Associate Professor Muhammad Aziz Rahman has recently joined the PHAA Board as a co-convenor of the Health Promotion SIG.
Currently the Associate Dean Research and Associate Professor of Public Health, School of Health, at Federation University in Victoria, he’s enjoyed a varied career on several continents.
This has included studying in Bangladesh, Australia and the United States, helping counter infectious disease outbreaks in Bangladesh, and working on public health projects in Afghanistan between the Taliban’s fall and rise.
He’s kindly replied to our questions.
How did you become interested in public health?
I am an overseas trained Medical Doctor. Following my graduation from the topmost medical college in Bangladesh (Dhaka Medical College, Dhaka University), I decided to work on Public Health, so that I will be able to create an impact at population levels nationally and internationally, rather than diagnose and treat a single individual. With that inspiration, I started my career in working with a multinational pharmaceutical company and worked with cancer patients.
That role generated my interest further to learn about research, when I was engaged in clinical trials and awareness raising events. I realised that I need to have a thorough understanding of public health and research at first, so I decided to do a Master of Public Health (MPH) and got a full scholarship to do my MPH from James P Grant School of Public Health at BRAC University, Bangladesh.
That program provided me the opportunities to interact with the global experts in public health and with international students. I realised the wide scope of working in public health nationally and internationally.
Then I decided to experience public health issues in international settings and accepted the position of Project Manager of Health with BRAC International. My destination was Afghanistan and I worked there for six months, which was my lifetime unique experience of working at fields in resource-constraint war-torn countries.
I learnt how to manage public health programs at primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare settings, how to work with multidisciplinary teams including Government officials and international donor agencies.
Then I went back to Bangladesh and accepted a position of Research Investigator with an international research organization named as ICDDR,B.
I was seconded to the Government-run Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research and my role was to strengthen national surveillance of communicable diseases and lead outbreak investigations.
I contributed to a number of significant outbreak investigations during the tenure there, one of which was a Nipah virus outbreak. My research contributed to the identification of one of the key issues for disease transmission, and a subsequent reduction in deaths due to Nipah.
Then I was successful in receiving full scholarship to do my PhD in Public Health at the University of Adelaide. While there, I worked as a South Australian Government Public Health Officer during Swine Flu outbreaks. I also received funding to complete a Graduate Certificate Program in Tobacco Control from Johns Hopkins University, USA. I was lucky to finish my PhD in under three years as an international student with five research publications arising from my thesis. I then returned to the University of Adelaide. Over the last 12 years in Australia, I’ve worked with a number of universities such as Australian Catholic University, Deakin University, La Trobe University and now Federation University.
Being a public health professional, I always feel obliged to engage with local multicultural communities to improve their health and wellbeing. Therefore, I also engaged myself in a number of community organizations besides my professional roles and responsibilities.
Have there been any career highlights so far?
I am a Public Health Physician and fortunate to be an experienced and respected academic leader within the domain of public health research and learning in Australia and international settings.
I have been demonstrating my leadership, technical abilities and engagement with policy development with the ultimate aim to advance knowledge and good-practice to improve health outcomes for local, national and global communities.
I have published more than 100 research papers in highly ranked journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, and British Medical Journal. I’ve more than 20,000 citations and h-index 35. I was very fortunate to be ranked among the world’s top 2% scientists in 2020 by Elsevier BV, Stanford University, USA.
What do you enjoy about teaching?
I have been contributing to leadership in learning and teaching across the range of requisite capacities during the past 15 years both in Australia and internationally. The primary focus of my teaching subjects are public health and research methods. The effectiveness of my teaching leadership was demonstrated by positive student feedback. I have been providing supportive supervision to higher degree research students, specifically PhD students. The success of my students always brings pleasure to mine.
Why did you decide to nominate for the Board of the PHAA?
I have been involved with PHAA since I was a PhD student and have been acting as a Co-Convenor for the Health Promotion Special Interest Group (SIG) for the last 3 years. I believe that I can contribute further by being a Board member of PHAA. I will be able to work more closely with the leadership team to fulfil the strategic directions of PHAA.
What are your goals?
Being a SIG representative, my primary goal will be to be a voice of all SIG Convenors at the Board, and play my advocacy role for relevant policy updates.