Dr. Stephanie Topp has a background in global public health, political and social sciences.  She is Professor of Global Health and Development in Discipline of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at James Cook University, and Honorary Principal Research Fellow at the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne. Dr.Topp’s academic training reflects transdisciplinary interests spanning global health (PhD, University of Melbourne, 2014), development studies (MPhil, Oxford University, 2006) public health (MIPH, University of Sydney, 2004) and modern history (BA(Hons), University of Sydney, 2002).  Prior to joining JCU, she spent eight years living and working in Zambia, initially in public health policy and planning role with an international non-government organisation and subsequently as a research fellow.  Dr. Topp joined JCU in 2015 as Senior Lecturer and was promoted to Professor on 1 January 2024.  

Dr. Topp’s research addresses political and power struggles that underpin inequitable access to health care and health outcomes. As a global public health, policy and systems researcher and current NHMRC fellow, she draws on theories and methodologies from the social sciences to identify the system-strengthening potential of adjustments to public health policy, governance and health workforce management (particularly in low-resource, remote and correctional settings) as well as the links between cultural health and wellbeing. Dr. Topp’s research has been widely cited in national and international policy, technical guidance and evidence synthesis reports from the World Health Organization, European Union, USAID, and governments in Australia and Finland.  Over the past five years Dr. Topp been chief investigator for competitive grants totalling $3.8 million including NHMRC, MRFF, CRC-NA and Canada's CIHR.  Also in the past five years, she has published 70 (career total 117) scholarly articles in field-leading journals including Lancet Global Health, BMJ Global Health and Social Science and Medicine, and presented at national and international conferences. Her success in communicating her research was recognised with a QLD Young Tall Poppy Award in 2019.

Dr. Topp has an exemplary teaching record having received Dean’s Awards for Teaching (2020) and Subject Excellence (2020) and a prestigious national Teaching Excellence Award from the Council of Academic Public Health Institutions of Australasia in 2022.  This award was one of only three annual awards commending high quality teaching and learning initiatives and inspirational influence in the field of public health.  At JCU Dr. Topp serves as co-course coordinator for the recently established Masters of Public Health – Masters of Development Studies, and from 2019-2023 was Post Graduate Academic Advisor for a suite of 10 public health course offerings.  Instrumental to her success in leading course and subject design is a national and international reputation for scholarship in teaching. She has written chapters in a range of influential texts including the WHO-published Health Policy and Systems Research Reader on Human Resources for Health; Maxcy-Rosenau-Last Public Health and Preventive Medicine; and The Routledge Handbook of Global Development.  She has guided and mentored four PhDs to timely completion, with a further five under supervision. Her leadership in mentoring and building research capacity was recognized as a featured guest on the WHO TDR's popular Global Health Matters Podcast in November 2022 discussing "Global Health Career Paths: Learn, Mentor, Practice, Repeat", an episode downloaded more than 2700 times on podcast platforms and YouTube.

Dr. Topp’s international reputation is demonstrated in senior leadership roles including as a member of the Board of Directors for Health Systems Global (2020-2024); and appointed Chair of the Programme Working Group for the 8th Global Symposium for Health Systems Research to be held in Nagasaki in 2024.  She is on the Editorial Board of academic journals BMJ Global Health and Social Science & Medicine: Health Systems, and regularly serves as expert reviewer for national and international grant agencies including NHMRC, South Africa’s Medical Research Council (MRC), Wellcome Trust, and UK National Institutes for Health Research (NIHR). 

