August report for Epidemiology for Policy and Practice

5 August 2020

Good News

  • Chatu Yapa, Tehzeeb Zulfiqar and Jenny Welsh graduated with their PhDs on 31 July.

New grants/funding

  • Kamalini Lokuge and their team received Department of Health funding to work in partnership with the ACT and SA Chief Allied Health Officers and Canberra City Health Network, a private health service, to develop guidelines and checklists for allied health professionals and centres to use while providing essential services to patients and at the same time, minimising risk of COVID-19 transmission.
  • 2020 HCF Research Foundation / RACGP Foundation COVID-19 Research Grant ($50K) for project “The effect of COVID-19 and the introduction of temporary telehealth items on use and costs of GP services: a whole-of-population linked data study.”: Butler, Korda, Joshy and Douglas

Keynote and invited presentations

  • Dr Lisa Whop and Kamalini Lokuge presented 'Protecting, detecting, and controlling COVID-19 in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities in Queensland' to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Advisory Group on COVID-19 on critical control points and enhanced surveillance.
  • Kamalini Lokuge presented to the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia and New Zealand Government, as well as VIC, SA, WA, and ACT states on optimising feasible surveillance for detection, elimination, and ongoing prevention of COVID-19 community transmission; provides the basis for on the importance of testing symptomatic people.


  • Professor Emily Banks was awarded The 2020 Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand President’s Award for outstanding contribution to research in smoking.

Outreach and engagement

  • Kamalini has been seconded to the VIC Health Department to support their efforts in dealing with the second outbreak in Melbourne (4 Jul - Present); She will be providing expert advice on risk mitigation, understanding low uptake/participation of community members for testing, identifying barriers and enablers of engaging with community, identifying ways to strengthen rapid real time testing surveillance.
  • Dr Jason Agostino was invited to present to staff at the weekly Indigenous Health Division meeting at the Australian Government Department of Health. Jason spoke about the implications of the Absolute Risk Approach to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander CVD program of work and answered questions from division staff. The program will come to a close at the end of August. Aspects of the work will be continued as part of a new program of work also funded by the Department of Health (announced previously) that aims to improve chronic disease risk assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Kamalini and Steph Davis participated in the ANU advisory panel on COVID-19 control strategies for return to campus: surveillance, ARI surveys, social distancing.
  • Kamalini Lokuge, Steph Davis, and Grazia Caleo worked on COVID-19 control strategies: developing home based care protocols
  • Kamalini Lokuge chaired the Prevention of COVID-19 Resurgence working group for the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, which produced the report advising the Australian Government on priorities for preventing the resurgence of COVID-19 transmission

Media releases/interest

  • Barrie Cassidy's One Plus One interview with Dr Norman Swan (Episode 8, 2020) - see minutes 7:35 - 12:15; he talks about interviewing experts like Kamalini Lokuge and sharing this evidence that was counter to what the government was saying which led to the government reaching out to experts to develop the COVID-19 health response for the nation (; Norman Swan mentions Kamalini as one of Australia's best expert at the ANU on infectious diseases and handling them; interviews with her and other led the government to listen to her and others in developing a COVID-19 health response for the nation.
  • Kamalini Lokue was a panel member for a discussion on COVID-19 for the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences - 'COVID-19 webinar: Where to from here? Charting a course for resilience and recovery'

Other news

  • Dr Ellie Paige joined the College Research Committee as an early-mid career researcher representative

Papers accepted/published:

  • Glass, K., Caleo, G., O’Donovan, D., Street, T., Roberts, L., Davis, S., Banks, E., Lokuge, K. Exit Strategies: Optimising feasible surveillance for detection, elimination and ongoing prevention of COVID-19 community transmission. MedRchive posted 23 April 2020.
    • Resubmitted to BMC Medicine – awaiting review process
    • Article has been cited by the Series of National Guidelines for Australia, and in the Australian National Disease Surveillance Plan for COVID-19 for the importance of testing symptomatic people
    • Praise from Professor Wilder-Smith, Co-Chair, Lancet Commission on Pandemic Preparedness when she emailed stating, 'I have read and reviewed many, possibly thousands, manuscripts in the past 5 months, but yours is one of the best papers offering most practical and pragmatic strategies.' (30 May 2020)
  • Hughes, V., Paige, E., Welsh J., Joshy, G., Banks, E. & Korda, R. Socioeconomic variation in coronary procedure rates and the contribution of private health care in Australia. International Journal for Equity in Health (Accepted 3 July 2020).
  • Erlangsen, A., Banks, E., Joshy, G., Calear, A., Welsh, J., Batterham, PJ. & Salvador-Carulla, L. Predictors of suicide and deliberate self-harm: a population-based cohort study of 266,512 persons aged 45 years and over. Social Psychiatry and Social Epidemiology (Accepted 30 June 2020).
  • Lotta LA, Pietzner M, Stewart I, Wittemans LBL, Li1 C, Bonelli R, Raffler J, Biggs EK, Oliver-Williams C, Auyeung VPW, Luan J, Wheeler E, Paige E, et al. Cross-platform genetic discovery of small molecule products of metabolism and application to clinical outcomes. Nature Genetics (accepted 29 July 2020)
  • Thurber K, Thandrayen J, Banks E, Doery K, Sedgwick M, Lovett R. Strengths-based approaches for quantitative data analysis: a case study using the Australian Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children. Social Science and Medicine – Population Health (Accepted 28 July 2020).

Progress on research projects

The Multiple Cause of Death Project lead by Dr Grace Joshy held their second investigator meeting for 2020