In 2017, ISSR welcomed Professor Rosa Alati to expand the Institute's expertise in health pathways research, with a particular focus on substance use, mental health, and health outcomes. Professor Alati is an international leader in the social and lifestyle aspects of health across the life course, with specialisations in longitudinal approaches to health research, mental health and addictions. Her appointment signals the Institute’s desire to take advantage of research synergies between her research program in health pathways, the work of the Life Course Centre, and ISSR’s longitudinal research. She will work across ISSR and the School of Social Science, where she teaches courses on drug use, sexual health and disease.  This will deepen the strong connections between the Institute and the School, and enable ISSR to contribute to curriculum leadership in the sociology of health and illness.

Professor Alati’s 2017 UQ Strategic Development Fellowship, The basis for well-being along the life course: from birth cohorts to ‘big’ data, will bring together her long-standing longitudinal research and more recent work using large-scale record linkage health data to examine how early-life health conditions translate into developmental problems in later years. In addition to her numerous Australian collaborations, she is also involved with major life-course studies in her native Italy, the UK and the USA; this allows changes in health and wellbeing to be examined in different contexts. These studies include the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP), the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (UK), and the National Epidemiological Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (USA).

Professor Alati's appointment generated momentum for Associate Professor Abdullah A Mamun to join forces with health pathways and substance use researchers at ISSR. Associate Professor Mamun is a public health researcher and statistician who brings a wealth of methodological expertise and innovation to ISSR. Another principal investigator of the MUSP study, Associate Professor Abdullah Mamun has led the respiratory and cardiovascular epidemiology research into the second and third generation of the MUSP study, adding an internationally unique dimension to the study.  Recently his research has also extended into investigating health and wellbeing in low and middle-income countries, focusing on how rapid socio-economic development, family and environmental factors track from generation to generation affecting health and wellbeing into the future.

Joining Professor Alati and Associate Professor Abdullah Mamun are post-doctoral fellows Dr Kim Betts, Dr Caroline Salom and Dr Fairlie McIlwraith.  Dr Betts, a 2017 UQ Development Fellow, is an epidemiologist looking at early life exposures that change neurodevelopmental outcomes in adolescents and young adults. He has extensive experience in complex statistical methodologies for longitudinal studies and data linkage, along with expertise in child and adolescent psychiatric disordersDr Salom is an addictions researcher who has also worked in service provision.  She is keen to understand the developmental pathways of co-occurring substance and mental health disorders, and coordinates three national Drug Trends studies for Queensland.  Dr Salom is particularly interested in the social factors that contribute to chronic health conditions, and how support services can be designed to respond to these challenges. Dr McIlwraith has extensive experience of community and service based substance use research. She is currently managing a project for the Queensland Mental Health Commission which examines the consumer experience of service integration and referrals in regional and remote areas of Queensland.

The arrival of these researchers complemented ISSR’s existing strengths in drug, alcohol, crime and health research (DACHR) held by Dr Jason Ferris and Dr Renee Zahnow. Dr Ferris is a Senior Research Fellow and holds an NHMRC Fellowship. Dr Ferris undertakes significant national and international alcohol and drug research projects such as the evaluation of the Queensland government’s Tackling Alcohol Fuelled Violence policy, examination of the disruption of methamphetamine supply in Queensland and Australia and cross-country comparisons of substance use and harms. Dr Zahnow is a post-doctoral fellow whose work focuses on understanding alcohol and drug use from a criminological perspective. Her work applies longitudinal and spatial analyses to consider the influence of community, peer-group and individual level factors on crime, deviance and substance use.  Dr Zahnow has a particular interest in the use of image and performance enhancement drugs. Both Dr Ferris and Dr Zahnow are heavily involved in the ISSR’s specialist training in statistical methodologies (MFSAS). Working alongside Dr Ferris and Dr Zahnow is Stephanie Cook, a Research Assistant with social policy and criminological research experience. Ms Cook is currently supporting the QUANTEM project, an examination of alcohol-related harm occurring following policy changes in Queensland; the Global Drug Survey; and a grant for the Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Science (QAEHS) to undertake a mapping exercise for methamphetamine demand.

ISSR now also hosts six PhD students who are investigating a range of health issues with considerable social impact in Australia and overseas: 


Prof Rosa Alati
Group Leader

Assoc Prof Abdullah A Mamun
Principal Investigator

Dr Kim Betts
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Caroline Salom
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr Fairlie McIlwraith
Project Manager

Dr Jason Ferris
Senior Research Fellow

Dr Renee Zahnow
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Ms Stephanie Cook
Research Assistant

07 April 2017