ENGAGEMENT (Media, Blogs, Webinars)

  • TM5502: Tropical Public Health (Level 5; TSV)
  • TM5552: Global Health and Development (Level 5; TSV)
  • TM5578: Emerging Public Health Threats: Navigating Systems and Responses (Level 5; TSV)
  • TM5600: Introduction to One Health (Level 5; TSV)
  • Programme Chair: Global Health Systems Research Symposium 2024 (HSR2024)
  • Board of Directors: Health Systems Global (2020 - 2024)
  • Editorial Board: Social Science & Medicine Health Systems (2023-ongoing)
  • Associate Editor, Health Systems: BMJ Global Health (2016-ongoing)
  • Member: WHO Strategic and Technical Advisory Group of Experts (STAGE) for maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition (MNCAHN)
  • Expert Reviewer: UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (2014-ongoing)
  • External Advisory Group: Optimizing Momentum Toward Sustainable Epidemic Control program, ICAP at Columbia (2017-2020)
  • Co-Chair: Social Sciences Thematic Working Group, Health Systems Global (2017-2021)
  • Expert Panel: STOP TB Key & Vulnerable Population Guides / and Guides to Effective Case Finding (2015-2018)
  • Publication Mentor (2018): WHO Alliance for Health Systems and Policy Research - Women in Publication mentorship scheme
  • Course Coordinator: Masters Public Health - Masters Global Development, MPH-MGD (2022-ongoing)
  • Post Graduate Academic Advisor: Public Health and Tropical Medicine (2019-ongoing)
  • 2020 to 2022 - Consultant, World Health Organization (Townsville / Geneva)
  • 2019 - Associate Professor, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2017 to 2019 - Consultant, University of North Carolina (UNC) (Townsville / Malawi)
  • 2015 to 2018 - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2017 - Consultant, World Health Organisation (Townsville / Myanmar)
  • 2012 to 2015 - Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Alabama (Birmingham) (Zambia)
  • 2008 to 2010 - Program Manager, Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia (Zambia)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2022 - Individual Teaching Excellence Award, Council of Academic Public Health Institutions of Australasia (CAPHIA)
  • 2020 - Deans Awards for Teaching Excellence, and Subject Excellence, for Global Health and Development, College of Public Health Medical and Vet Sciences, James Cook University
  • 2020 - Overall Discipline Winner, Award for Research Excellence, Public Health and Tropical Medicine
  • 2019 - QLD Young Tall Poppy Award
  • 2019 - Overall College Winner, Early Career Researcher Excellence, College of Public Health Medical and Vet Sciences, James Cook University
  • 2018 - (Primary Investigator) JCU Rising Star Award - $15,000
  • 2018 - (Co-Investigator) Learning & Teaching Grant - $9814 - Embedding Career Development in Post Graduate Public Health
  • 2017 - (Co-Investigator) Learning & Teaching Grant - $9500 - Mapping the Post Graduate Journey
  • 2017 - (Lead) Research Consultancy - USD50,000 - WHO Myanmar, Development of Health Workforce Strategy 2018-2021
  • 2017 - (Co-Investigator) Learning & Teaching Grant - $2650 - External Peer Review of Teaching, TM5502 Tropical Public Health
  • 2017 - (Co-Investigator) Learning & Teaching Grant - $9857 - Transforming Assessment Practices In Public Health
  • 2004 to 2006 - NSW Rhodes Scholar
  • 2020 to 2025 - NHMRC Investigator Award (EL) ($561,000)
  • 2019 - Hot North Career Development Fellowship ($90,000)
  • 2013 - Emerging Voices for Global Health, Institute for Tropical Medicine (ITM), Antwerp.
  • 2011 to 2012 - Doctoral Fellowship, Population Council Zambia
  • 2007 to 2008 - HIVCorps Fellow, Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia
  • 2012 to 2020 - Health Systems Global
  • 2008 to 2020 - International AIDS Society

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
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 122+ research outputs authored by Prof Stephanie Topp from 2010 onwards.

Current Funding

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

CRC for Developing Northern Australia - Grant

Progressing health equity through strengthening the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workforce

Indicative Funding
$2,352,530 over 3 years (administered by Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre Limited)
This collaborative TAAHC project aims to build on QH led Health Equity Strategies and plans within each of the partner HHSs in nQ through co-designed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce plans to strengthen recruitment, retention and career pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff (clinical and non-clinical) within HHSs, and also strengthening the capacity of non-Indigenous staff to work respectfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues.
Sarah Larkins, Stephanie Topp, Catrina Felton-Busch, Shaun Solomon and Bonnie Eklom (College of Medicine & Dentistry, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, JCU Murtupuni Centre for Rural & Remote Health and Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre Limited)
Health workforce; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; Capacity strengthening; Health equity; First Nations health workforce; Rural, regional and remote

CRC for Developing Northern Australia Scheme - Projects

Integrating Health Care Planning for Health and Prosperity in North Queensland.

