International and Immigrant Health

Research Overview

Professor Beverley-Ann Biggs leads a group of clinicians and researchers with interests in infectious diseases, maternal and child health, and immigrant health. International health activities are based in South and South-East Asia and have focused on; the introduction, evaluation and expanded use of new and under utilised vaccines; strengthening the capacity for research and control of malaria and parasitic infections; the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies and helminth infections in women and young children, and integrated approaches for improved child growth and development.

Refugee health projects have investigated the burden of undiagnosed infections and nutritional deficiencies in immigrants and refugees.

The Group is also active in Guideline and Policy Development through collaborations with the World Health Organisation, the Department of Health, Victoria and the Australasian Society for Infectious diseases.

Staff

  • Professor Beverley-Ann Biggs, University of Melbourne Department of Medicine and Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH)
  • Dr Sarah Hanieh, NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow
  • Dr Sant-Rayn Pasricha, NHMRC Research Fellow
  • Dr Kudzai Kanhutu, Refugee Health Fellow Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, RMH  
  • Dr Thomas Schulz, Refugee Health Fellow Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, RMH  
  • Dr Joanne Gardiner, Refugee Health Fellow, Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, RMH  
  • Dr Sabine Braat, Research Fellow
  • Dr Amir Ansari, Honorary Fellow
  • Ms Beth Hilton-Thorp, Project Consultant
  • Ms  Christalla Hajisava, Project Support Officer  
  • Dr Chris Morgan, PhD Student

Collaborators

  • Professor Jane Fisher, Jean Hailes Research Unit, Monash University
  • Associate Professor Julie Simpson, School of Population Health
  • Dr Thach Tran, Jean Hailes Research Unit, Monash University
  • Dr Tuan Tran, Research and Training Center for Community Development, Vietnam (RTCCD)
  • Ha Tran, RTCCD, Vietnam
  • Professor Willem de Vos, Helsinki University
  • Associate Professor Anne Salonen, Helsinki University  
  • Dr Jena  Derakhshani Hamadani, icddr,b, Bangladesh
  • Professor Shams El Arifeen, icddr,b, Bangladesh
  • Department of Human Services (DHS), Victoria
  • Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (VFST)
  • Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL)
  • Burnet Institute  
  • The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI)
  • Nossal Institute for Global Health
  • University of Sydney
  • Menzies Institute, Darwin
  • Research and Training Center for Community Development, Vietnam
  • National Institute of Malariology and Parasitology
  • World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva

Funding

  • NHMRC Project Grant:'Defining the impact of universal iron interventions in young children: a randomized controlled trial in rural Bangladesh'
  • NHMRC Early Career Research Grant:'The Stunting Risk Assessment Tool: identifying infants at high risk of impaired growth and development in resource poor settings'
  • NHMRC Project Grant: 'Learning clubs to improve women’s health and infant’s health and development in Vietnam: a cluster randomised controlled trial of a low-cost, evidence-informed, structured intervention'
  • NHMRC Project Grant:'Maternal mental health and anaemia as determinants of infant health and development in resource constrained settings'
  • NHMRC Project Grant: 'What are the clinical predictors and risk factors for child stunting and impaired cognitive development? Following up the Ha Nam cohort from birth to 3 years of age'
  • Grand Challenges, Canada, Grant: 'Learning Clubs Project Vietnam'
  • University of Melbourne Engagement Fund:'Targeting 1000 days in 10 years: A collaboration to support policy- focused research to benefit Myanmar's women and children'
  • The Atlantic Philanthropies Grant: 'Strengthening the capacity for research and control of malaria and parasitic diseases in Vietnam'
  • Department of Business and Innovation; with co-funding from the Institute for Broadband Enabled Society at the University of Melbourne and the Windermere Foundation:'Refugee Health clinical hub – a model for integrated clinical care'
  • Institute for Broadband Enabled Society at the University of Melbourne:'Linking to interpreters using videoconferencing'
  • Department of Human Services, Victoria, Grant:' HIV in Victoria’s African Communities: reducing risks and improving care'
  • Department of Human Services, Victoria, Grant:'Assessing the health of Burmese Refugees' http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/15/11/1769.htm
  • Department of Human Services, Victoria, Grant. 'A health and well being status report on refugee children and young people 0-18 years'
  • Department of Human Services, Victoria, Grant. 'Healthy bones and strong communities: Health literacy and effective health promotion in newly arrived African communities'

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Publications

  1. Schulz T, Biggs BA et al. Improvements in Patient Care: videoconferencing to improve access to interpreters during clinical consultations for refugee and immigrant patients. Australian Health Review.  39. 2015.
  2. TranTD, Fisher J, Hanieh S, Tran T, Simpson  JA, Tran H, Biggs B-A. Antenatal Iron Supplementation Regimens for Pregnant Women in Rural Vietnam and Subsequent Haemoglobin Concentration and Anaemia among Their Infants. PLoS ONE 04/2015; 10(4):e0125740.
  3. Hanieh S, Ha TT, Simpson JA, Thuy TT, Khuong NC, Thoang DD, Tran TD, Tuan T, Fisher J,  Biggs B-A, Exclusive breast feeding in early infancy reduces the risk of inpatient admission for diarrhea and suspected pneumonia in rural Vietnam: a prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health 12/2015; 15(1).  
  4. Biggs B-A, Casey G, Tinh T, Tien N, Cavalli-Sforza L, Montresor A. Is Weekly Iron Folic Acid Supplementation and Deworming in Vietnamese Women of Reproductive Age Sustainable? The Yen Bai Cohort 6 Years on. European Journal of Nutrition & Food Safety, 2015.Vol.: 5, Issue 5 (Special issue)
  5. Hanieh S, Ha TT, Simpson JA, Thuy TT, Khuong NC, Thoang DD, Tran TD, Tuan T, Fisher J, Biggs BA. Exclusive breast feeding in early infancy reduces the risk of inpatient admission for diarrhea and suspected pneumonia in rural Vietnam: a prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health 2015;15(1):1166.
  6. Grundy J, Biggs BA, Hipgrave DB. Public Health and International Partnerships in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. PLoS Med 2015 Dec;12(12):e1001929.
  7. Hanieh S, Ryan N, Biggs BA. Assessing enteric helminths in refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants. Microbiology Australia. Epub Feb 2016;10.1071/MA16006.

Research Projects



Faculty Research Themes

Child Health, Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine, Women's Health



Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Professor Beverley-Ann Biggs

Department / Centre

Medicine and Radiology