Global Health

Research Overview

Professor Beverley-Ann Biggs leads a group of clinicians and researchers with interests in infectious diseases, nutrition, and immigrant health. International health activities are based in Vietnam, Bangladesh and Malawi and include integrated approaches for improved child growth and development, the assessment and prevention of iron deficiency in women and children, and the control of parasitic diseases.

Refugee health projects focus on assessing and treating undiagnosed infections and malnutrition in immigrants and refugees.

Indigenous Australians in remote communities also face challenges related to malnutrition and infectious diseases. A current initiative in this area is the evaluation of a community-based program that encourages and supports metabolic health.

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.


  • Professor Beverley-Ann Biggs, Head, International and Immigrant Health, Department of Infectious Diseases, Doherty Institute, and Victorian Infection Diseases Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH)
  • Dr Janet Pasricha, Refugee Health Fellow Victorian Infectious Diseases Service,  RMH
  • Dr Joanne Gardiner, Refugee Health Fellow, Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, RMH
  • Dr Sabine Braat, Senior Research Fellow – Biostatistics
  • Dr Ricardo Ataide, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health Trials
  • Mr Benjamin Harrap, Research Assistant – Refugee Health
  • Mr Jacob Egwunye, Research Assistant  – Global Health
  • Mr Jerry Jin, Research Assistant
  • Ms Beth Hilton-Thorp, Project Consultant
  • Ms Christalla Hajisava, Admin/Project Support Officer

Honorary Staff


  • Dominic Hare (MPhil)
  • Thomas Schulz (MD)
  • Victoria Nikolakakis (Honours) assisting Dr Ricardo Ataide


Major Collaborators

  • Professor Jane Fisher, Jean Hailes Research Unit, Monash University, and her group
  • Associate Professor Sant-Rayn Parischa, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI), and his group
  • Associate Professor Julie Simpson, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
  • Dr Tuan Tran, Director, Research and Training Center for Community Development (RTCCD), Vietnam
  • Ms Ha Tran and the RTCCD team
  • Dr Jena Derakhshani Hamadani, icddr,b, Bangladesh, and her group
  • Professor Shams El Arifeen, icddr,b, Bangladesh
  • Professor Kamija Phiri, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Malawi, and his group
  • Professor Len Harrison, WEHI, and his group
  • Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Victoria
  • Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture (VFST)
  • Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL)
  • World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva


Recent Funding

  • NHMRC Targeted Research Grant, 2020-2022: Evaluation of a community-led nutrition and lifestyle program for weight loss and metabolic health: a randomised controlled trial.
  • NHMRC Project Grant, 2018-2022: IRMA: Benefits and safety of IRon supplementation with MAlaria chemoprevention to children in Malawi (IRMA) - A randomised controlled trial.
  • NHMRC Project Grant, 2016-2020:Defining the impact of universal iron interventions in young children: a randomized controlled trial in rural Bangladesh.
  • NHMRC Project Grant, 2016-2019: 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, 2013-2016: 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.
  • NHMRC Early Career Fellowship, 2015-2019:The Stunting Risk Assessment Tool: identifying infants at high risk of impaired growth and development in resource poor settings.

Other Funding

  • MDHS Internal Research Grant, 2020: Feasibility and stakeholder engagement for a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the Hope for health Program in a remote indigenous community.
  • Shepherdson Foundation Research Grant, 2018-2020: Novel approaches to improve understanding of anaemia and its determinants in Indigenous communities.
  • The Royal Melbourne Hospital Home Lottery Grant in Aid, 2018-2020: Enteric pathogen infection and gut microbiota disturbance-association with child cognition in remote Indigenous communities.
  • R@M-Interdisciplinary Research Initiatives (Hallmarks & MSOG) Collaborations Grant, 2016-2017: New approaches to improve nutrition in indigenous children in a remote Yolngu community.  University of Melbourne.
  • Victorian Government support for Refugee Health Fellow program.

