Profile image of Laura Alston

Dr Laura Alston



Research Fellow


Faculty of Health


School of Medicine

+61 3 524 79426

Biography summary

Dr Laura Alston is a National Health Foundation Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and World Heart Federation Emerging Leader. Dr Alston is also an Accredited Practising Dietitian and the Director of Research at Colac Area Health.

Dr Alston's research focusses on investigating rural health disparities in Australia and globally, and the role of dietary intake in these differences. Dr Alston is the recipient of two competitive fellowships and is an investigator on more than $14 million in research funding.  

Career highlights

Accredited Practising Dietitian (2010-current)

Graduate Women's Victoria Research award (2018)

Western Alliance Associate Research Fellowship (2019-2020)

World Heart Federation Emerging Leader Fellow (2019)

National Heart Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship (2020)

National Heart Foundation Collaboration and Exchange Award (2021)

Research interests

Rural Health, Cardiovascular Diseases, Diet, Food Environments, Prevention, Health Services Research 


The Global Obesity Centre, Institute for Health Transformation, Deakin University

Deakin Rural Health, School of Medicine, Deakin University

Colac Area Health Research Unit, Colac, Victoria

Honorary Researcher, Ballarat Health Services

Knowledge areas

Nutrition and Dietetics, Nutritional Epidemiology, Rural Health, Cardiovascular Disease, Prevention, Health Disparities 

Professional activities

Dietitian's Australia mentor for provisional Accredited Practising Dietitians (2013-current)

Co-chair of NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence (RE-FRESH) Early and Mid-Career committee (2020)

Department of Health and Human Services Allied Health Research Framework scheme mentor (2019)

Research Mentor Western Alliance Academic Health Science centre’s Supporting Translation of Research in Rural and Regional areas (STaRR program) 

Media appearances

Dr Alston's research as featured on ABC Rural radio stations, WIN News, the Herald Sun, Geelong Advertiser and the Colac Herald


PhD research award, Graduate Women Victoria

World Heart Federation Emerging Leader, 2019

Western Alliance Associate Research Fellowship 2019-2021


Filter by


Testing the accuracy of a bedside screening tool framework to clinical records for identification of patients at risk of malnutrition in a rural setting: An exploratory study

L Alston, M Green, M Nichols, S Partridge, A Buccheri, K Bolton, V Versace, M Field, A Launder, A Lily, S Allender, L Orellana

(2022), Vol. 14, pp. 1-9, Nutrients, Basel, Switzerland, C1

journal article

Factors Influencing Implementation, Sustainability and Scalability of Healthy Food Retail Interventions: A Systematic Review of Reviews

A Gupta, L Alston, C Needham, E Robinson, J Marshall, T Boelsen-Robinson, M Blake, C Huggins, A Peeters

(2022), Vol. 14, pp. 1-18, Nutrients, Basel, Switzerland, C1

journal article

Approaches Used to Describe, Measure and Analyze Place of Practice in Dentistry, Medical, Nursing and Allied Health Rural Graduate Workforce Research in Australia: A Systematic Scoping Review

H Beks, S Walsh, L Alston, M Jones, T Smith, D Maybery, K Sutton, V Versace

(2022), Vol. 19, pp. 1-16, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Basel, Switzerland, C1

journal article

What shapes research and research capacity building in rural health services? Context matters

A Wong Shee, C Quilliam, D Corboy, K Glenister, C McKinstry, A Beauchamp, L Alston, D Maybery, D Aras, K Mc Namara

(2022), pp. 1-12, Australian Journal of Rural Health, London, England, C1

journal article

Characterizing the Health of Older Rural Australians Attending Rural Events: Implications for Future Health Promotion Opportunities

T Schumacher, L Alston, L Wakely, R Latter, K Squires, S Heaney, L Brown

(2022), Vol. 19, pp. 1-14, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Basel, Switzerland, C1

journal article

Community Health Programs Delivered Through Information and Communications Technology in High-Income Countries: Scoping Review

H Beks, O King, R Clapham, L Alston, K Glenister, C McKinstry, C Quilliam, I Wellwood, C Williams, A Shee

(2022), Vol. 24, pp. 1-18, Journal of Medical Internet Research, Toronto, Ont., C1

journal article

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Rural Food Security in High Income Countries: A Systematic Literature Review

