Maxine A. Whittaker, MBBS,  MPH , PhD, FAFPHM is the Dean of the College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences at James Cook University (Feb 2016), She is also co-Director of the World Health Organisation's Collaborating Centre for Vector Borne Diseases and Neglected Tropical Diseases. In 2017 she was awarded the Royal Australasian College of Physicians International Medal. In recognition of outstanding service in developing countries. 

She was previously (2008-2016) Professor of International and Tropical  Health and Co-Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Health Information Systems, Director of the Health Information Systems Knowledge Hub, Program Director of the Australian Initiative on Control and Elimination of Malaria/Pacific Malaria Initiative Support Centre and co-Secretariat of the Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network.

Maxine Whittaker has lived and worked in Bangladesh, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Papua New Guniea and worked extensively in China, Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tanzania, Thailand , Tonga, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.  She has extensive experience in project and programme design in health and development, especially in infectious diseases, One Health, and sexual and reproductive health and gender analysis, and using rapid formative research and anthropological methods and for a variety of international development partner and NGO organizations. She has developed local research teams in social sciences methods in Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Northern Queensland remote communities, and Vanuatu, and participated in the development of training materials and activities to support this capacity development.

From 2006-2009 she was the Senior Technical Health Adviser to the National Department of Health in Papua New Guinea where she was involved in health and development policy work, technical programme support especially in disease control and family health services, and a member of several national committees to advise the Ministry of Health (Child health, Maternal Health Ministerial Taskforce, family planning, Tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/STIs).

Maxine Whittaker research interests are in fields of operational and health services research and medical anthropology, with a primary focus on sexual and reproductive health, health seeking behaviour and quality of care. She has a special interest in the issue of scaling-up pilot programmes into policy and practice, and as a founding member of Expandnet has contributed to a body of work published by WHO on this topic.She is presently leading the Malaria Elimination Research Agenda work on social sciences and co-chairing the Health Systems panel (http://www.malariaeradication.org/malera-refresh) and is recognized as one of the leaders in re-invigorating social sciences and community participation  in the malaria research agenda. 

Since 2009 has been CI on research and project grants in the Asia Pacific region worth more than $A80 million including several from DFAT published more than 70 peer reviewed publications, and several project documents for development partners and countries, policy briefings, briefing papers, book chapters and commissioned papers.

She is the Chair of the Board of Trustees and member of the Scientific Advisory Group of icddr,b which brings together a range of global scientific leaders to: build capacity in the training and mentorship of young scientists on their career pathways; increase the involvement of international scientists on site at icddr,b; increase partnership opportunities with other world-class organisations; increase icddr,b’s ability to undertake research outside of Bangladesh, and align icddr,b’s research focus with our research priorities. 

Maxine is the Co- Chair of the WHO Research Project Review Panel (RP2) of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research including the WHO Special Programme Of Research, Development And Research Training In Human Reproduction. IN 2018 she was invited to be a member of the 10 member Technical Reference Group of the Indo-Pacific Centre for Health Secuitry (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia).. 

She is an active member of the Public Health Association of Australia especially the special interest groups of international health, One Health and women’s health.

Other professional activities:

  • Section Editor for Health Systems and Social Science of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
  • Associate Editor for Malaria Journal and of Public Health Action
  • Senior Editor for Biomedicine Hub
  • Co-chair of the Health systems strengthening panel for the malERA refresh (http://www.malariaeradication.org/malera-refresh): Malaria Eradication Scientific Alliance malERA Refresh updates the malaria eradication research and development agenda ( malERA) first published in 2011. The overarching goal is to update the multi-disciplinary R&D agenda for malaria elimination and eradication, which can be acted upon by the malaria community, scientific community, and funders to accelerate progress.
  • member of the RBM Country and Regional Support Partners Committee
  • Member of the Australian Anthropological Society

Media Events



  • TM5501: Tropical Medicine (Level 5; TSV)
  • TM5529: Applied Health Economics (Level 5; TSV)
  • Global health advocacy
  • Co-Chair WHO Research panel for Reproductive program of the Human reproduction program (HRP)
  • Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network
  • capacity building and development
  • Global health policy
  • Medical anthropology
  • Malaria and other infectious diseases
  • One Health
  • Health systems research
  • Operational and implementation research
  • global public health
  • health systems
  • One Health
  • 2009 to 2015 - Professor, University of Queensland School of Public Health (Brisbane, Australia)
  • 2009 to 2014 - Director, Australian Centre for International and Tropical Health (Brisbane, Australia)
  • 1994 to 2001 - Senior Lecturer/Lecturer, University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia)
  • 1991 to 1992 - Visiting Fellow, Child Survival Project, Department of Demography and National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, (Canberra)
  • 1989 to 1990 - Operations Research Scientist,, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
  • 1986 to 1988 - Resident Associate,, The Population Council, (Lusaka, Zambia)
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2017 - Royal College of Physicians International Medal
  • 1985 - • 1985 Life Member International Federation of Medical Students Association (IFMSA)
  • 1984 - Honorary Life Member, Australian Medical Students Association
  • 2001 - Dr Jerusha Jhirad Oration Award. Presented at the Silver Jubilee Conference of Medical Women International Association (MWIA)
  • 1998 - University of Queensland Short Fellowship