Research Outcomes

View the complete listing of Professor Bigg's publications

Research Publications

From 2013-2020

  1. Pasricha S-R, Hayes, E., Kalumba, K., Biggs BA. Effect of daily iron supplementation on health in children aged 4-23 months: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Lancet G H;1:e77-e86. 2013;1.
  2. Hanieh S, Ha TT, Simpson JA, Casey GJ, Khuong NC, Thoang DD, Thuy TT, Pasricha S-R, Tran TD, Tuan T, Dwyer T, Fisher J, Biggs BA. The effect of intermittent antenatal iron supplementation on maternal and infant outcomes in rural Viet Nam: a cluster randomised trial. PLoS Med. 2013;10(6):e1001470.
  3. 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.
  4. Grundy J, Biggs BA, Hipgrave DB. Public Health and International Partnerships in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. PLoS Med. 2015;12(12):e1001929.
  5. Casey GJ, Tinh TT, Tien NT, Hanieh S, Cavalli-Sforza LT, Montresor A, Biggs BA. Sustained effectiveness of weekly iron-folic acid supplementation and regular deworming over 6 years in women in rural Vietnam. PLoS NTD. 2017;11(4):e0005446.
  6. Chaves NJ, Paxton GA, Biggs BA, Thambiran A, Gardiner J, Williams J, Smith MM, Davis JS. The Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases and Refugee Health Network of Australia recommendations for health assessment for people from refugee-like backgrounds: an abridged outline. Med J Aust. 2017;206(7):310-315.
  7. Hanieh S, Ha TT, Simpson JA, Braat S, Thuy TT, Tran TD, King J, Tuan T, Fisher J, Biggs BA. Effect of low versus higher dose antenatal iron supplementation on child health outcomes at 36 months of age in Viet Nam: longitudinal follow up of a cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ Global Health. 2017;2:e000368.
  8. Hasan MI, Hossain SJ, Braat S, Dibley M, Fisher J, Grantham-McGregor S, Tofail F, Simpson JA, El Arifeen S, Hamadani J Biggs BA. Benefits and Risks of Iron interventions in Children (BRISC): protocol for a three-arm parallel-group randomized controlled field trial in Bangladesh. BMJ Open. 2017;7:e018325.
  9. Schulz TR, Edwards R, Thurnheer MC, Yuen L, Littlejohn M, Revill P, Chu M, Tanyeri F, Wade A, Biggs BA, Sasadeusz J. Hepatitis B amongst Immigrants from Myanmar: Genotypes and their Clinical Relevance. J Med Virol. 2018; 90(2):271-276.
  10. Hare DJ, Ph.D; Cardoso BR, PhD; Szymlek-Gay EA, PhD; Biggs BA. Neurological effects of iron supplementation in infancy: Finding the balance between health and harm in iron-replete children. Lancet Child & Adolescent. eb 2018; 2(2):144-156.
  11. Fisher J, Tran T, Luchters S, Tran TD, Hipgrave DB, Hanieh S, Tran H, Simpson J, Nguyen T, Le M, Biggs BA. Addressing multiple modifiable risks through structured community-based Learning Clubs to improve maternal and infant health and infant development in rural Vietnam: protocol for a parallel group cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open. 2018;17;8(7): e023539.
  12. Gyorkos, TW, Montresor A, Belizario V, Biggs BA, Bradley M, Brooker SJ, Casapia M, Cooper P, Deb S, L Gilbert NL, Imtia R, Khieu V, Knopp S, Lincetto O, Mofid LS, Mupfasoni D, Vail C, Vercruysse J. The right to deworming: the case for girls and women of reproductive age. PLoS Negl Dis. 2018; 12(11):e0006740.
  13. Myran D, Morton R, Biggs BA, Veldhuijzen I, Castelli F, Tran A, Staub L, Agbata E, Rahman P, Pareek M.  Noori T, Pottie K. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of screening for and vaccination against Hepatitis B virus among migrants in the EU/EEA: a systematic review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 2018; 15:1898.
  14. Park CS, Vogel E, Larson LM, Myers SS, Daniel M, Biggs BA. The global effect of extreme weather events on nutrient supply: a superposed epoch analysis. Lancet Planetary Health. 2019; 3(10) e429-e438.
  15. Hanieh S, Braat S, Simpson JA, Ha TTT, Tran TD, Tuan T, Fisher J, Biggs BA. The Stunting Tool for Early Prevention (STEP-36): Development and external validation of a novel tool to predict risk of stunting in children at three years of age. BMJ Global Health 2019; 4(6):e001801.
  16. Larson, L, Biggs, BA. Importance of follow-up studies to examine sustained effects of early nutrition interventions. Pediatrics. 2020; 145 (3), e20193827
  17. Tonkin, E, Kennedy, D, Hanieh, S, Biggs, BA, Kearns, T, Gondarra, V, Dhurrkay, R, Brimblecombe, J.  Dietary intake of Aboriginal Australian children aged 6-36 months in a remote community: a cross-sectional study. Nutr J. 2020; 19(34):1-12.
  18. Schulz TR, Kanhutu K, Sasadeusz J, Watkinson S, Biggs BA. Using Telehealth to Improve Access to Hepatitis C Treatment in the Direct-Acting Antiviral Therapy Era. J Telemed Telecare. 2020;26(3):180-185.
  19. Jena Derakhshani Hamadani, Mohammed Imrul Hasan, Andrew J Baldi, Sheikh Jamal Hossain, Shamima Shiraji, Mohammad Saiful Alam Bhuiyan, Syeda Fardina Mehrin, Jane Fisher, Fahmida Tofail, S M Mulk Uddin Tipu, Sally Grantham-McGregor, Beverley-Ann Biggs, Sabine Braat, Sant-Rayn Pasricha. Immediate impact of stay-at-home orders to control COVID-19 transmission on socioeconomic conditions, food insecurity, mental health and intimate partner violence in Bangladeshi women and their families: an interrupted time-series. The Lancet Global Health. Published online August 25, 2020

Research Projects

For project inquiries, contact our research group head.

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology, Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine, Women's Health, Infectious Diseases and Immunity

Key Contact

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

Department / Centre

Infectious Diseases

Unit / Centre

Global Health

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