The Master of Philosophy (Applied Epidemiology), colloquially known as the MAE program, is a two-year research degree that teaches scholars epidemiology in the field, through coursework and learning in a field placement. There is a wide range of potential projects for MAE scholars at NCIRS, involving analysis of national datasets for vaccine preventable diseases, evaluation of national surveillance systems, and specific epidemiological research projects. Outbreak investigations are identified through our close collaboration with Health Protection NSW, the Western Sydney Public Health Unit (also located at the Westmead precinct) and the Communicable Diseases Network Australia.

MAE scholars based at NCIRS also have the opportunity to participate in our day-to-day activities, including attending the monthly NCIRS seminars and academic meetings. We encourage our scholars to undertake short-term projects or placements with Health Protection NSW and the Western Sydney Public Health Unit to increase the breadth of their experience. In appropriate circumstances, we are also supportive of short-term projects or placements with other organisations, including overseas placements.

There are ample opportunities for MAE scholars to publish work from their NCIRS projects in peer-reviewed journals. Scholars placed at NCIRS are also supported to attend the annual PHAA communicable diseases and immunisation conference.

NCIRS has hosted 13 MAE scholars between 2013 and 2022. Selected projects of these scholars have included:

Evaluation of surveillance systems

  • Evaluation of four surveillance systems reporting on risk factors of COVID-19 clinical severity in Australia
  • Evaluation of integration of rotavirus typing data into the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS)
  • Evaluation of the national Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance system
  • Evaluation of the national Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) Case Surveillance Scheme
  • Evaluation of the national AusVaxSafety vaccine safety surveillance system
  • Evaluation of an early warning alert and response system (EWARS in a Box) implemented after Cyclone Winston, Fiji 2016 
  • Evaluation of NSW Ebola surveillance system 
  • Evaluation of intussusception surveillance following introduction of rotavirus vaccines in Australia
  • Evaluation of the national varicella zoster virus (VZV) notification system in Australia

Data analysis/epidemiological investigations

  • Analysis of COVID-19 notification data in NNDSS
  • Analysis of adverse events in Australian adults following pneumococcal vaccination, using AusVaxSafety data
  • Case control study to assess the effectiveness of Hib vaccine in Australia
  • National epidemiological review of measles
  • National epidemiological review of diphtheria
  • National epidemiological review of pertussis, 2013–2018
  • National epidemiological review of invasive meningococcal disease, 1999–2017
  • National epidemiological review of pneumococcal disease, 2002-2016
  • National epidemiological review of varicella-zoster virus infection, 1998-2015
  • National epidemiological review of hepatitis A, 2000-2014
  • National epidemiological review of rubella, 2008-2012
  • National epidemiological review of pertussis, 2006-2012
  • National epidemiological review of measles, 2000 to 2011
  • National study to assess the effectiveness of data transfer to the Australian Immunisation Register
  • Epidemiological investigation of invasive and non-invasive pneumococcal in older NSW adults using linked datasets within the NSW Public Health Registry 
  • Rotavirus epidemiological review and vaccine effectiveness in NSW, 2010–2017
  • Identifying residual transmission of lymphatic filariasis in post-mass drug administration surveillance phase: Comparing school-based versus community-based surveys – American Samoa, 2016
  • vaxSMS: A randomised controlled trial of text messaging and calendar reminders for improving immunisation timeliness in areas of low immunisation coverage 
  • An assessment of measles vaccine effectiveness, Australia, 2006–2012 

Outbreak investigations

  • Investigation of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools in NSW
  • Investigation of a suspected foodborne hepatitis A outbreak in Korean Australians
  • Epidemiological and risk assessment of ultra-high-risk patient exposure to an active tuberculosis case, from a baseline contact investigation and follow-up
  • Investigation of varicella outbreak in child care centre, Brisbane
  • Epidemiology and whole genome sequencing of a point-source Salmonella Agona outbreak associated with sushi consumption in western Sydney
  • Investigation into increased lymphogranuloma venereum in New South Wales
  • Investigation of an outbreak of psittacosis at a veterinary school demonstrating a novel source of infection 
  • Investigation of a point-source Staphylococcus aureus outbreak at an elite sporting event 
  • Investigation of a measles outbreak in a paediatric hospital 

MAE scholars previously placed at NCIRS have, after their placement here, been employed in various settings, including NCIRS itself, WHO Western Pacific Region (WPRO), state health departments and academic research (PhD) in related areas.

For more information and to apply for the MAE program via the Australian National University, visit the university's website

Last updated July 2022