Latest News

New SSEAC country coordinators from Sydney Medical School

Professor Lyndal Trevena and Associate Professor Kirsty Foster will lead the Timor Leste and Vietnam Country Groups, on behalf of the Sydney South East Asia Centre (SSEAC) at the University of Sydney, for the period 2015-2016.

Lyndal and Kirsty will bring together colleagues from across the University with an interest and expertise in research, learning and student mobility in Timor Leste and Vietnam. They both hope to foster cross disciplinary projects and represent the University in country, drawing from their connections and expertise in family medicine and maternal and child health.

SSEAC hosts 10 country groups at the University of Sydney, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia and Brunei, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam. The Sydney Medical School has members registered on all of these groups, representing our strong engagement in the Asia Pacific region.

Building health capacity in Fiji

A newly refurbished centre dedicated to improving the health of women and children was today opened in Vatukarasa on Fiji’s Coral Coast by Fijian Prime Minister Rear Admiral (rtd) J.V.Bainimarama.

The centre, which will employ a doctor, pharmacist and community nurse, is an initiative of the Fijian Ministry of Health and has strong support from Fiji National University and the University of Sydney.
“The new centre will deliver high level primary healthcare to the local community and I am delighted that the University of Sydney will be part of its ongoing work,” said Kirsty Foster, Head of the University of Sydney’s Office for Global Health.

The centre’s AUD $160,000 refurbishment is part of wider vision to strengthen and support primary health services in Vatukarasa aiming to reduce deaths and illness among mothers, babies and young children in the surrounding regional community.

The stakeholders' long term vision is to develop a demonstration joint teaching facility between the Fiji National University and the University of Sydney.

This will strengthen and support primary health services in Vatukarasa, assist in developing interventions to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases, and provide an opportunity for medical students to experience primary care in a village setting.

Dr Adrian Sheen, Lecturer in General Practice at University of Sydney says: “To be able to work in such a village will be a unique opportunity and experience for both doctors and students. It is gratifying to have not only support of the community but also the local resorts. Everyone is keen to make this the best possible health facility”.

Later this year, University of Sydney medical students will be able to undertake elective placements at the centre and experience maternal and child health programs first hand.

The University of Sydney’s medical and health faculties will continue capacity building linkages with Fiji in 2015, including research and education projects in the quality use of medicines in children, simulation technologies in education, pregnancy planning, and maternal and fetal outcomes, and dental research.

Further information

Doctors and medical students interested in learning more about clinical and placement opportunities at the Vatukarasa Health Centre, should contact Dr Adrian Sheen on: +61 402 753 764 or

APRU spotlight on University of Sydney's Dr Mu Li


Dr. Mu Li is an associate professor in international public health at the Sydney School of Public Health and Director of Public Health Strategic Program, China Studies Centre, University of Sydney. She is a recipient of the Endeavour Executive Fellowship Award 2014 from the Australian Government, worked as a visiting fellow at Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing China, and Institute of Food, Nutrition and Health, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland.

A trained physician, Dr Li’s major research interests are in public health nutrition, including maternal and child nutrition, micronutrient deficiency disorders, childhood obesity prevention and public health program evaluation.

Read more about Dr Li, and other APRU (Association of Pacific Rim Universities) interest areas in the APRU Global Health Program Newsletter #5.

Practical Clinical Research Workshops in Vietnam

A team of Hoc Mai Foundation volunteers and academics from the University of Sydney conducted Practical Clinical Research Workshops in Hanoi on 30-31 October and in Ho Chi Minh City on 3-4 November 2014. The workshops formed part of the annual trip of the Hoc Mai Australia-Vietnam Medical Foundation to Vietnam to improve practical clinical research capacity across Vietnam.

