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Astell-Burt, Thomas E. Professor of Population Health and Environmental Data Science

Faculty Member

  • Honorary Professor - Menzies Centre for Health Policy, University of Sydney
  • Professor of Population Health and Environmental Data Science - School of Health and Society
  • Adjunct Professor - National Institute for Environmental Health, China CDC
  • Founding Co-Director - Population Wellbeing and Environment Research Lab (PowerLab)
  • Adjunct Professor - Peking Union Medical College and The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences
  • NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow - 2017 - 2021

Overview


Thomas Astell-Burt is the Professor of Population Health and Environmental Data Science and the Founding Co-Director of the Population Wellbeing and Environment Research Lab (PowerLab) https://socialsciences.uow.edu.au/powerlab/index.html at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Thomas is also an NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow (1 of only 4 awarded in public health in Australia).

 

Thomas has a long-standing interest in the relationship between nature and human health, especially on the potential of green space to enrich environments for prevention of noncommunicable diseases like Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes mellitus. His research is located at the interface between population, wellbeing and environmental studies using a range of quantitative approaches (e.g. multilevel modelling, longitudinal data analysis, Geographic Information Systems).

 

Some of his recent work has analysed sources of health and spatial data to enhance understandings of how where people live shapes their health, lifestyles and wellbeing across the lifecourse. This has involved international collaborations with colleagues around the world, including Uppsala Universitet, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, North Carolina State University, UCL, Peking Union Medical College and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC). In Australia, Thomas’s work has helped to support change in policy on urban greening http://www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/services/sustainability/Documents/Urban%20Greening%20Strategy.pdf  and diabetes detection https://www.westernsydneydiabetes.com.au/ .

 

Thomas has led or co-authored over 120 publications https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=Ub4eGuwAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao and regularly collaborates with and communicates findings to external research partners including Western Sydney Local Health District and Parks and Leisure NSW, as well as a range of government departments, NGOs and local councils. He has won >$8 million in research funding and is currently leading projects supported by the NHMRC and Hort Innovation Ltd. Thomas earned his PhD from the University of St Andrews and has held postdoctoral fellowships with the National Heart Foundation of Australia and the Medical Research Council’s Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in the United Kingdom.

Prospective interns, Honours, Masters and PhD students, as well as Postdoctoral scholars and Career Development Fellows in any area of Public and Population Health are encouraged to contact A/Prof Astell-Burt via email. Domestic and international candidates with a background in Urban Planning, Public Health, Geography, Statistics and/or Geographic Information Systems are particularly welcome.

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellowship (2017-2021): Less than ideal progress in developing new treatments underlines the need for research on prevention of Alzheimer’s. Work suggests factors at the person-level (e.g., physical activity) and area-level (e.g., air quality) are likely determinants. Knowledge of the health benefits of ‘green space’ (e.g., parks) is growing, but Alzheimer’s disease has seen little investigation [1, 2].

    I will conduct the first large-scale longitudinal studies to examine if more green space of particular types (e.g. parks, street trees) reduces diagnosed Alzheimer’s risk over a 15-year timespan.

    Alzheimer’s will be identified by Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) records linked to the 45 and Up Study. This builds upon my work in green space and health [3-11] and disparities in dementia [12].

    I am supported by experts in environmental health and clinicians. The research is highly feasible by applying my statistical skills to existing data. Engagement with industry practitioners will provide opportunities to co-produce and test new green space exposure data with real-world applicability. My findings will inform green space design/planning for healthy ageing.

    [1] World Health Organization. Urban green spaces and health: a review of evidence.2016.

    [2] Hartig T, Mitchell R, de Vries S, et al. Annu Rev Public Health. 2014;35:207-28.

    [3] Mitchell R, Astell-Burt T, Richardson EA. Journal of Epi and Com Health. 2011;65:853-8.

    [4] Richardson EA, Mitchell R, de Vries S, et al. Journal of Epi and Com Health. 2012;66:160-5.

    [5] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. BMJ Open. 2013;3:e003094.

    [6] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. Prev Med. 2013;57:601-6.

    [7] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. Int J Obes. 2014;38:156-9.

    [8] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. Br J Sports Med. 2014;48:404-6.

    [9] Astell-Burt T, Mitchell R, Hartig T. Journal of Epi & Community Health. 2014;68:578-83.

    [10] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. Diabetes Care. 2014;37:197-201.

    [11] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. BMJ Open. 2016;5:e009803.

    [12] Yin P, Feng X, Astell-Burt T, et al. Alzheimer Disease & Assoc Dissorders. 2016;30:348-53.

Available as Research Supervisor

Available for Collaborative Projects

Selected Publications


Investigator On


Available as Research Supervisor

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Overall area and research themes:

    I supervise students who are interested in learning more about what types of environments advance population wellbeing and human flourishing. My students are generally based in the PowerLab and also work in one of two inter-related themes:

    1. Environments for Healthy & Equitable Ageing (led by myself)

    2. Child Health & Environments (led by Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng)

     

    Focus of student research projects:

    My students typically also have an interest and conduct research in one of the following areas:

