I have a long interest in health, development, the environment and social justice. Between 1989 and 1992, while working as a general medical practitioner, I co-founded two development promoting non-governmental organizations called BODHI US and BODHI Australia, funded by the public in the US and Australia, today supporting projects in South Asia.
My formal qualifications are in medical science, medicine (both Newcastle, NSW 1984.1987), tropical medicine and hygiene (Royal College Physicians 1990) and epidemiology (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 1997), capped in 2002 by a multidisciplinary PhD in epidemiology and population health from the Australian National University (ANU), for a thesis entitled "Inequality and Sustainability".
I have long been recognised internationally for my activism for sustainable health and poverty reduction, including being named “one of a 100 doctors for the planet”, in 2009, by the French Environmental Health Association. In 2010 I was awarded a prestigious Australian Research Council "Future Fellow" research fellowship which supported independent research on the topic “Health and sustainability: Australia in a global context” between February 2011 and February 2015.
My writing, editing and activism mostly concern sustainability, global environmental change, human health, development, conflict and human rights. I was a co-ordinating lead author (CLA) for the conceptual framework and the scenarios working group (future human well-being) of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2002-05). I was a Lead Author in the health chapter of the Global Energy Assessment and a Contributing Author for the 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, in the health chapter. I was the CLA on health for the Asia Pacific section of the Global Environmental Outlook 6, the theme of which is “Healthy Planet Healthy People”, and am one of 4 lead authors on human health, for the overall report. In 2017 I was appointed as a convening lead author for a forthcoming global report (2019) on forests and the sustainable development goals, co-ordinated by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.
I have given almost 160 invited lectures, including 71 outside of Australia, in 16 countries to date.
In 2014 I co-founded a new international research collaboration, called Health-Earth. I am the founding co-chair. I have worked at 4 Australian universities, including as Professor of Public Health at the University of Canberra, Australia, from 2012 to 2016. I am currently a campus visitor at the Australian National University, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra.
In 2014 I became the first Australian IPCC contributor to be arrested for climate disobedience, protesting coal exports.