K Kent, L Alston, S Murray, B Honeychurch, D Visentin

(2022), Vol. 19, pp. 1-29, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Basel, Switzerland, C1

journal article

The Magnitude of NCD Risk Factors in Ethiopia: Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review of Evidence

F Tesfay, K Backholer, C Zorbas, S Bowe, L Alston, C Bennett

(2022), Vol. 19, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, C1

journal article

Underinvestment in nutrition research for at-risk populations: An analysis of research funding awarded in Australia from 2014 to 2021

L Alston, R Raeside, S Jia, S Partridge

(2022), Vol. 79, pp. 438-446, Nutrition and Dietetics, Richmond, Vic., C1

journal article

Systematic review of the effectiveness of health promotion interventions targeting obesity prevention in school-based staff

A Hill, L Alston, C Needham, A Peeters, A Lamontagne, M Nichols

(2022), Vol. 37, Health Promotion International, C1

journal article

The impact of coalition characteristics on outcomes in community-based initiatives targeting the social determinants of health: a systematic review

P Nagorcka-Smith, K Bolton, J Dam, M Nichols, L Alston, M Johnstone, S Allender

(2022), Vol. 22, BMC Public Health, C1

journal article

Healthy weight, health behaviours and quality of life among Aboriginal children living in regional Victoria

J Browne, D Becker, L Orellana, J Ryan, T Walker, J Whelan, L Alston, M Egan, B Johnson, A Rossignoli, N Crooks, A Brown, K Bolton, P Fraser, H Le, C Bell, J Hayward, A Sanigorski, K Backholer, S Allender, C Strugnell

(2022), pp. 1-9, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Chichester, Eng., C1

journal article

Limited dietary interventions in rural Australian communities: a systematic review

L Alston, S Partridge

(2021), Vol. 78, pp. 57-68, Nutrition and dietetics, Chichester, Eng., C1

journal article

Understanding the healthfulness of outlets providing lunch and dinner meals: a census of a rural food retail environment in Victoria, Australia

L Alston, V Versace, E Brown, M Nichols, J Whelan, K Bolton, G Sacks, C Needham, L Orellana, S Allender

(2021), Vol. 45, pp. 65-70, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Australia, C1

journal article

The impact of covid-19 on rural food supply and demand in australia: Utilising group model building to identifyretailer and customer perspectives

J Whelan, A Brown, L Coller, C Strugnell, S Allender, L Alston, J Hayward, J Brimblecombe, C Bell

(2021), Vol. 13, pp. 1-11, Nutrients, Switzerland, C1

journal article

The challenges of becoming and being a clinician manager: a qualitative exploration of the perception of medical doctors in senior leadership roles at a large Australian health service

Didir Imran, Karen Rog, John Gallichio, Laura Alston

(2021), Vol. 21, pp. 1-9, BMC health services research, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Association between the school physical activity environment, measured and self-reported student physical activity and active transport behaviours in Victoria, Australia

N Crooks, L Alston, M Nichols, K Bolton, S Allender, P Fraser, H Le, J Bliss, C Rennie, L Orellana, C Strugnell

(2021), Vol. 18, International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, England, C1

journal article

Assessing adherence and exploring barriers to provision of prescribed texture modifications for dysphagia in a residential aged care facility in rural Australia

C Hill, R Clapham, A Buccheri, M Field, A Wong Shee, L Alston

(2021), pp. 1-10, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, London, Eng., C1

journal article

A comparison of the modelled impacts on CVD mortality if attainment of public health recommendations was achieved in metropolitan and rural Australia

L Alston, J Jacobs, S Allender, M Nichols

(2020), Vol. 23, pp. 339-347, Public Health Nutrition, England, C1

journal article

Measurement methods used to assess the school food environment: A systematic review

S O’halloran, G Eksteen, M Gebremariam, L Alston

(2020), Vol. 17, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Switzerland, C1

journal article

Responsibility for evidence-based policy in cardiovascular disease in rural communities: Implications for persistent rural health inequalities

L Alston, L Bourke, M Nichols, S Allender

(2020), Vol. 44, pp. 527-534, Australian health review, Clayton, Vic., C1

journal article

Profiling malnutrition prevalence among australian rural in-patients using a retrospective census of electronic medical files over a 12-month period

L Alston, M Green, V Versace, K Bolton, K Widdicombe, A Buccheri, D Imran, S Allender, L Orellana, M Nichols