    1. Urban Planning and Restorative Environments

    2. Residential Mobility, Commuting and Health

    3. Child Development and Healthy Ageing

    4. Geographic Data Science and Visualisation

    5. Applications of Multilevel Modelling in Public Health

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Eliminating The 'Staircase' Effect: Enhancing Integrated Care of Type 2 Diabetes in Western Sydney Through Improving Patient Retention and Preventing Inequities in Patient Drop-Out ofClinical Care Pathways
    Doctor of Philosophy Multilevel Longitudinal Analyses of Green Space and Healthy Ageing
    Doctor of Philosophy Green Space and Children's Health
    Doctor of Philosophy Do the features of urban green spaces that promote social and active ageing vary by international context? Comparison between and within Sydney, Dhaka and Singapore Shuvo, S M Faysal Kabir
    Doctor of Philosophy Understanding the influence of the environment on Type 2 diabetes Mellitus Risk and Prevention Dendup, Tashi
    Doctor of Philosophy Does neighbourhood green space promote better perinatal health outcomes? Investigating mechanisms, differential effects by green space type, and potential effect modifiers by other features of the built environment. Akaraci, Selin
    Doctor of Philosophy The contribution of dietary indicators to overall and cause-specific mortality in China during a period of rapid economic development: prospective study of more than 10,000 men with 25 years of follow-up Liu, Jiangmei
    Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) Measuring the Impact of the Built Environment of Residential Colleges on Student Wellbeing Lawer, Jodie
    Doctor of Philosophy Green space and healthy ageing John, Eme

Full Name


  • Thomas Astell-Burt

Mailing Address


  • Population Wellbeing and Environment Research Lab (PowerLab)

    Building 21, Office 203, University of Wollongong

    Wollongong

    New South Wales

    2522

    Australia

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellowship (2017-2021): Less than ideal progress in developing new treatments underlines the need for research on prevention of Alzheimer’s. Work suggests factors at the person-level (e.g., physical activity) and area-level (e.g., air quality) are likely determinants. Knowledge of the health benefits of ‘green space’ (e.g., parks) is growing, but Alzheimer’s disease has seen little investigation [1, 2].

    I will conduct the first large-scale longitudinal studies to examine if more green space of particular types (e.g. parks, street trees) reduces diagnosed Alzheimer’s risk over a 15-year timespan.

    Alzheimer’s will be identified by Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) records linked to the 45 and Up Study. This builds upon my work in green space and health [3-11] and disparities in dementia [12].

    I am supported by experts in environmental health and clinicians. The research is highly feasible by applying my statistical skills to existing data. Engagement with industry practitioners will provide opportunities to co-produce and test new green space exposure data with real-world applicability. My findings will inform green space design/planning for healthy ageing.

    [1] World Health Organization. Urban green spaces and health: a review of evidence.2016.

    [2] Hartig T, Mitchell R, de Vries S, et al. Annu Rev Public Health. 2014;35:207-28.

    [3] Mitchell R, Astell-Burt T, Richardson EA. Journal of Epi and Com Health. 2011;65:853-8.

    [4] Richardson EA, Mitchell R, de Vries S, et al. Journal of Epi and Com Health. 2012;66:160-5.

    [5] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. BMJ Open. 2013;3:e003094.

    [6] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. Prev Med. 2013;57:601-6.

    [7] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. Int J Obes. 2014;38:156-9.

    [8] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. Br J Sports Med. 2014;48:404-6.

    [9] Astell-Burt T, Mitchell R, Hartig T. Journal of Epi & Community Health. 2014;68:578-83.

    [10] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. Diabetes Care. 2014;37:197-201.

    [11] Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Kolt GS. BMJ Open. 2016;5:e009803.

    [12] Yin P, Feng X, Astell-Burt T, et al. Alzheimer Disease & Assoc Dissorders. 2016;30:348-53.

Selected Publications


Investigator On


Potential Supervision Topics


  • Overall area and research themes:

    I supervise students who are interested in learning more about what types of environments advance population wellbeing and human flourishing. My students are generally based in the PowerLab and also work in one of two inter-related themes:

    1. Environments for Healthy & Equitable Ageing (led by myself)

    2. Child Health & Environments (led by Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng)

     

    Focus of student research projects:

    My students typically also have an interest and conduct research in one of the following areas:

    1. Urban Planning and Restorative Environments

    2. Residential Mobility, Commuting and Health

    3. Child Development and Healthy Ageing

    4. Geographic Data Science and Visualisation

    5. Applications of Multilevel Modelling in Public Health

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Eliminating The 'Staircase' Effect: Enhancing Integrated Care of Type 2 Diabetes in Western Sydney Through Improving Patient Retention and Preventing Inequities in Patient Drop-Out ofClinical Care Pathways
    Doctor of Philosophy Multilevel Longitudinal Analyses of Green Space and Healthy Ageing
    Doctor of Philosophy Green Space and Children's Health
    Doctor of Philosophy Do the features of urban green spaces that promote social and active ageing vary by international context? Comparison between and within Sydney, Dhaka and Singapore Shuvo, S M Faysal Kabir
    Doctor of Philosophy Understanding the influence of the environment on Type 2 diabetes Mellitus Risk and Prevention Dendup, Tashi
    Doctor of Philosophy Does neighbourhood green space promote better perinatal health outcomes? Investigating mechanisms, differential effects by green space type, and potential effect modifiers by other features of the built environment. Akaraci, Selin
    Doctor of Philosophy The contribution of dietary indicators to overall and cause-specific mortality in China during a period of rapid economic development: prospective study of more than 10,000 men with 25 years of follow-up Liu, Jiangmei
    Doctor of Philosophy (Integrated) Measuring the Impact of the Built Environment of Residential Colleges on Student Wellbeing Lawer, Jodie
    Doctor of Philosophy Green space and healthy ageing John, Eme

Full Name


  • Thomas Astell-Burt

Mailing Address


  • Population Wellbeing and Environment Research Lab (PowerLab)

    Building 21, Office 203, University of Wollongong

    Wollongong

    New South Wales

    2522

    Australia

Geographic Focus