Professor Alex Brown

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Professor Alex Brown


Leader, Aboriginal Health Equity Research Unit


Phone: 08 8128 4210



Bachelor of Medicine: University of Newcastle, NSW. 1996

Masters of Public Health: A comparative analysis of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in Australia and New Zealand 1984-1996: Is there evidence of widening indigenous/non-indigenous differentials? Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hadassah Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel. 1999.

PhD: Kurunpa [Spirit]: Exploring the Links between Psychosocial Stress, Depression and Heart Disease in Indigenous Men. School of Population Health, University of Queensland June 2010

FCSANZ (2006)

FRACP (hon.) 2010

Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellow 2013-2017


Professor Alex Brown is an Aboriginal medical doctor and researcher. He grew up on the south coast of New South Wales (NSW) with family connections to Nowra, Wreck Bay and Wallaga Lake on the far south coast of NSW.

Alex trained in medicine at the University of Newcastle, before working in hospitals on the central coast on NSW. He subsequently travelled overseas to complete a Master of Public Health and returned to Australia to begin work in Alice Springs, where he spent the last 13 years.

Alex first managed the local Centre for Disease Control in Alice Springs, controlling outbreaks of disease, immunisation programs and the surveillance of disease, before starting in research for the Menzies School of Health Research. In 2007 he was appointed to set up a research program in Central Australia with Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, with a focus on heart disease and diabetes in Aboriginal people. During this time, Alex commenced and completed his PhD on depression and heart disease in Aboriginal men.

Over this time, Alex has established an extensive and unique research program focused on chronic disease in vulnerable communities, with a particular focus on outlining and overcoming health disparities. He leads projects encompassing epidemiology, psychosocial determinants of chronic disease, mixed methods health services research in Aboriginal primary care and hospital settings, and randomised controlled trials of pharmacological and non-pharmacological chronic disease interventions.

Alex has been involved in policy since he commenced as a doctor. He has been heavily involved in engaging government and lead agencies in setting the agenda in Aboriginal cardiovascular disease management and control and chronic disease policy more broadly. He sits on a range of national committees, including the Heart Foundation, chairs the Cardiac Society Indigenous Cardiovascular Council and was a member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council (2009-2012).

In July 2012, Alex joined SAHMRI to lead Aboriginal health research.

In November 2012, Alex was awarded the prestigious Viertel Senior Medical Research Fellowship to further his research into the impacts of psychosocial determinants on cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal communities.

Selected Publications

Brown A, Carrington MJ, McGrady M, Lee G, Zeitz C, Krum H, et al. Cardiometabolic risk and disease in Indigenous Australians: The heart of the heart study. Int J Cardiol. 2013 Dec 22. PubMed PMID: 24388543. Epub 2014/01/07. Eng.

Brown A, Mentha R, Howard M, Rowley K, Reilly R, O’Dea K. Psychosocial Stress and Depression in Central Australian Aboriginal Men: Men, Hearts and Minds. 5th Australian Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium: Strategic Alliances: Facing The Challenges Together In Rural and Remote Mental Health Geelong, Victoria: Rural and Remote Mental Health; 2013.

Brown A, Mentha R, Rowley K, Skinner T, Davy C, O'Dea K. Depression in Aboriginal men in Central Australia: Adaptation of the Patient Health Questionnaire 9. BMC Psychiatry [Internet]. 2013; 13:[271 p.]. Available from:

Jeremy RW, Kritharides L, Brown A. Improving Outcomes after Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery: Lessons from Indigenous Australians. Heart, Lung and Circulation. 2013 Aug;22(8):597-8.

Roberts KV, Brown ADH, Maguire GP, Atkinson DN, Carapetis JR. Utility of auscultatory screening for detecting rheumatic heart disease in high-risk children in Australia’s Northern Territory. Med J Aust. 2013 Aug 5;199(3):196-9.

Luke JN, Brown A, Daniel M, O’Dea K, Best JD, Jenkins AJ, et al. The metabolic syndrome and CVD outcomes for a central Australian cohort. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2013 Mar 26. PubMed PMID: 23540681. Epub 2013/04/02. Eng.

Artuso S, Cargo M, Brown A, Daniel M. Factors influencing health care utilisation among Aboriginal cardiac patients in central Australia: a qualitative study. BMC Health Services Research 2013 Mar 6;13:83.

Stewart S, Carrington MJ, Swemmer CH, Anderson C, Kurstjens NP, Amerena J, et al. Effect of intensive structured care on individual blood pressure targets in primary care: multicentre randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 2012;345:e7156. PubMed PMID: 23169801. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC3502035. Epub 2012/11/22. eng.

Peiris D, Brown A, Howard M, Rickards B, Tonkin A, Ring I, et al. Building better systems of care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people: findings from the Kanyini health systems assessment. BMC Health Serv Res. 2012 Oct 28;12(1):369.

Brown A. Addressing cardiovascular inequalities among indigenous Australians. Global Cardiology Science and Practice. 2012 Sep 10;2.

