Early Career Researchers

I am a senior research fellow within the NHMRC funded Wiser Healthcare Collaboration, with appointments at the University of Sydney and Bond University. I am a medically trained epidemiologist with expertise in the evaluation of tests used for screening, diagnosis and monitoring, including cancer screening and surveillance. I am leading a number of collaborative research projects relating to overdiagnosis (both primary studies and new analysis of existing datasets). I am also leading several primary studies conducted in patients with melanoma, including a pilot randomised controlled trial of surveillance methods; an observational study (questionnaire and phone interview), and a qualitative study. Other studies I am leading include methodological studies related to estimating cardiovascular risk, long term effects of interventions to prevent cardiovascular disease, and the population impact of interventions.

Katy’s University of Sydney academic profile page may be found here


Focus areas:

  • Genetic heart disease
  • Routinely collected health data

I will use multiple population-based health datasets and linked data analysis methods to quantify patterns of care for persons receiving implantable cardioverter defibrillator therapy.


Carissa’s research focusses on cardiovascular disease, primary care, behavioural science, implementation and e-health. Her NHMRC/Heart Foundation fellowship involves developing new online systems to implement general practice guidelines. This will involve linking guidelines to updated evidence summaries, audit and feedback activities and patient decision aids, with a focus on cardiovascular disease prevention. Her work uses mixed methods including:

  • Qualitative (interview, think aloud, content analysis)
  • Quantitative (systematic review, survey, experiment, pre-post piloting, RCT)

Doctors and patients can too easily fall into decision making traps that result in some people missing out on useful medications, while other people end up taking medications that they don’t need. Carissa is a behavioural scientist and her research aims to find the best ways to communicate information about health risks, so that doctors and patients can make informed decisions. Specifically, her interests include risk perception, doctor-patient communication and medical decision making, and you can find me discussing these issues on twitter (@carissa_bon).


Chris is a Research Fellow at Sydney Health Ethics. He returned to Australia after completing a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Population Health Intervention Research Centre at the University of Calgary, having previously been in veterinary practice in Australia and the UK. His research and teaching interests revolve around the ethics and politics of human interactions with nonhuman animals, and the social and cultural dimensions of public health. His research is inter-disciplinary, and draws together insights from Science and Technology Studies (STS) and social and normative theories. He is the author of numerous articles on issues ranging from animal experimentation, to diagnostic innovation and biosecurity. Current projects include studies of social justice and pet ownership, the politics of One Health, and the ethics of cancer screening.

Chris’ University of Sydney academic profile page may be found here


Rachael investigates the psychosocial impact of HPV, communication about HPV in head and neck cancer and cervical cancer contexts, cervical cancer screening, HPV vaccination.Mostly working on studies involving primary data collection, Rachael’s research has involved interviews with cancer patients and their partners, interviews with health professionals, collection of survey data and the development of information materials. Additionally, she has been involved in various systematic review and interventions including the implementation of a behavioural intervention into the NHS Breast Screening Service and surveys with the first cohort of girls to receive the HPV vaccination in the UK.


Jolyn is a postdoctoral researcher with expertise in communicating about overdiagnosis, particularly in breast cancer screening, and in the development and evaluation of decision support tools. Her training spanned cognitive and health psychology through to public health. Jolyn is interested in improving how we communicate about the issues of overdiagnosis and overtreatment to the public. Currently her main studies include a longitudinal randomised controlled trial of a decision aid about breast cancer screening, and a qualitative study exploring views about management of low-risk ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) among older women.

Jolyn’s University of Sydney academic profile page may be found here


Gemma is an epidemiologist with a track record of research into breast cancer screening and a passion for postgraduate education. Gemma’s research focuses on the benefits and harms of breast cancer screening, including overdiagnosis. Gemma’s expertise in the field, together with advanced analytical skills significantly contributed to the development of a decision aid that included information on overdiagnosis to support informed choice about breast cancer screening. Gemma completed her PhD using observational studies to quantify overdiagnosis in Australia and is a Scholarly Teaching Fellow at the Sydney School of Public Health at the University of Sydney.