This year’s workshops built on existing research projects of Vietnamese doctors and medical practitioners from Hanoi Medical University and Hung Vuong Hospital (HCMC). New groups of doctors from Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Da Nang Hospital Children and Women, Bach Mai Hospital, and University of Medicine and Pharmacy (HCMC) also joined the workshops. Hoc Mai Patron, The Honourable Dame Professor Marie Bashir also conducted workshops for groups of young psychiatrists from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

The workshops are aimed at building the capacity of Vietnamese medical professionals towards building research protocols and conducting ethical and meaningful research through mentorship from staff from the University. Four of the research projects in 2014 were awarded research grants of AU$2000 each to fund the conduct of their research. The funded research groups shared their research experience with the new groups and presented the developments in their projects, identifying barriers and challenges, which needed to be addressed.

Practical Clinical Research Team from the University included The Hon Dame Prof Marie Bashir, Prof Jonathan Morris, Assoc Prof Kirsty Foster, Assoc Prof Christine RobertsAssoc Prof Catherine Hawke, Dr Christopher Gordon, Dr Diana Benn, Dr Christine Smyth, Dr Manuela Ferreira and Ms Sarah Winter.

Participants of the 2014 Practical Clinical Research Workshop in Hanoi with tutors and mentors from the University of Sydney and Hoc Mai Foundation.

Research group from Bach Mai Hospital, Hanoi presenting their research topic.

Research group from Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy with Assoc Prof Kirsty Foster and Prof Jonathan Morris.

Research team from Da Nang Hospital for Women and Children with Ms Sarah Winters (3rd from right) and Assoc Prof Christine Roberts (back centre).

Professor Marie Bashir and a group of young psychiatrists in HCMC.

Participants of the 2014 Practical Clinical Research Workshop in HCMC with tutors and mentors from the University of Sydney and Hoc Mai Foundation.

Hand hygiene research group from Hung Vuong Hospital, HCMC with Dr Christopher Gordon (2nd from left) and Dr Christine Smyth (right).

Hoc Mai Annual Alumni Events in Vietnam

Annual Hoc Mai alumni events were recently held in two major cities in Vietnam – Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The event provided Hoc Mai Foundation and University of Sydney staff to get updates on the professional lives of the alumni.

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, Hugh Borrowman graciously welcomed Vietnamese alumni of the University of Sydney and Hoc Mai to the Ambassador’s residence in Hanoi on 31 October 2014. Mr Borrowman mentioned the importance of sustaining the relationship between Vietnamese and Australia towards improving the health and its long-term benefits to Viet Nam and its people.

On 3 November 2014, Australian Consul General (in Ho Chi Minh City) John McAnulty also hosted the Hoc Mai alumni event in the Consul General’s residence in HCMC. Despite the pour on the Monday, former Hoc Mai fellows and scholars turned up to meet and greet Hoc Mai Foundation and University of Sydney team.

Hoc Mai Chair Prof Bruce Robinson expressed his gratitude towards the continuous support of the Australian government through its mission in Vietnam in upholding the Hoc Mai’s philosophy of forever learning in medicine and healthcare in Vietnam.

Former Vietnamese exchange students (Medicine and Nursing) and Australia Awards Fellows were invited to join the events. A delegation from the University of Sydney and Hoc Mai Foundation who travelled to Vietnam for the annual Hoc Mai trip, including The Hon Dame Professor Marie Bashir, were also present in the events.

Australian Ambassador Hugh Borrowman with Hoc Mai Chair Professor Bruce Robinson welcomes the guests in the Hanoi event.

Consul General John McAnulty welcomed Hoc Mai alumni and guests at the HCMC event.

Hoc Mai alumni in Hanoi event with Dr Manuela Ferreira (2nd from right).

Hoc Mai Vietnamese alumni in the Hanoi function.

Hoc Mai Alumni in the Ho Chi Minh function with Prof Bruce Robinson (front).

Hoc Mai Alumni joined by Associate Professor Jennifer Fraser of Sydney Nursing School (left), Ms Audrey Blunden (centre) and Sarah Winter (2nd from right).