Indicative Funding
$750,000 over 3 years, in partnership with Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre Limited ($330,000)
Improving health and prosperity across Northern Australia is constrained by planning silos and limited creativity in models-of-care. North Queensland (NQ) has a unique opportunity to unite health industry partners and improve efficiencies and effectiveness in service delivery. Building on findings from our Health Situational Analysis we will co-create integrated systems for mapping population need, health services and workforce, prioritising areas for action. This work brings together key public and private health system partners across North Queensland, including Hospital and Health Services, Primary Health Networks and the Community Controlled Health Sector to take a regional approach to strengthening the integration of care and place-based planning of workforce and service implementation in North Queensland. The organizational recognition of the Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre (TAAHC) streamlines these relationships. We will work with all TAAHC partners, plus QAIHC and WQPHN to take a regional approach in NQ, whilst working with expert technical reference group members from NT and WA to ensure shared learning across the north. Then, working closely with service providers and consumers we will facilitate place-based planning and design, implement and evaluate new models-of-care that will optimise health and economic outcomes, consumer and workforce satisfaction.
Sarah Larkins, Stephanie Topp, Alex Edelman, Nishila Moodley, Edward Strivens and Maxine Whittaker (College of Medicine & Dentistry, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service)
place -based planning; Rural Health Services; Health Workforce; integrated care; rural and remote; Health Equity

National Health & Medical Research Council - Investigator Grants

Health system governance and tuberculosis control in the Torres Strait: an institutional analysis

Indicative Funding
$561,800 over 5 years
Using institutional analysis, the project will address a gap in knowledge regarding the nature and robustness of health system governance for tuberculosis (TB) control in the Torres Strait Protected Zone. The Torres Strait Protected Zone is an area of strategic public health importance due to high rates of TB and multi-drug resistant TB and proximity to Papua New Guinea where the disease is endemic. The project will identify and characterise the role(s) of different stakeholders and evaluate the formal and informal rules that drive TB-related decisions in this unique cross-border region. In doing so, it will deliver critical insights into the resilience and adaptive capacity of health system responses to TB, and produce recommendations to strengthen governance capabilities to counter existing and emerging communicable disease threats.
Stephanie Topp (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)

Canadian Institutes of Health Research - Global Health: Planning and Dissemination Grant

The impact of emergency care workforce policy on health equity: a comparative analysis

Indicative Funding
$5,124 over 1 year
The purpose of this proposal is to develop a cross-country comparative research study on the linkages between emergency care workforce policy and health equity. The activities sponsored by this grant will facilitate the development of a comparative study to be submitted to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on multi-stakeholder perspectives on the impact of emergency care workforce policy on health equity in Canada, Australia, Rwanda, and South Africa. This proposal uniquely brings together a team with complimentary skills in health policy and systems research, emergency medicine and epidemiology, perspectives that are each essential to unpacking emergency care workforce policy.
Veena Sriram, Riyad Abu-Laban, Simon Pulfrey, Stephanie Topp, Heike Geduld and Menelas Nkeshimana (The University of British Columbia, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, University of Cape Town and University Teaching Hospital Rwanda)
Health Workforce; Health Policy; Emergency Care; Health Equity

Tropical Australian Academic Health Centre Limited - Contract Research

North Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sexually Transmissable Infections Action Plan 2016-2021 - Synthesis of Key Learnings.

