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 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.

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.

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.

The PFAS Health Study: I lead a team of people conducting studies to examine the health impact of per- and poly-fluorinated alkyl substances in the communities of Oakey, Queensland and Williamtown, NSW.

Current student projects

Brigitta Osterberger (MAE Scholar)

  • Australian Government Department of Health

Kelley Meder (MAE Scholar)

  • National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance

Cushla Coffey (MAE Scholar)

  • Queensland Health

Andrea Parisi (PhD Scholar)

  • The epidemiology of severe Salmonella infection

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 

Angus McClure (PhD Scholar)

  • Mathematical modelling of Clostridium difficile

Amy Parry (PhD Scholar)

  • Defining the role of field epidemiologists in health emergencies

Aaliya Ibrahim (PhD Scholar)

  • Epidemiology of Shigella and ETEC

Liana Varrone (PhD Scholar, external)

  • The genomic epidemiology of Campylobacter infection in Australia

Joel Aik (DrPH, external)

  • Food safety and hygiene in Singapore


Past student projects

Katherine Todd (MPhil App Epid, 2016-2017)

Yingxi Chen (PhD, 2013-2017)

Wimalin Rimpekool (PhD, 2012-6)

Tanyth de Gooyer (MPhil App Epid, 2015-6)

Tambri Housen (MPhil App Epid, 2015-6)

Johanna Dups (MPhil App Epid, 2015-6)

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)


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Updated:  04 December 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers