Global Burden of Disease Group

Research Overview

The Global Burden of Disease Group has revolutionised global health with their work that examines whether human beings are living longer and getting healthier.

The Global Burden of Disease study, co-founded by the Director of the Group, Laureate Professor Alan Lopez AC at the University of Melbourne works in partnership with the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle.

The study provides comprehensive, consistent estimates of mortality and morbidity. This concept is now internationally recognised and applied to measure premature mortality and disability for major diseases or disease groups within countries.

The Global Burden of Disease framework provides a road map of health challenges, charting past progress to provide direction in preparing for the challenges ahead.

Our work involves strong collaborations with researchers and government analysts, particularly throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Our critical appraisal of the annual estimates of disease burden improves the value of this data for policy and planning.

One of our flagship projects is the annual updating, publication and dissemination in The Lancet of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, led by IHME. The study involves more than 2500 collaborators from over 150 countries and produces a systematic assessment of loss of health due to disease throughout the world. This broad, comparative view of health loss by cause provides a much better understanding of risk factors, helping to ensure that major health challenges are not ignored or over-emphasised.

We also collaborate with countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) and other global partners on research and practice to improve the quality of vital registration data, particularly on causes of death. Our most recent work with the Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative focuses on improving cause of death data in 20 low-and-middle-income countries, that will provide decision makers with a roadmap to improve upon their country’s health priorities

The Global Burden of Disease Group’s long-standing collaboration with Oxford University focuses on the global epidemiology of tobacco, including methods to estimate a country's tobacco-attributable mortality.

Other innovative research projects include developing ways to measure causes of death cost-effectively in resource-poor settings by using automated 'verbal autopsy' methods. This approach is based on interviews with people who knew the deceased. The information gathered is then analysed by computer algorithms to assign a probable cause of death without involving physicians. This information on deaths that would have otherwise remained undocumented enables scientists to analyse disease patterns and can direct public policy decisions.

More than 50 countries have undertaken national Burden of Disease studies to inform local health planning, based on the work of the Global Burden of Disease Group and IHME.


Level 5, 207 Bouverie Street
Melbourne School of Population and Global Health
The University of Melbourne
Victoria, 3010, Australia


Laureate Professor Alan Lopez (Director and Rowden-White Chair of Global Health and Burden of Disease Measurement)

Dr Natalie Carvalho


Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle