Mark Daniel

1992 …2021

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Personal profile


Mark Daniel is Professor of Epidemiology in the Health Research Institute, University of Canberra where he leads the Spatial Epidemiology Group.  He is concurrently appointed Professorial Fellow in the Department of Medicine, St. Vincent’s Hospital, The University of Melbourne, and Senior Principal Research Fellow at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.


Mark Daniel holds a Doctorate in Health Care & Epidemiology (University of British Columbia, 1998), Master of Science (University of Manitoba, 1991) and Bachelor of Science (Simon Fraser University, 1989).  He first encountered Australia as an MRC Canada Postdoctoral Fellow, based in Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, for two years.  He then held faculty appointments in the School of Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the Department of Social & Preventive Medicine, Université de Montréal (as Canada Research Chair: Population Health).  He immigrated to Australia in 2008, joining the University of South Australia as Research S.A. Chair: Social Epidemiology and Director: Spatial Epidemiology and Evaluation Research Group.  In 2012 he became inaugural Head: School of Population Health.  Mark joined the University of Canberra in 2017.  He has authored 182 refereed articles and 21 book chapters.  He has given 106 invited presentations.  His work has been presented at 273 refereed congresses.  He has been a chief investigator (CI) on 102 grants exceeding $67.5 M, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. National Institutes of Health, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Canada Foundation for Innovation, National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia, and Australian Research Council.  His grant funding for the years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 was $5.6M, $4.7M, $5.1M, $4.7M and $4.6M, respectively (as CI-A: $576K, $566K, $505K, $451K and $312K for the same years, respectively).  He has led 30 grant-funded projects.


Mark’s emphasis is the intersection of spatial epidemiology and prevention research, particularly the prevention of non-communicable disease and understanding the biological pathways between social and physical environments and important population health outcomes and costs.  His work aims to identify the drivers and multi-sectoral levers for policy- and practice-level innovations to reduce risk factors and slow rising rates of chronic disease including obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, and cancers related to lifestyle.  At the core of his research is the geospatial modelling of area-level factors in inferential analyses of risk factors such as diet, physical activity and smoking, and biochemical/clinical outcomes as these vary over time and change in response to public health and clinical intervention.  For 18 years Mark has used GIS – geographic information systems – in spatial analyses of multi-level relationships between social and built environmental factors and chronic disease risk factors and outcomes, emphasising factors that are amenable to local action and policy.  He has also used GIS for the evaluation of field experiments, including prevention trials in general and vulnerable populations.  Most of this work aims at knowledge translation for improved population health through meaningful partnerships with stakeholders including community leaders, health professionals, and policy makers.


Mark has sustained a strong commitment to Aboriginal health throughout his career.  He has led community-based research in participatory collaborations with Aboriginal peoples in Canada and Australia, since 1994.  Articles reporting this research have contributed to understandings of: (i) the environmental contexts of cardiometabolic diseases in Aboriginal peoples; (ii) direct and indirect pathways underlying these associations, for which the explanatory mechanisms operate not simply via volitional behaviour, but through the non-volitional behaviours and social norms that define lifestyle, and psychosocial and biological responses to chronic stressors; and (iii) conceptual and methodological challenges faced in field research, and solutions for prevention science, in the rigorous evaluation of community-based and population-level intervention programs.


Research and Teaching Interests


Population health, social epidemiology; spatial epidemiology; chronic, noncommunicable and communicable disease epidemiology; disease prevention; prevention intervention planning, implementation and evaluation; evaluation research including cluster randomised trails and quasi-experimental trials in applied field settings to determine effectiveness for policy and practice.


Supervision and Mentoring


Mark has supervised to completion 17 PhD, 14 MSc (thesis) and 4 Honours students.  Former students hold faculty positions at prominent institutions including Stanford University, University of California - Los Angeles, University of Miami, Columbia University, and Université Laval.  Still others hold senior managerial positions in not-for-profit/ non-government health agencies or government epidemiology roles (Public Health Agency of Canada, and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Mark has also directed 13 Postdoctoral Fellows, and been official mentor to 4 Early Career Researchers. Currently, he supervises 5 PhD students.


Contribution to Field of Research


Mark built in Montréal a key infrastructure to support effective population health decision making, the Megaphone geographic information system (a copyrighted, registered invention).  Megaphone is now applied by public health authorities across Québec.  Analyses from Megaphone contributed to a ban on fast food and vending machines in schools.  Extensions with Canadian funders focus on interventions within schools to improve healthful eating.  Since 2006, Megaphone has been used in 36 projects with grants funding of $24.7M, yielding more than 70 publications.  Megaphone is the basis of the new national Australian Epidemiological GIS (AEGIS) that Mark’s team is developing in Canberra in an industry partnership with ESRI Australia, the world leader for GIS development.  The AEGIS platform is a 2nd generation version of the Megaphone infrastructure that incorporates advances in geospatial database construction, analytic applications, and visual representation.  An exciting extension of AEGIS is its role underpinning spatial epidemiological analyses of diabetes in partnership with the Dasman Diabetes Institute, Kuwait, via its integration with a diabetes registry.


Collaborations and Community Engagement


Mark has engaged in 46 industry, government and community initiatives in Australasia, Canada and the USA, India (International Clinical Epidemiology Network), France (Institut national de la santé et de la recherche médicale) and Kuwait (Ministry of Health and Dasman Diabetes Institute) (14 of which remain current in 2018). He has led community-based fieldwork with primary data collection in Canada, the USA, India and Australia. He has collaborated on four administrative data linkage initiatives, in Québec, South Australia, New South Wales, and the Northern Territory.


Professional Involvement


Mark serves/ has served on several notable external committees including: SA/NT Data Link, SA Obesity Prevention & Lifestyle Scientific Advisory, Freemason Foundation Centre for Men’s Health, Aboriginal Health Council of SA Puyu Wiya Advisory. He is a member of the American College of Epidemiology, International Epidemiological Association, Society for Epidemiological Research, The Obesity Society (Fellow), Society of Behavioral Medicine, American Diabetes Association, Royal Society for Public Health (Fellow) and New York Academy of Sciences. As an international leader in population health, Mark contributes to grants review for the NHMRC and ARC, Health Research Council of New Zealand and North American and European agencies. In 2017, he was Expert International Assessor for the $117M Canada 150 Research Chairs panel, in Ottawa. He contributes regularly to journal review.

External positions

Adjunct Research Professor of Epidemiology, Centre for Population Health Research, University of South Australia


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