Gemma’s University of Sydney academic profile page may be found here


Dr Jansen is a behavioural scientist and a Senior Research Fellow/NHMRC Early Career Fellow at the Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney.  Jesse applies psychological theory and methods to clinically significant problems with a focus on healthcare overuse in older people.

The aim of Jesse’s research is to develop and rigorously evaluate psychosocial and communication interventions to ensure that people get the benefits that come with appropriate use of test and treatments while reducing the harm of inappropriate use. She uses a mixed methods approach, including qualitative (e.g. interview, focus groups, clinician-patient interactions) and quantitative (e.g. randomised experiments, interaction analysis, randomised trials) research.

Examples of projects include appropriate prescribing in older people, diagnosis and management of DCIS in older women, decision making about contralateral prophylactic mastectomy (CPM) in low risk women, overdiagnosis in breast cancer screening and overdiagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).


Gustavo is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Musculoskeletal Health Sydney, a division of the School of Public Health, University of Sydney. His research focuses on the effectiveness of contemporary interventions for musculoskeletal disorders, such as low back pain. He is also interested in health services and translational research, currently collaborating with Sydney Health Partners, an NHMRC Advanced Health Research and Translation Centre.

Gustavo’s current research involves a large stepped-wedge cluster randomised trials evaluating the use of the NSW ACI model of care for acute low back pain in emergency departments. This trial aims to reduce unnecessary use of imaging and opioids for the management of low back pain. He is also conducting two Cochrane reviews investigating the diagnostic accuracy of ‘red flags’ to screen for serious pathologies (malignancy and vertebral fracture) in people presenting with low back pain.

Gustavo is an associate member of the ANZMUSC Clinical Trials Network, and an invited member of a guideline development committee within the European Pain Federation (EFIC).

Gustavo’s University of Sydney academic profile page may be found here


Stephanie is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Musculoskeletal Health Sydney, a division of the School of Public Health, University of Sydney. She completed her PhD at The George Institute for Global Health in which her thesis detailed various issues in the contemporary pharmacological management of spinal pain.

Stephanie’s current research investigates the overprescription of analgesic medicines in chronic pain and low back pain. Her current projects include establishing the prevalence of opioid analgesic prescription and use in people with chronic non-cancer pain and chronic low back pain, and secondly to determine the effectiveness of randomised controlled trial interventions designed to cease or reduce the prescription of opioid analgesics in chronic non-cancer pain patients.


Adrian is a postdoctoral research fellow at Musculoskeletal Health Sydney, a division of the School of Public Health, University of Sydney. He is a physiotherapist who has worked in primary care for over 10 years. His completed his doctorate at NeuRA, UNSW, which focused on how to effectively reassure patients with low back pain.

Adrian’s postdoctoral research focus is on using effective communication to improve care for low back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions. He is currently developing novel ways of reducing unnecessary diagnostic imaging for low back pain. Other interests include communicating prognostic information to people with low back pain using online risk calculators.

Adrian has expertise in patient education, randomised trials, systematic review and meta-analysis, prognostic modelling, and causal inference.


PhD Students/Research Assistants

Using a practical definition of “low value care” as care that a clinician group (such as Choosing Wisely or EVOLVE initiatives) has recommended not be used, I am developing direct measures of the use of low value care in NSW public hospitals. I create indicators based on diagnosis and procedure codes and other relevant variables in the hospital admissions data to capture use of services in patient groups where the service provides no benefit.

I completed my Master of Biostatistics through the NSW Health Biostatistical Officer Training Program in July 2011. As part of the Training Program, I completed placements in the Centre for Aboriginal Health at the Ministry of Health, the Perinatal Research Group at the Kolling Institute of Medical Research, and the Bureau of Health Information. I then worked as a contract biostatistician in the Centre for Epidemiology and Evidence at the Ministry. In April 2012 I joined the Cancer Epidemiology and Services Research Group (CESR) and the Surgical Outcomes Research Centre (SOuRCe) in the Sydney School of Public Health as a Research Officer (Biostatistics). In March 2015 I began my PhD in low value care.