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 67+ research outputs authored by Prof Maxine Whittaker from 2007 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Anglo American Exploration (Australia) Pty Ltd - Contract Research

Health SDG targets (global mining town)

Indicative Funding
$89,621 (administered by London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine)
The overall aim is to design interventions to support host communities the Sustainable development goal health outcome targets by 2030. The objectives are to: i) conduct a baseline assessment of existing data to estimate progress towards the health/wellbeing targets in the host countries (Peru, Australia, Canada, Chile and Southern Africa), ii) conduct baseline assessment in the host communities in relation to the SDG health and wellbeing targets, iii) design , cost and develop implementation plans for follow-on funding tailored interventions based on best practice evidence, to address the priority targets, iv) develop monitoring and evaluation frameworks to track progress
Maxine Whittaker, Mitzy Gafos, Brian Rice, Ana Maria Buller, Meghna Ranganathan, Stefania Dringus, Renay Werner, Cesar Bazam, Ximena Ceo and Miguel Fontes in collaboration with Michael Jana, Lebohang Letsela, Ralelani Daswa, Rafael Miranda, Jhonny Acevedo and Rodrigo Crivelaro (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Research for Trining and Development, Innovation for Development, Universidad de Chile, John Snow Inc. and Soul City Institute for Social Justice)
Sustainable Development Goals; Health; Mining communities; Disease Control

CRC for Developing Northern Australia Scheme - Contract Research

Northern Australia Health Service Delivery Situation Analysis

Indicative Funding
This project will identify key challenges and opportunities facing the northern Australian health service delivery sector and explore potential developmental scenarios and/or identify the most strategic research projects and development priorities for further investment. This will include but not be limited to infrastructure, clinical issues, policy, new models of care, investment, knowledge, training and human capital gaps and the research or alternative solutions to address them. This report will provide recommendations in all key areas identified to provide a better environment for growth and development on the northern Australian health service delivery sector.
Maxine Whittaker in collaboration with Edward Strivens, Robyn Aitken, David Atkinson, Sarah Larkins and Stephanie Topp (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Cairns & Hinterland Health Service District, Top End Health Service, Rural Clinical School of Western Australia and College of Medicine & Dentistry)
Northern Australia health sector; Health Economics; Health Policy; Health System evaluation

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - Tropical Disease Research Regional Collaboration Initiative

Tropical partnerships to strengthen health systems responses to infectious diseases threats

Indicative Funding
$2,000,000 over 2 years
The Asia Pacific Region is facing frequent threats from emerging and existing infectious diseases. The capacity to mount a timely effective response is compromised in poorly functioning health systems seen in parts of the region. The resulting vulnerability affects the whole region, including Australia. Strengthening capacity to prepare and respond to these threats is thus a shared responsibility. This proposal aims to tackle the problem through collaboration with institutions, researchers and policy makers across the region, building on long held partnerships.
Emma McBryde, Sarah Larkins, Archie Clements, Barend (Ben) Marais, Peter Siba, Maxine Whittaker, Tom Burkot, David MacLaren, George Milne and Richard Speare (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Medicine & Dentistry, Australian National University, The University of Sydney, Institute of Medical Research (PNG), College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and The University of Western Australia)
Health system strengthening; Infectious Diseases; Epidemiology; Disease Surveillance

Australian Research Council - Special Research Initiatives Scheme

Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine

Indicative Funding
$42,000,000 over 4 years
AITHM intends to build Australian research capacity in tropical health and biomedical sciences, to improve national capacity to identify risks to health security and biosecurity from re-emerging infectious diseases prevalent in tropical countries, and to undertake research which targets improvements in health outcomes and service delivery for regional, remote, and under-served communities in tropical Australia. This requires expansion of tropically based research facilities, the researcher skill base, and research programs.
Louis Schofield, Maxine Whittaker, Robyn McDermott and Alex Loukas (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Tropical Health and Medicine; Northern Australia

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Developing Local Models to Strengthen and Improve Capacity in Health Research in Melanesia (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Assessing primary health service capacity to prevent and control non-communicable diseases in the Kingdom of Bhutan; a healthy policy and systems analysis (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Strengthening community empowerment approaches to Aedes species mosquito management in a high-income country setting: comparative case studies within Queensland, Australia. (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Transition from Girlhood to Womanhood: Experiences of Adolescent Females in Papua New Guinea. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Mapping the actors and factors in the private fertility decision making process in Zambia (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • An investigation of the barriers to infectious disease interventions in Indigenous Australian communities (2019, PhD , Secondary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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