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John Mathews

Melbourne School Of Population And Global Health
science & technology
life sciences & biomedicine
medicine, general & internal
general & internal medicine
John Mathews's Profile Picture

John Mathews

Medicine, Dentistry And Health Sciences
John Mathews's Profile Picture

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 Menzies School of Health Research, and the Institute of Medical Research in Papua New Guinea. He recently relinquished his position as Executive Director of the Menzies Foundation (part-time). As a health consultant or honorary he continues to provide occasional advice to WHO, government, universities and industry. In 2009 he reviewed the scientific evidence for a government review of TSE and vCJD policy.

Through much of his career, John Mathews has served as an adviser to government: through numerous committees of NHMRC, as Senior Scientific Adviser to the Agent Orange Royal Commission, and as an adviser on ionising radiation, Aboriginal health and other matters. He has also advised the Wellcome Trust and WHO on international health and communicable disease matters.

Most recently, he has planned and carried out the largest ever study of cancer risks following low-dose radiation from CT scans.

John Mathews has a continuing commitment to health research and health policy directed towards good social ends.


Displaying the 12 most recent projects by John Mathews.



Project Types


Research Grant


Research Contracts


Internal Research Grant

Scholarly Works

Displaying the 201 most recent scholarly works by John Mathews.

Honours, Awards and Fellowships


Member of the Order of Australia


Charles Darwin Medal

Charles Darwin University


Address to National Press Club

National Press Club


Menzies School of Health Research


Hollows Oration

Royal Australasian College of Ophthalmology


Centenary Medal

Australian Government


FAFPHM - Fellow of the Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine


FRCPA - Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, Australia


FRACP - Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians





Honorary Supervisor

Melbourne School Of Population And Global Health


Doctor of Medical Science (Honorary)

University of Melbourne

Doctor of Science (Honorary)

Charles Darwin University

Doctor of Philosophy

University of Melbourne

Doctor of Medicine

University of Melbourne

Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery

University of Melbourne

Bachelor of Science

University of Melbourne