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Personal profile


Associate Professor Jennifer Schumann (née Pilgrim) is Head of the Drug Intelligence Unit at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and Department of Forensic Medicine, Monash University.

Jennifer has a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Pharmacology (2006) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Forensic Medicine (2011) from Monash University. She is a forensic pharmacologist and toxicologist, with over 15 years experience interpreting the involvement of alcohol and other drugs in death.

Jennifer’s research examines the harms associated with drugs in the community in order to inform Australian public health policy and practice, with a particular focus on addiction, misuse and overdose of pharmaceutical and illicit substances. She utilises her experience in Forensic Toxicology and Public Health research to draw information from numerous different clinical and post-mortem data sources, providing translational research pertinent to current Australian trends in drug use. Jennifer has published widely on prescription opioid misuse, recreational use of psychostimulants such as MDMA (ecstasy) and methylamphetamine (ice), and alcohol related assaults, such as coward’s punches.

Jennifer is a Chief Investigator on a current NHMRC funded Project Grant, Health service and medicine utilisation before suicide: optimising suicide prevention using population-based linkage of routinely collected data, in collaboration with University of Sydney (Dr Kate Chitty, Dr Rose Cairns) and University of New South Wales (Dr Andrea Schaffer). This project utilises death data linked to routinely collected health data to conduct a population analysis of healthcare utilised and medicines dispensed prior to suicide in Australia.

Jennifer is the Australian Project Leader of the “Toxicolist” project, a multi-national research venture in collaboration with the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, and the San Francisco County Medical Examiner’s Office, USA. This project will produce the world’s first international reference database for toxic concentrations of drugs which will can be accessed by death investigators and clinicians globally.

Jennifer is Forensic Lead on the Australian DEADSet (Deaths in Emergencies and Accidents DataSet) project, along with Clinical Lead Associate Professor David Caldicott (Australian National University). This project has investigated trends in drug-related harms among vulnerable populations in Australia, including children and adolescents. Jennifer also has a strong record of prior and ongoing collaboration with other clinicians throughout Australia, with ongoing projects involving a number of different Victorian hospitals and drug treatment centres.  

In 2015, Jennifer received the award for Best Published Public Health Paper by an Early Career Researcher from the Alfred Medical Research and Education Precinct (AMREP). In 2013, Jennifer was awarded a prestigious Victoria Fellowship from the State Government as well as a Fellowship from the  Australian French Association for Science and Technology. In 2012, Jennifer received both the Doctoral Thesis Excellence Award for an outstanding PhD thesis and its contribution to research and the Excellence Award for Best Paper by an Early Career Researcher from the Monash University School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine Research Degrees Committee.

In 2019, Jennifer was awarded a Travel Grant from The International Association of Forensic Toxicologists (TIAFT) to present her research findings at the annual meeting in England, UK. In 2016, TIAFT also awarded Jennifer with an Appreciation Award for her contribution as one of the conference organisers of the annual meeting held in Brisbane for over 500 delegates worldwide. In 2015, Jennifer was one of 40 women selected to be part of Monash University Women’s Advancement and mentoring program, which recognises career excellence and the ability to succeed. She was also an invited participant of the Monash Future Research Leaders program that same year. In 2019, Jennifer was awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to investigate successful opioid policy and practice in the USA and Canada.

In 2014, Jennifer was a visiting research fellow at the Karolinska Institute and National Board of Forensic Medicine, Sweden, and the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris.

Jennifer is a member of numerous professional societies. In 2019 she was elected to Secretary of the Forensic and Clinical Toxicology Association of Australasia (FACTA) and in 2016 was appointed Editor of the TIAFT Bulletin, distributed to over 2000 members globally. She is also a member of the Monash Addiction Research Centre, a collaboration of world-leading experts from Monash University and the addiction sector in order to provide solutions to the challenges of drug harm.

She is a PhD supervisor and a scientific journal reviewer for some of the top ranked international journals in substance abuse and legal medicine. She has made a sustained contribution to the Masters of Forensic Medicine degree with teaching commitments in the Elements of Forensic Toxicology subjects since 2016. She has also lectured in Forensic Toxicology for the National Institute of Forensic Science since 2018.

Jennifer’s research has stimulated public debate, engaged media and been directly responsible for changes in Australian policy and practice. Her work was instrumental in the rescheduling of codeine-containing medicines in 2018, as well as the introduction of Australian jurisdictional legislation surrounding one-punch assaults. Jennifer’s research has featured throughout the Australian media, including numerous podcasts and interviews on radio and television including ABC News, The Project, Today Tonight and Current Affair. She has also published invited editorials for The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald and The Conversation.


Current Research Projects:

  • Alcohol and other drugs in fatal and non-fatal road crashes in Victoria, Australia
  • Emerging drugs of abuse in clinical and forensic settings
  • The involvement of pharmaceutical opioids in death
  • Health service and medicine utilisation before suicide (NHMRC APP1157757)
  • "Toxicolist": a reference database for postmortem drug concentrations
  • Drug-related assaults in Australia: the cowards punch


PhD and Research Honours Completed Supervisions

  • The psychology of alcohol and other drug use in forensic cases: prevalence, contributing factors and opportunities for harm prevention (2019) – Laura Anderson (Asher Flynn, Olaf Drummer)
  • Clinical and forensic aspects of heroin-related toxicity: prevalence, contributors and opportunities for prevention (2018) – Nathan Stam (Dimitri Gerostamoulos, Karen Smith, Olaf Drummer)
  • Intentional deaths from suicide and resident-to-resident aggression among nursing home residents in Australia (2018) – Briony Murphy (Lyndal Bugeja, Joseph Ibrahim)
  • Family violence in Victoria (2017) – Laura Zark (Angela Williams)
  • A review on global drug policy: what should Australia do? (2017) – Isabella Capomolla (Dimitri Gerostmamoulos, Olaf Drummer)
  • Drug education ant he methamphetamine issue in Australia (2017) – Jake Port (Dimitri Gerostmamoulos, Olaf Drummer)
  • New psychoactive substances: identifying, monitoring and providing education for emerging drugs in Australia (2017) – Victoria Bicknell (Dimitri Gerostmamoulos, Olaf Drummer)
  • Deaths in Australia from venomous and poisonous animals (2016)– Li Yan Di (David Caldicott, Luke Rodda)
  • Poisoning deaths in Australia: an investigation of prevalence and common characteristics in cases reported to Australian Coroners (2016) - Ashley Stewart (David Caldicott, Luke Rodda)
  • Unintentional mortality associated with paracetamol, codeine and doxylamine preparations in 3 Australian states (2014)- Ria Hopkins
  • Involvement of oxycodone in sudden death (2013) – Sabrina Yafistam (Sanjeev Gaya, Olaf Drummer)

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
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Forensic Toxicology, PhD(Med), MONASH UNIVERSITY


Award Date: 19 Jul 2011

Pharmacology, BSc(Hons), MONASH UNIVERSITY


External positions

Head, Drug Intelligence Unit, Victorian Insititute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) (Victoria)

Nov 2018 → …

Research area keywords

  • Addiction
  • Drugs
  • Toxicology
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Public health
  • Overdose
  • Forensic medicine
  • Driving Behaviour
  • prescription drug
  • Illicit drugs testing
  • Intentional injury prevention


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