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PROF John Mathews




  • Research Expertise
    Epidemiology, biostatistics, mathematical modelling, genetic epidemiology, Aboriginal health, transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, herbicides and cancer, radiation and cancer, public health policy 

    John Mathews has had an eclectic career in health research, public health and health policy. He has a deep understanding of the biological and social drivers of ill-health, and of the social and technological challenges for the future. He also has a deep interest in building theoretical models for disease processes, most recently in relation to influenza and radiogenic cancer.

    He spent time in Papua New Guinea where he worked on the epidemiology of kuru, with subsequent research appointments in Oxford and Melbourne before he moved to Darwin in 1985 to establish the Menzies School of Health Research, which now a highly regarded for its work in Aboriginal and tropical health.

    In 1999 he moved to Canberra as Head of the National Centre for Disease Control, and subsequently as Deputy Chief Medical Officer to the Australian Government. In this position he supported the Population Health Division and the Chief Medical Officer with strategic and technical advice on health policy, particularly in areas related to risk assessment, BSE (mad-cow disease), antibiotic resistance, SARS, pandemic influenza, and vaccination policy. He also acted as CMO from time to time and led the Australian delegation to the World Health Assembly in Geneva, and regional meetings in Manila

    John Mathews is now an honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Melbourne. In recent years he has been Principal Investigator on five NHMRC-funded grants of relevance to health policy. He also mentors young researchers in Melbourne and in other parts of Australia, he provides advice in an honorary capacity to the Murdoch Institute, the Royal Childrens Hospital, the    


Selected publications


Investigator on


Education and training

  • DMedSc, University of Melbourne 2012
  • DSc, Charles Darwin University 2001
  • PhD, University of Melbourne 1974
  • MD, University of Melbourne 1971
  • MB BS, University of Melbourne 1964
  • BSc, University of Melbourne 1961

Awards and honors

  • Charles Darwin Medal, Charles Darwin University, 2011
  • Menzies School of Health Research, 2003
  • Address to National Press Club, National Press Club, 2003
  • Hollows Oration, Royal Australasian College of Ophthalmology, 2002
  • Centenary Medal, Australian Government, 2001
  • Fellow of the Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, 1997
  • Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, Australia, 1995
  • Member of the Order of Australia, AM, 1994
  • Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 1974