(2020), Vol. 17, pp. 1-11, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Switzerland, C1

journal article

Characterizing dietary intakes in rural australian adults: A systematic literature review

L Alston, T Walker, K Kent

(2020), Vol. 12, pp. 1-21, Nutrients, Basel, Switzerland, C1

journal article

Beyond the black stump: rapid reviews of health research issues affecting regional, rural and remote Australia

S Osborne, L Alston, K Bolton, J Whelan, E Reeve, A Wong Shee, J Browne, T Walker, V Versace, S Allender, M Nichols, K Backholer, N Goodwin, S Lewis, H Dalton, G Prael, M Curtin, R Brooks, S Verdon, J Crockett, G Hodgins, S Walsh, D Lyle, S Thompson, L Browne, S Knight, S Pit, M Jones, M Gillam, M Leach, D Gonzalez-Chica, K Muyambi, T Eshetie, K Tran, E May, G Lieschke, V Parker, A Smith, C Hayes, A Dunlop, H Rajappa, R White, P Oakley, S Holliday

(2020), Vol. 213, pp. S3-S32.e1, Medical Journal of Australia, Australia, C1

journal article

Retail initiatives to improve the healthiness of food environments in rural, regional and remote communities

Laura Alston, Kristy Bolton, Jill Whelan, Erica Reeve, Anna Shee, Jennifer Browne, Troy Walker, Vincent Versace, Steven Allender, Melanie Nichols, Kathryn Backholer

(2020), Vol. 213, pp. S5-+, MEDICAL JOURNAL OF AUSTRALIA, C1

journal article

Variation in the physical activity environment according to area-level socio-economic position-a systematic review

Jane Jacobs, Laura Alston, Cindy Needham, Kathryn Backholer, Claudia Strugnell, Steven Allender, Melanie Nichols

(2019), Vol. 20, pp. 686-700, Obesity reviews, Chichester, Eng., C1

journal article

Policy makers' perceptions of the high burden of heart disease in rural Australia: Implications for the implementation of evidence-based rural health policy

L Alston, M Nichols, S Allender

(2019), Vol. 14, PLoS ONE, United States, C1

journal article

Associations between school food environments, body mass index and dietary intakes among regional school students in Victoria, Australia: A cross-sectional study

L Alston, N Crooks, C Strugnell, L Orellana, S Allender, C Rennie, M Nichols

(2019), Vol. 16, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Switzerland, C1

journal article

Regional variation in cardiovascular mortality in Australia 2009-2012: the impact of remoteness and socioeconomic status

J Jacobs, K Peterson, S Allender, L Alston, M Nichols

(2018), Vol. 42, pp. 467-473, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Australia, C1

journal article

Rural Inequalities in the Australian Burden of Ischaemic Heart Disease: A Systematic Review

L Alston, S Allender, K Peterson, J Jacobs, M Nichols

(2017), Vol. 26, pp. 122-133, Heart Lung and Circulation, Australia, C1

journal article

Comparison between measured and perceived weight status in a nationally representative sample of Australian adults

J Herbert, K Peterson, L Alston, S Allender, M Nichols

(2017), Vol. 11, pp. 414-425, Obesity research & clinical practice, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, C1

journal article

Quantifying the role of modifiable risk factors in the differences in cardiovascular disease mortality rates between metropolitan and rural populations in Australia: A macrosimulation modelling study

L Alston, K Peterson, J Jacobs, S Allender, M Nichols

(2017), Vol. 7, BMJ Open, England, C1

journal article

Characterising the extent of misreporting of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes using the Australian Health Survey

K Peterson, J Jacobs, S Allender, L Alston, M Nichols

(2016), Vol. 16, BMC Public Health, England, C1

journal article

A systematic review of published interventions for primary and secondary prevention of ischaemic heart disease (IHD) in rural populations of Australia

L Alston, K Peterson, J Jacobs, S Allender, M Nichols

(2016), Vol. 16, BMC Public Health, England, C1

journal article

Critical design features for establishing a childhood obesity monitoring program in Australia

K Lacy, M Nichols, A De Silva, S Allender, B Swinburn, E Leslie, L Jones, P Kremer

