Our Team

Our team members have an excellent track record of working collaboratively on STI and blood-borne virus research projects.

CRE-ASH’s internal board of management includes people with a range of expertise, and its external advisory board and Aboriginal reference group will provide guidance to ensure that CRE-ASH research and capacity development focuses on communities’ needs.

Our overall aim is to work collaboratively to address the burden of preventable STIs and BBVs that have continued to affect Aboriginal people disproportionately.

Our research findings will be translated to inform development of a National Aboriginal STI and Blood-borne Virus Research Strategy, and national performance indicators for addressing STI and blood borne viruses relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary care services and systems.

The CRE is coordinated from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), in close collaboration with the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

International context

Globally, there is no other Indigenous research network similar to CRE-ASH. It is anticipated that CRE-ASH will further build existing collaborative links of CRE-ASH CIs with investigators in the USA and Canada, and lead to new international research initiatives.

The CRE will benefit from the involvement of Professor Sevgi Aral (CDC Canada) and Professor James Blanchard (University of Manitoba, Canada), who are world leaders in the development and application of “Program Science” – the application of theoretical and empirical scientific knowledge to improve the design, implementation and evaluation of public health programs.

Chief Investigators


Principal Investigator / CI-A:

Professor James Ward, The University of Queensland

Associate Professor James Ward the Director of the Poche Centre for Indigenous Health and Professor within the School of Public Health at the University of Queensland. He has extensive experience in sexual health and blood borne virus research, drug and alcohol research, offender health and vaccine preventable diseases.



CI-B: Professor John Kaldor – University of New South Wales

Professor Kaldor is internationally recognised as a world leader in the epidemiology and prevention of HIV and other STIs and blood-borne viruses. He has had a strong involvement in the health of populations experiencing economic and social disadvantage, with a particular emphasis in recent years on the health of Aboriginal people.



CI-C: Professor Basil Donovan, University of New South Wales

Professor Donovan is a registered Sexual Health Physician and Public Health Physician with over 35 years of clinical and population health experience. Professor Donovan’s experience includes designing and implementing a range of research and capacity building projects with Aboriginal Medical Services in urban, regional, rural, and remote settings around Australia.



CI-D: Professor Rebecca Guy, the Kirby Institute

Rebecca Guy is Professor and Program Head with the Surveillance Evaluation and Research Program at the Kirby Institute for infection and immunity in society, UNSW. She is an epidemiologist with expertise in surveillance and public health interventions related to HIV and STIs. Her research focuses on reducing the impact of STIs in vulnerable populations, including interventions to prevent transmission of HIV and STIs in a range of settings.



CI-E: Professor Christopher Fairley, Monash University

Professor Christopher (Kit) Fairley is Director of the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre and Professor of Public Health at Monash University. He holds three specialist medical fellowships from the College of Physicians and is an editor of the Journal ‘Sexual Health’. His principal research interests are the public health control of STIs and the effectiveness of clinical services.



CI-G: Professor Donna Mak, Communicable Disease Control Directorate, Western Australia

Professor Mak is a public health physician in Western Australia’s Communicable Disease Control Directorate. She has contributed to many programs and strategies aimed at improving the quality of health care provision in remote Australia, especially in the area of STIs and blood-borne viruses.



CI-H: Associate Professor David Johnson

Dr Johnson has specialty training in general practice and public health medicine and has many years’ experience working as a primary care physician with Aboriginal primary health care services, and in STI/blood-borne virus research partnerships. He is currently the Public Health Medical Officer with the Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA) and is a member of the South Australian STI and Blood-borne Virus Advisory Committee which provides advice to the SA Health department on policy related to STIs and blood-borne viruses for Aboriginal people living in SA.


CI-I: Doctor Nathan Ryder, Hunter New England Local Health District

Dr Nathan Ryder is a clinical specialist sexual health physician with a strong track record in both sexual health and HIV clinical service provision, research and policy development. He is currently Clinical Director of Sexual Health for the Hunter New England region of NSW. Dr Ryder’s main area of interest is Aboriginal and rural/remote sexual health, particularly surveillance, public health and the implementation of best practice clinical services and programs.



CI-J: Doctor Barbara Nattabi, University of Western Australia

Dr Nattabi commenced her academic career in 2010 at the University of Western Australia where she has worked closely with the ABCD National Research Partnership – the largest continuous quality improvement initiative in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care. One of Dr Nattabi’s strengths is research with rural, marginalised populations including conflict-affected populations and Indigenous Australians.