McGrady M, Krum H, Carrington MJ, Stewart S, Zeitz C, Lee GA, et al. Heart failure, ventricular dysfunction and risk factor prevalence in Australian Aboriginal peoples: the Heart of the Heart Study. Heart. 2012 November 1, 2012;98(21):1562-7. Epub 2012/08/14.

Brown A, Scales U, Beever W, Rickards B, Rowley K, O’Dea K. Exploring the expression of depression and distress in aboriginal men in central Australia: a qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry. 2012 Aug;12:97. PubMed PMID: 22853622. Pubmed Central PMCID: PMC3441213. Epub 2012/08/03. eng.

Azzopardi P, Brown AD, Zimmet P, Fahy RE, Dent GA, Kelly MJ, et al. Type 2 diabetes in young Indigenous Australians in rural and remote areas: diagnosis, screening, management and prevention. Med J Aust. 2012 Jul 2;197(1):32-6. PubMed PMID: 22762229. Epub 2012/07/06. eng.

Luke JN, Brown AD, Brazionis L, O’Dea K, Best JD, McDermott RA, et al. Exploring clinical predictors of cardiovascular disease in a central australian aboriginal cohort. European journal of preventive cardiology. 2013 Jan 24;20 2246-253. PubMed PMID: 22345691. Epub 2012/01/24. Eng.

Minges KE, Zimmet P, Magliano DJ, Dunstan DW, Brown A, Shaw JE. Diabetes prevalence and determinants in Indigenous Australian populations: A systematic review. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2011 Aug;93(2):139-49. PubMed PMID: 21742398. Epub 2011/07/12. eng.

Kritharides L, Brown A, Brieger D, Ridell T, Zeitz C, Jeremy R, et al. Recommendations arising from the inaugural CSANZ Conference on Indigenous Cardiovascular Health. Heart Lung Circ. 2010 May-Jun;19(5-6):269-72. PubMed PMID: 20378405. Epub 2010/04/10. eng.

Brown AD, Barton DA, Lambert GW. Cardiovascular abnormalities in patients with major depressive disorder: autonomic mechanisms and implications for treatment. CNS Drugs. 2009 Jun;23(7):583-602. PubMed PMID: 19552486. Epub 2009/06/26. eng.

Brown A. Bridging the Survival Gap Between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians: Priorities for the Road Ahead. Heart, Lung and Circulation. 2009 Apr1;18(2):96-100.

Current Competitive Funding

Brown, Roder, Cargo, Keefe, Eckert, Farshid Cancer data and Aboriginal disparities. NHMRC partnership grant 2014 – 2017.

Brown, Nicholls, Sanders, Gibson, Willoughby, Aboriginal Cardiovascular OMEGA 3 randomised controlled trial. NHMRC Project Grant 2014 – 2016.

Pearson, Brown, Braunack-Mayer, Brown. Innovation in the Synthesis and Translation of Research Evidence to Inform the Prevention, Management and Treatment of Chronic Disease in Indigenous Populations. NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence 2013-2018.

Brown. Hearts and Minds: Exploring the Psychosocial Determinants of Indigenous Health Disparity: Fellow, Viertel Charitable Foundation 2013-2018.

Stewart, Brown, Thompson, Stocks, Eades, Scuffham, Carrington, Sliwa, Maguire. Centre for Excellence to Reduce Inequality in Heart Disease. NHMRC CRE Health Services 2013-2017

Cargo, Brown, Daniel, King, Malin, Roe, AHCSA. Assessing the capacity of South Australian Aboriginal community-controlled health services to deliver comprehensive primary health care to address the burden of grief and loss. Beyond Blue National Priority Driven Research Program 2013-2014.

Maple-Brown, Brown et al. Diabetes in Pregnancy. NHMRC Partnership 2012-2016.

Carapetis, Brown, Maguire, Bailie, Currie, Kirby, Johnston, Edwards. Improving delivery of secondary prophylaxis for rheumatic heart disease. NHMRC Project Grant 2012-2014.

Daniel, Bailie, Cargo, Paquet, Brown, Bruce. Investigating social, built and physical environment factors for remote Indigenous communities, and their relationships with cardiometabolic outcomes. ARC Project Grant 2012-2014.

Brown, Cass, Eades, Hackett, Lavoie, Togni. Centre for Excellence in Primary Care Intervention Research in Chronic Disease among Indigenous People. APHCRI 2011-2014.

Brown, Carrington, Zeitz, Thompson, Eades. The Central Australian heart Protection Study RCT. NHMRC 2010-2015.

Cass, Brown, Rodgers, Hayman, Usherwood, Peiris, Burke. A trial of the Polypill compared to usual care among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at high CVS risk. NHMRC Project Grant 2010-2014.

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SAHMRI is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna Nation.

The SAHMRI community acknowledges and respects the traditional owners, the family clans who are the Kaurna Nation from the Adelaide Plains region of South Australia. We acknowledge the clans of the Kaurna Nation and the sacred knowledge they hold for their country. We pay our respects to the Kaurna Nation, their ancestors and the descendants of these living family clans today.