Professor Joan Cunningham

Senior principal research fellow


Doctor of Science (Epidemiology), Harvard School of Public Health, 1994; Master of Liberal Arts (Psychology), Harvard University, 1991; Bachelor of Arts (Sociology), Harvard University, 1985.

Approved level of HDR supervision at Charles Darwin University:

Principal Supervisor for PhD




Professor Joan Cunningham is a social epidemiologist with a core focus on equity in health and health care.

Her work on the social and system determinants of Indigenous health has illuminated critical shortcomings in health system performance for Indigenous Australians and identified pathways to improve equity of access and outcomes.

Prof Cunningham's work is wide-ranging and she has published seminal papers on topics such as interpersonal and institutional racism, the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people in urban areas, the care and experiences of Indigenous end-stage kidney disease patients, socioeconomic gradients of various chronic diseases, cervical screening participation and outcomes, and cancer epidemiology.

Prof Cunningham currently co-leads a Centre of Research Excellence on improving cancer services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and holds a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellowship.

She has a long record of success in building research capacity and in mentoring and developing emerging research leaders, including Indigenous researchers, and was awarded the Australasian Epidemiological Association’s Mentoring Award in recognition of her achievements.

She has a strong, sustained history of highly productive multidisciplinary research collaborations, underpinned by the development and nurturing of respectful partnerships with Indigenous colleagues, organisations, community members and students.

Prof Cunningham regularly serves on Grant Review Panels and has been a Member of the Editorial Board of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health since 2004.

She has been supported by more than $28 million in grants and consultancies since 2000 and has over 100 publications to date


Media Expertise