Associate Investigators


Associate Professor Handan Wand, The Kirby Institute

Associate Professor Handan Wand is a mathematically trained statistician with a PhD in Biostatistics and has contributed to over 130 peer reviewed journal articles. She provides support for most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander projects emanating from the Kirby Institute.


Associate Professor Marisa Gilles

Associate Professor Marisa Gilles is a public health physician with a Masters in Public Health and a Masters in Applied Epidemiology. She is a Fellow of The Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine and since 1998 has been managing a small cohort of HIV-positive Aboriginal people in rural and remote Australia.


Doctor Jacki Mein, Wuchopperen Health Service

Dr Mein is a sexual health physician with extensive experience working in remote areas of Australia and in particular primary health care settings including the Northern Territory, Western Australia and far north Queensland. Dr Mein is the Director Of Medical Services at Wuchopperen Health Service Ltd.


Associate Professor Darren Russell, Cairns Base Hospital

Darren Russel is the Director of Sexual Health at Cairns Base Hospital and is Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Population Health at The University of Melbourne, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, at James Cook University. He has extensive experience in mentoring Aboriginal Sexual Health Workers and employs a team to provide outreach to Cape York and Torres Strait Island remote communities.


Professor James Blanchard, University of Manitoba

Professor Blanchard is based at the University of Manitoba, Canada and holds a Canada Research Chair in Epidemiology and Global Public Health. Professor Blanchard has extensive experience in research and public health program development, focusing on approaches to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of public health programs, with an emphasis on improving the health of disadvantaged populations.


Professor Sevgi Aral, Division of STD Prevention, CDC Canada

Professor Aral is Associate Director for Science in the Division of STD Prevention with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Canada. Professor Aral’s work has focused on risk and preventative behaviours, gender differences, societal characteristics that influence STD and HIV rates, contextual issues and effects of distinct types of sexual mixing on spread of STIs. Her research has been in both domestic and international settings and her writings have included cross-cultural comparative analyses.


Doctor Rae-Lin Huang, Nganampa Health Council

Dr Rae-Lin Huang has coordinated the STI control and HIV prevention program at Nganampa Health Council in Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands for 10 years. She has a Fellowship with RACGP and is a Public Health Physician. Dr Huang has extensive experience in the design, delivery and evaluation of successful STI and blood-borne virus control programs in remote communities.


Doctor Susan Chatwood, Institute for Circumpolar Health Research, Canada

Dr Chatwood is the Executive and Scientific Director of the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada; Past President of the Canadian Society for Circumpolar Health; and Vice-President of the International Network for Circumpolar Health Research. She is an Assistant Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and her research interests include STIs and blood-borne viruses and the health and wellbeing of adolescents.


Doctor Belinda Hengel, Postdoctoral Fellow, The Kirby Institute, UNSW

Dr Hengel was awarded a Masters of Public Health in 2011 and completed a PhD in epidemiology in 2016. She previously worked as a sexual health nurse. Dr Hengel’s research focuses on improving the sexual health of Aboriginal people, particularly those living in remote areas of Australia. She has worked across multiple NHMRC funded studies which have had led to improvements in the delivery of STI care in Aboriginal communities and increased the understanding of the burden of STIs across regions where data was previously lacking.


Katy Crawford, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service

Katy Crawford is a Registered Nurse and holds a Masters in Public Health. Her clinical and public health experience has been based in rural and remote WA and QLD. She is the current Regional Sexual Health Facilitator at Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service supporting the integration of STI management into comprehensive primary health care delivery.

Project Coordination and Support


Dr Clare Bradley, CRE-ASH Study Coordinator, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)

Dr Bradley is the Study Coordinator for the CRE-ASH. Clare holds a BA (Hons, Psychology) and a PhD (Environmental Biology), both from the University of Adelaide. Clare joins the CRE after 14 years as an epidemiologist at Flinders University; first with the Research Centre for Injury Studies (2003–2014) then with the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre (2014–2016). Dr Bradley continues to hold academic status with Flinders’ School of Medicine. Her main areas of research interest and expertise are health surveillance, the social determinants of health, healthy ageing, epidemiological data development and the analysis of linked data.


Dr Simon Gunn, Research Manager, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)

Dr Gunn has over 14 years’ experience in research management, working exclusively in health and medical research in both academic and management roles in tertiary education institutions (Flinders University and University of South Australia), and hospital environments (Repatriation General Hospital and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital). In his current role at SAHMRI, Simon works with A/Prof James Ward and a range of external stakeholders to provide operational and research support to the Infectious Diseases Research Aboriginal Health program to ensure it achieves its strategic objectives.