PhD Projects

Project Details

Shurong Li- ‘A cultural adaptation of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) for China’.

This project is about the cultural adaptation of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) for China. MHFA is a course that trains members of the public to assist someone who is developing a mental illness and/or in a mental health crisis. Evidence from high-income countries suggests that this program is effective in improving mental health knowledge and promoting help-seeking behaviours, but no such evidence is available in China yet. This doctoral research project involves (A) a scoping review to map mental health literary in China, (B) two Delphi surveys to redevelop MHFA guidelines for depression and suicide in China; and (C) a qualitative study to identify the implementation models of MHFA for China.

This is funded by the Melbourne Research Scholarship; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases Funding, and is co-supervised by Professor Brian Oldenburg, A/Prof Nicola Reavley, Professor Yanling He and Professor Ming Wu


Dr. Nitin Kapoor – ‘Obesity indicators and their role in identifying metabolic disorders in the Asian Indian population’.

Obesity has attained epidemic proportions in many South-Asian countries. The spectrum of obesity in an Indian setting may vary from apparently thin looking – normal weight obese individual to morbidly obese individuals. The utility of conventional obesity indicators in this unique setting is often challenging. Given this perspective, chronic nature of the disease, the rising trend, a disproportionately large diabetic population and poor access to conventional therapeutic options, it becomes imperative to study obesity from a different standpoint in these individuals.

This is funded by the ENCORE program, and is co-supervised by Professor Brian Oldenburg, A/Prof John Furler and Professor Nihal Thomas.


Dr Kishori Mahat - "Establishing a model for scaling-up and institutionalizing structured lifestyle modification programs for improving cardiometabolic outcomes in low and middle-income countries (LMIC)".

The research will identify the contextual factors in the community and health system for scaling-up structured lifestyle modification programs to improve cardiometabolic outcomes in LMIC. The research will build on the evidence base from the Australian NHMRC-funded randomized trial of the Kerala Diabetes Prevention Program (K-DPP) over the last 10 years and will utilize data from a currently funded GACD project being undertaken in India for the next 5 years, called the "Scaling up interventions to improve the control of hypertension and diabetes in partnership with the governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu: Leveraging India’s national NCD program".

The research is funded by Graduate Research Scholarship provided by the University of Melbourne and is supervised by Professor Brian Oldenburg.


Enying Gong – ‘Design, implementation and evaluation of digital public health programs for chronic disease prevention and management’

This study focuses on the design, implementation and evaluation of digital public health programs for chronic disease prevention and management. The research is built based on (1) My Diabetes Coach Project: a randomized controlled trial to evaluate a digital health program on diabetes self-management for people with type 2 diabetes in Australia. (2) SINEMA project: a cluster-randomized controlled trial involving 50 villages in rural China for stroke secondary prevention. (3) A review of existing mHealth solutions for chronic disease management.

The project is funded by the Graduate Research Scholarship provided by the University of Melbourne, and is co-supervised by Professor Brian Oldenburg, Professor John Furler, Professor Paull Scuffham, and Professor Lijing Yan.


Dr Mojtaba Lotfalian – ‘Prevention of type 2 diabetes by lifestyle intervention programs in resource-constrained settings.

This project aims to assess the effectiveness of lifestyle interventions in low- and middle-income countries, with a focus on two types of lifestyle intervention programs: structured lifestyle intervention programs among individuals at high risk of type 2 diabetes and community-wide intervention programs.

This project is funded by the Melbourne International Resource Scholarship, and is co-supervised by Professor Brian Oldenburg, Associate Professor Davood Khalili, Associate Professor Mohammad Ali Mansournia and Professor John Hopper.


Yang Zhao – ‘Socioeconomic inequalities in health care and financial protection among people with NCDs in China’.

The rapid rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and ageing poses major challenges for China’s health system. China officially launched the New Health System Reform in 2009. This project aims to examine socioeconomic inequalities in the health care service, financial protection and health outcome among the Chinese adults with NCDs. This study also plans to identify the key socioeconomic factors of inequalities in health care and health outcomes, using two China nationally representative datasets.

This is funded by the Melbourne Research Scholarship (MRS) 2016-19, and is co-supervised by Professor Brian Oldenburg, Professor Ajay Mahal, Professor Xiayoin Liu and Professor Shenglan Tang.

Research Group

Non Communicable Disease Unit


School Research Themes

Prevention and management of non-communicable diseases (including cancer), and promotion of mental health



Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Nossal Institute for Global Health

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