Indicative Funding
$75,074 over 1 year
The project will undertake a synthesis of key learnings of the North Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Sexually Transmissible Infections (STIs) Action Plan 2016-2021and related initiatives and available evidence base to inform the development, through place-based, co-design processes, of sustainable sexual health models to manage the risk of STIs to First Nations people in Northern Queensland. The project will also undertake an epidemiological analysis of STIs in Northern Queensland and develop an an evaluation framework that can be applied to the development, implementation and evaluation of sustainable sexual health models to manage the risk of STIs to First Nations people in Northern Queensland.
Stephanie Topp (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health; Resilience; Culture; Wellbeing

Menzies School of Health Research - HOT NORTH - Project Grant

Who?s steering the ship? A case comparison of the governance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers across Northern Australia

Indicative Funding
$36,500 over 2 years
Using a qualitative cross-case design, this project will expand on current Queensland-based work to address this gap in knowledge by exploring the governance arrangements that shape the work practices of A&TSIHW across both Queensland and the Northern Territory. Continuing the first systematic work relating to A&TSIHW governance carried out in Queensland as part of a 2019 with Hot North support, this project will: a) extend the project scope and characterize both the formal and informal rules and norms that influence A&TSIHW roles in the Top End Health Service of the NT, and b) through cross-case analysis of QLD and NT data, develop new insights into the influence of different geographic, social and administrative structures on A&TSIHW performance. The outcomes are expected to support efforts to strengthen Indigenous health workforce planning across Northern Australia.
Stephanie Topp in collaboration with Josslyn Tully and Sean Taylor (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Torres & Cape Hospital & Health Service and Top End Health Service)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander He; Health Systems; Remote and Rural; Health Workforce; Governance; Northern Australia

The Global Fund - Contract Research

Allocative efficiency modelling to support National TB programs

Indicative Funding
$191,260 over 4 years
Tuberculosis (TB) has now been unequivocally identified as the world's leading infectious killer, with global control failing to make significant inroads into the huge burden of disease. TB in Australia is driven by this huge global burden, with around 60% of all TB cases occurring in our region and nearly 90% of Australia's cases occurring in the overseas born. Our group has an established track record of undertaking country-level simulations to better understand TB epidemiology and predict the effectiveness of programmatic interventions in the local context. These applications are linked to a program of theoretical and epidemiological research to improve understanding of TB transmission and strengthen model underpinnings. Recently, we have been working to develop our model into a flexible and robust platform by using principles of software engineering, including object-oriented and modular programming. This approach allows rapid adaptation of our tool ("AuTuMN") to new objectives without the need to modify many of the constituent modules. In this project, we will extend the AuTuMN structures to undertake country implementations in up to six additional countries, funded by The Global Fund Against AIDS, Malaria and tuberculosis (TGF). These countries are: Myanmar Timor L'este The Kingdom of Bhutan Cambodia The Philippines Sri Lanka This RFAF is an indicative budget, as airfares and other direct costs will only be paid upon submission of receipts. Additionally, TGF produces contracts in US dollar amounts so amounts below are subject to change. Which of the above countries elect to undertake this work has not yet been determineJCU will administer the grant but University of Melbourne and Monash University will send invoices for work undertaken as part of this grant.
Emma McBryde, R Ragonnet, Nhut Tan Doan, James Trauer and Stephanie Topp in collaboration with Ross McLeod, Damon Eisen, Jennifer Ho, Tanya Diefenbach-Elstob, Kathryn Snow and Bosco Ho (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, University of Melbourne, Monash University, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, College of Medicine & Dentistry and Queensland Health)
Tuberculosis; mathematical modelling; international health; disease simulation

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 Engagement and Participation of Faith based Organizations in the Health System Reforms in Soloman Islands (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Evaluating the impact of hospital pharmacists on a health equity agenda in a regional Australian setting - more than just the medicines. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • An Investigation on the Impacts of Social Exclusion on the Health and Well-being of Niger Delta Communities in Nigeria (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Variance in Policy Adoption in the Pacific: The case for Context-Specific NCD Prevention and Control Measures and the role of the NCD Best Buys (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Strengthening community empowerment approaches to Aedes species mosquito management in a high-income country setting: comparative case studies within Queensland, Australia. (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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