Kelsey Chalmers is a PhD Candidate at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, and holds scholarships from the Capital Markets Cooperative Research Centre and the Australian Postgraduate Award. She has First Class Honours in Statistics from the University of Queensland, where she was awarded the University Medal. Previously, she worked as a research assistant in a mathematical neuroscience group at the Queensland Brain Institute. She is two years in to her PhD project at the University of Sydney, and has experience with analysis of health service utilisation in Australian data, with a particular focus on inappropriate or low-value care.

Kelsey’s PhD involves developing measurement tools for healthcare quality received by Australian patients using routinely collected data.


After undertaking honours in Psychology at the University of Sydney, Tessa started her PhD in July 2016 in the School of Public Health, under the leadership of Dr Jesse Jansen, Professor Kirsten McCaffery, Dr Jolyn Hersch and Professor Jenny Doust. Tessa is investigating the areas and pathways of overdiagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and the impact of the PCOS disease label on psychosocial outcomes and decision making.

Tessa’s research consists of a four-part mixed-methods study focusing on the impact of the PCOS label, and investigating the areas and pathways leading to overdiagnosis. PCOS disease definitions have expanded without clear evidence of benefits for the women being diagnosed, and have contributed to an increase in prevalence from traditional estimates of 4-6.6% to now affecting up to 21% of reproductive aged women.

The first two stages will consist of qualitative investigations regarding (1) the views and experiences of clinicians who diagnose and manage PCOS, and (2) the impact of the diagnosis on psychosocial wellbeing and lifestyle from the patient perspective, for women with both mild and more severe manifestations of symptoms associated with PCOS.


Michael is a research assistant under Carissa Bonner.


Brooke Nickel is a PhD candidate and psychosocial researcher with the Wiser Healthcare research collaboration at the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney. She is interested in understanding the psychosocial aspects of cancer diagnosis and treatment, with a specific area of interest in examining how different terminologies for precancerous conditions and early stage cancer affect patients’ psychological outcomes and decision making regarding treatment. Brooke’s research includes qualitative research, quantitative survey & Discrete-Choice Experiment (DCE) research and systematic reviews.


Thanya is undertaking her PhD on overdiagnosis of prostate cancer at the Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice (CREBP) at Bond University. Based on her medical and public health background, her current research focus on drivers and potential solutions to overdiagnosis and estimating the extent of overdiagnosis of prostate cancer in Australia using a novel life time risk method. She’s also a teaching fellow in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, teaching evidence-based medicine, clinical epidemiology, statistics and clinical skills.


I am working as Associate Lecturer for Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health. My research interest lies in barriers to seeking treatment and compliance with treatment for mental health disorders among adolescents, and how we might address these issues through patient communication. I am currently working on a systematic review of the quality of screening mammography decision aids for women aged 50-74 using IPDASi v3 – an international comparison.

Focus area

  • Shared decision-making
  • Decision aids/ decision-support materials


Eden is a 2nd year PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales. Her PhD involves developing a decision aid for paediatric oncology families deciding whether to enrol their child in a clinical trial. She has a background in psychology, completing her honours in 2012 at Macquarie University. She is currently working as a research assistant with Dr Jesse Jansen, focusing on older adults’ treatment decision making and preferences for medication use.

Eden is working on a project investigating older adults’ medication use, with a particular focus on perceived benefit and harm of taking each medication. Ms Robertson will also investigate older adults preferences for taking medications for prevention of cardiovascular disease when presented with information about uncertainty regarding the potential benefits and harms of these medications in their age group.


Jason Soon is a PhD candidate at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy. Jason spent most of his career as an economic consultant focused on antitrust and regulatory economics but now works for the Policy and Advocacy department of a medical college. His current research interests are:

  • the application of ‘nudge’ theory to the presentation of information in Electronic Health Records to influence clinical decision making
  • the differential impacts of more transparent pricing of selected medical tests in curbing unnecessary testing by different kinds of medical practitioners
  • quantifying the costs of false positives and overdiagnosis associated with various forms of cancer screening


Kristie’s qualitative research includes in-depth interviews with older people and clinicians, and the development and testing of a communication tool that supports shared decision making. She is currently completing her PhD at the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health.