(2015), Vol. 21, pp. 369-372, Australian journal of primary health, Melbourne, Vic, C1

journal article

Solid versus liquid-satiety study in well-adjusted lap-band patients

Laura Alston, Kay Jones, Chris Hensman, Ruth Bertuch, Toni McGee, John Dixon

(2013), Vol. 23, pp. 1266-1272, Obesity surgery, New York, N.Y., C1-1

journal article

The appropriateness of opt-out consent for monitoring childhood obesity in Australia

K Lacy, P Kremer, A de Silva-Sanigorski, S Allender, E Leslie, L Jones, S Fornaro, B Swinburn

(2012), Vol. 7, Pediatric obesity, Oxford, England, C1

journal article

Government food service policies and guidelines do not create healthy school canteens

A de Silva-Sanigorski, T Breheny, L Jones, K Lacy, P Kremer, L Carpenter, K Bolton, L Prosser, L Gibbs, E Waters, B Swinburn

(2011), Vol. 35, pp. 117-121, Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, Richmond, Vic., C1

journal article

Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

Reducing the burden of cardiovascular diseases for future rural dwelling Australians

Dr Laura Alston, Prof Steven Allender, Prof Vincent Versace

NHF Fellowship - Postdoctoral Research Fellowship - National Heart Foundation of Australia

  • 2022: $15,000
  • 2021: $60,960
  • 2020: $45,000

Delivering enhanced healthcare at home for older people in rural Australia

Prof Anna Peeters, Prof Vincent Versace, Mr Craig Wilding, Prof Wendy Chapman, Prof Terry Haines, Dr Anna Wong Shee, A/Prof Joanne Porter, Prof Warren Payne, Dr Louise Greenstock, Prof Steven Allender, Dr Laura Alston, A/Prof Anna Borda, A/Prof Anna Ugalde, Dr Olivia King, Mrs Fiona Mitchell, Mrs Hannah Beks, Ms Sue Williams, Prof Adam Elshaug, Prof Martin Hensher, Dr Joannne Enticott, A/Prof Michele Callisaya, Prof Bodil Rasmussen, A/Prof Kevin Mc Namara

MRFF (DISER) Rapid Applied Research Translation

  • 2022: $1,223,738

Veg4Me - A personalised digital health solution for improving vegetable intake and cardiovascular health in young adults living in rural and disadvantaged communities

Dr Katherine Livingstone, Dr Jonathan Rawstorn, Dr Laura Alston, Dr Stephanie Partridge

NHF Vanguard Grant - National Heart Foundation of Australia

  • 2023: $72,984

Other Public Sector Funding

Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training and Research program 2018 - 2020

Prof Vincent Versace, A/Prof Kevin Mc Namara, Dr Anna Wong Shee, Dr Andrea Hernan, Dr Laura Alston

Australian Government Department of Health

  • 2022: $1,382,858
  • 2021: $1,035,927
  • 2020: $2,375,172

Group Model Building: a collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach to reduce potentially avoidable visits to the Emergency Department.

Dr Anna Wong Shee, Prof Vincent Versace, A/Prof Kevin Mc Namara, Prof Steven Allender, Dr Laura Alston

Ballarat Health Services

  • 2021: $18,036

Industry and Other Funding

Preventing chronic diseases in rural populations for future generations: The role of rural health services in guiding community efforts to improve the food environment.

Dr Laura Alston, Prof Steven Allender, Prof Vincent Versace, Dr Melanie Nichols, Dr Kristy Bolton

Western Alliance

  • 2020: $20,595
  • 2019: $41,359

A review of evidence on interventions to improve the availability and promotion of healthy food in rural communities.

Dr Laura Alston, Prof Kathryn Backholer, Prof Vincent Versace, Prof Steven Allender, Dr Melanie Nichols, Dr Jill Whelan, Dr Anna Wong Shee, Ms Erica Reeve

Australasian Medical Publishing Co Proprietary Ltd

  • 2020: $10,000

Victorian Healthcare Recovery Initiative (VHRI) Workforce Impact: Lessons learnt from COVID-19 and the impact on rural and regional health system workforce.

Prof Alison Hutchinson, Dr Simon Albrecht, Dr Anna Wong Shee, Dr Laura Alston

Western Alliance

  • 2022: $25,000
  • 2021: $25,000

Other Funding Sources

Rapidly advancing the availability and quality of dietary data collected in rural Australia

Dr Laura Alston

Heart Foundation Collaboration and Exchange Award (Conferences)

  • 2022: $5,000


No completed student supervisions to report