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Personal profile


Professor Thrift is Head of Epidemiology and Prevention Division, Stroke and Ageing Research (STAR) in the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health. Shes an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow, a member of the NHMRC Research Committee, is a past President of the Stroke Society of Australasia, and a Director of the National Stroke Foundation.

Professor Thrift gained her PhD in epidemiology in the study of risk factors for intracerebral haemorrhage from Monash University in 1995. Post-PhD she is internationally renowned for her research expertise in the epidemiology of stroke. She is the Principal Investigator and has led and coordinated the highly successful North East Melbourne Stroke Incidence Study since its development in 1995. This study has resulted in more than 40 publications in high quality journals, and three major data pooling collaborations to date. She has published widely on the epidemiology of cerebrovascular disease and dementia and has invaluable expertise in cohort epidemiology, conducting large-scale longitudinal cohort studies achieving high response in follow-up.

Professor Thrift is currently leading an innovative vascular disease research program in impoverished rural communities in southern India. Simply setting up these studies was a major effort, requiring the collaboration with national and international leaders in stroke, hypertension, dementia, and rural medicine. Professor Thrift has published initial pilot work conducted in southern India, and is currently undertaking an NHMRC funded case-control study of hypertension and a study aimed at overcoming the barriers to hypertension control (NHMRC funded through the Global Alliance for Chronic Disease). Her team in India includes medical practitioners, project managers, and several nurses, laboratory technicians and administrative staff. There are many obstacles in undertaking research in such a remote area, for example the collection and storage of blood. The organisation and conduct of these studies, although challenging, will be extremely productive for global health.

Research Grants

Continuous research funding since 1995 totalling $17 million ($6 million as responsible investigator). These grants include NHMRC post-doc training, career and senior research fellowships, NHMRC and VicHealth project grants, and 3 National Heart Foundation grants.

Public Health Practice and Policy Initiative

Professor Thrift has provided input to health care practice and policy through:

  1. Close links with the National Stroke Foundation (NSF). As an inaugural co-chair (2008-2011) of the Australian Stroke Coalition, a joint initiative between the National Stroke Foundation and the Stroke Society of Australasia, she has had input to the translation of research findings. She has further input into translation as a current Director of the National Stroke Foundation.
  2. As a committee member on the National Heart, Stroke, and Vascular Health Data Working Group, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare she has Contributed to reports and analyses conducted by the Cardiovascular Diseases Unit of this institute. This has resulted in specific analyses of stroke-specific national data. Many of these analyses have been included in the reports from the institute. These reports are available free of charge through the institute web site, and are therefore freely available to anyone with an interest in vascular diseases at a population level.

Memberships of Committees

National Cardiovascular Monitoring System Advisory Committee, AIHW (2003-); Australasian Epidemiological Association, Treasurer (2001-2004); Public Health Research Advisory Group (1997-1999; 2001-2003); Stroke Society of Australasia (Council Member 1998-2000, Secretary 2001-2004, Vice-President 2004-2007, President 2007-2010, Immediate Past President 2010-2011); Public Health Association of Australia, Victorian Branch Treasurer (1995-1998); National Health and Medical Research Council Research Committee (2010-2015); Stroke Foundation, Board member (2014-); Institute for Physical Activity & Nutrition, Board member (2017-).

Memberships of Conference Organising Committees

Public Health Association of Australia, 29th Annual Conference, 1997; Australasian Epidemiological Association, 1997; High Blood Pressure Research Council of Australia (Stroke Workshop), Melbourne, 1999; World Health Organisation and International Society of Hypertension Stroke Meeting (Secretary), Melbourne, 2002; Stroke Society of Australasia (2002, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2011); Asia Pacific Conference Against Stroke (2009); International Conference on Neurology and Epidemiology (2009 and Conference President 2015); American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, Stroke Council’s International Stroke Conference Program Committee (2017-2020). 

Editorial Board Memberships

International Journal of Stroke (2005-); Neuroepidemiology (2007-); Stroke (2009-); Section Co-editor of Health Policy/Outcomes section of Stroke (2010-2018); Journal of Stroke Medicine (2018-). 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Education/Academic qualification

Postgraduate Diploma in Biostatistics, University of Melbourne


Certificate of Health Economics , MONASH UNIVERSITY






Research area keywords

  • Epidemiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Disadvantaged populations
  • Poverty
  • Hypertension
  • Preventive Health
  • Implementation
  • Disease Management
  • Rural and Remote Health
  • Health Services
  • Stroke


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