Robyn McDermott is Professor of Public Health Medicine at the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention James Cook University, Senior Clinical Research Fellow (Queensland),  NHMRC Practitioner Fellow and Professor of Public Health in the School of Population Health (UniSA) and the Sansom Institute for Health Research (South Australia).

Robyn previously served as Professor of Public Health Medicine at JCU in Cairns from 2002-4 and prior to that, as Medical Epidemiologist in the Cairns Tropical Public Health Unit from 1995. She has been a Research Fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research in the NT and spent many years working as a clinician and health services manager in rural and remote Australia, and in refugee health in South East Asia in the 1980’s and 90’s.

From 2000 to 2004 she served as Vice President, then President of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine and numerous advisory committees to state and commonwealth governments. Robyn has worked as a consultant for WHO, AusAID, the World Bank and State and Commonwealth governments and others, in health services and Public Health.  Her research interests are in chronic disease epidemiology, clinical quality improvement and disease prevention. She has chaired NHMRC Grant Review Panels for Projects, Fellowships and Capacity Building Grants and has had continuous NHMRC funding as lead investigator since 1998, totalling more than $12 million.

Robyn has co-ordinated and taught Masters level courses in Epidemiology and Health Economics while in the Northern Territory, and a new masters course in chronic disease and public health at James Cook University, as well as contributing to undergraduate teaching on the new JCU Medical Course.

Qualifications: MBBS University of Sydney 1978, FAFPHM The Royal Australasian College of Physicians 1990,MPH Harvard University 1993, PhD University of Sydney 2002

  • Robyn's research interests include the epidemiology of chronic disease and health transition, and how primary health care can improve outcomes in resource-poor settings. Her work on improving diabetes care systems in remote far north Queensland resulted in major changes to policy and practice, and was recognised by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as one of the “best 10” projects in 2006 More recently her focus has been the effective translation of research evidence into clinical and public health practice, with attention to systems issues including funding models, policy environment, information systems, workforce development and quality improvement in primary care settings Although coming late to the formal research world, she has earned more than $7 million in NHMRC research grant funding as lead investigator and more than $8million as co-investigator.
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives

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 113+ research outputs authored by Prof Robyn McDermott from 2002 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Can experimental hookworm infection prevent metabolic disease/Type 2 diabetes?

Indicative Funding
We will conduct a world-first clinical trial in Cairns testing the safety and efficacy of experimental hookworm infection in women at risk of getting Type 2 diabetes. For this application we will examine how worm infection alters the microbiome, a potental mechanism of how worms control metabolism.
Paul Giacomin, Robyn McDermott, Alex Loukas, John Miles and Matt Field (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
metabolism; Obesity; microbiome; Parasitic infection; Clinical trial; inflammation

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Health Care Homes In Cairns

Indicative Funding
This project examines the health care experience of adults living with chronic conditions in Cairns to inform a new model of primary health care, the `Health Care Home? model. The project has a region-specific focus, examining challenges for the implementation of the model of care within the Cairns area. As part of a wider mixed methods project, the qualitative investigation will explore which elements of the Health Care Home model are of value to patients. The results from this investigation will be used to inform a patient-centred approach to health service delivery for people living with chronic conditions in Cairns.
Mary O'Loughlin, Linton Harriss, Robyn McDermott and Jane Mills (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Massey University)
Patient experience; Chronic condition; Model of care; Patent Centred Medical Home; Health Care Home; Primary Health Care

NHMRC - Project Grant -

Building a simulation model to improve cardiovascular disease risk prediction and treatment for indigenous Australians

Indicative Funding
$235,000 over 3 years (administered by University of Melbourne)
This project will use a large linked cohort of 2800 Indigenous adults from north Queensland remote communities which looks at reasons for the excess cardiovascular risk in this group. The aim is to get better measures of risk of heart disease and premature death which can be done by primary health care services for better early detection and better management and survival.
Philip Clarke, Robyn McDermott, Kerry Arabena, Kenny Lawson, Andrew Hayen, Kerin O'Dea and Wendy Hoy (The University of Melbourne, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, University of South Australia and The University of Queensland)
Cardiovascular Diseases; Indigenous Health; Primary Health Care

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

Queensland Health - Office of Health and Medical Research - Research Fellowships

Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Care

Indicative Funding
$4,250,000 over 5 years
The Centre will work with clinical and community-level health promotion workers to improve clinical systems for the prevention and care of high risk adults and children with diabetes and other chronic disease in north Queensland rural and remote communities. The Centre will promote high calibre research in clinical epidemiology and quality improvement in prevention and care of chronic conditions.
Robyn McDermott (Division of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Chronic disease; Indigenous Health; Clinical Quality Improvement

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Culturally-based physical activity interventions in Indigenous populations

Indicative Funding
Physical inactivity is significantly higher among Indigenous populations and is a strong predictor for chronic disease which affects Indigenous people disproportionately. The aim of this study is to evaluate a culturally tailored 8 week physical activity intervention among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in rural communities. The objectives will be to measure overall levels of physical activity and step counts, metabolic markers, perceived quality of life and other health behaviours and outcomes before, immediately and 1 weeks after the intervention. As well, a cost benefit analysis will be conducted to determine if the project was 'value for money'.
Ashleigh Sushames, Klaus Gebel and Robyn McDermott (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Indigenous; Chronic Disease; Health Promotion; Health; Physical Activity

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.

  • The effect of different types of diabetes during pregnancy on pregnancy and neonatal outcomes in Far North Queensland (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Evaluation of a Pragmatic Community-Tailored Physical Activity Program with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Features of Primary Health Care Services in Remote Indigenous Communities that Contribute to Hospital Avoidance for Ambulatory Sensitive Chronic Conditions (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Analysis of Hookworm Infection-Induced Changes in the Intestinal Microbiome of People at Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Biological Endophenotypes of Prodromal Psychosis and Depression: Predictive Value for Clinical Outcomes. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Obesity in Pregnancy (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Health Care Homes in Cairns: a mixed methods study exploring the experience of adults living with chronic conditions to inform the new model of primary health care (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Older Persons Enablement and Rehabilitation for Complex Health Conditions: OPEN ARCH Study (Masters , Secondary Advisor)
  • Building a Simulation Model to Improve Cardiovascular Disease Risk Prediction and Treatment for Indigenous Australians (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Helminth infection and metabolic disease: Strongyloides stercoralis infection and type two diabetes in an Aboriginal community (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • So Like your Mum! Is the health of Mothers in Far North Queensland Reflected in the Nutrition and Growth of their Children in Early Life? (PhD , Primary 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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