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Personal profile

Research Biography

Dr Maria Alejandra Pinero de Plaza, PhD, is a scientist who facilitates healthy living and better public health services. Dr. Pinero de Plaza strengthens researchers, clinicians, industry, and consumers' abilities to design, measure, and accomplish different health and social impacts. Her experience in mixed-methods, experimental design, and evaluation helps her identify and demonstrate how interventions, healthcare services, and technology can provide better choice, inclusion, voice, justice, health, and wellbeing.

She engages stakeholders as co-researchers because she believes they are fundamental for developing and implementing transdisciplinary evidence-based solutions to address complex and adaptive health and care problems. She is passionate about care and social networks, technology, and methods influencing behavioural change. Dr Pinero is an advocate for evidence-based research as a member of the JBI Evidence Implementation Network and a member of two JBI expert reference groups (Cardiovascular and Aged Care).

Since 2020, Dr. Pinero de Plaza has been:

Publishing and contributing to knowledge via 65+ research outputs, more than 25 Research articles, and publications, several within Q1 Journals and/or prestigious knowledge outlets (i.e., the dark blue C1 Flinders category). Some examples are:

  • Nature (humanities and social sciences communications)
  • BMJ open,
  • European Heart Journal - Quality of Care and Clinical Outcomes,
  • The International Journal of Qualitative Methods,
  • Health Research Policy and Systems,
  • Frontiers,
  • The Journal of Clinical Nursing,
  • JBI evidence synthesis,
  • Nursing Philosophy,
  • Telemedicine and e-Health,
  • Health Promotion International, and others.

Health Equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities: Dr Pinero de Plaza is committed to addressing health disparities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities: in partnership with the South Australian Aboriginal Chronic Disease Consortium and SAHMRI, they led a review focusing on Health System Enablers and Barriers to Continuity of Care for First Nations Peoples Living with Chronic Disease, funded by the SA Department for Health and Wellbeing. It has been published as an article and a full report for national decision-makers.

She has achieved significant recognition nationally and internationally through her diverse contributions to research. Her portfolio includes publishing research book chapters, abstracts, posters, commissioned reports, review articles, comments/debates, videos, data management plans, and various dissemination pieces. This extensive activity has earned her several distinctions, prizes, and awards, exemplified by her receipt of the Vice-President & Executive Dean's Awards in 2021 and 2022, recognizing her embodiment of university values in research.

In addition to her academic achievements, she has held nine external positions and affiliations, through which she has conducted over 21 research activities with global exposure. Her efforts in dissemination have reached a broad audience, including more than 1900 Twitter followers and over 4380 LinkedIn followers, as well as engagement on other platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

Her ability to attract research funding is notable, having secured over AUD 1,720,102.3 in resources. This includes outstanding grants such as:

  1. Role as AI and evaluator of AI tool for the NHMRC-funded project "Optimising Evidence Translation in Emergency Management for Suspected Cardiac Chest Pain (RAPIDx)," receiving A$ 1,230,191.40.
  2. Involvement as AI and evaluator of virtual care in the "Safe@Home: Telemonitoring and Virtual Care for Chronic Disease Management" project, securing A$ 1,096,999.00 from NHMRC and A$ 350,000.00 from NALHN.
  3. Role as AI and disseminator for the NHMRC-funded project "Cardiac Rehabilitation Especially for Women (CREW)," with funding of A$ 150,000 from The Hospital Research Foundation.
  4. Principal Investigator for the "Cardiac Rehabilitation for All (CR4ALL)" project, receiving A$ 16,660.20 from the Flinders Foundation.
  5. Senior Chief Investigator for evaluating rapid changes in allied health and nursing practice in response to COVID-19, receiving A$ 49,891 from the Flinders - CFI Grant.
  6. Recognition as a CI-A in the Frail, Homebound and Bedridden People Project (#FHBP) under the Accelerator Scheme from the Caring Futures Institute, receiving $4000.

Her track record demonstrates her leadership, innovation, and commitment to advancing knowledge and improving healthcare outcomes.

Implementing: As a member of the CI team for CR4ALL, she spearheaded the implementation of a novel care pathway within the iCCnet telehealth service. This initiative aimed to bolster attendance and completion rates of Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) among socioeconomically disadvantaged patients residing in regional, rural, and remote areas of Australia. Collaborating closely with professionals, the CR4ALL team pioneered a co-design approach to tailor CR4ALL to meet the unique needs of these communities while also actively contributing insights to inform CR telehealth initiatives in South Australia.

Furthermore, she played a pivotal role in a sub-project of CR4ALL, specifically targeting women, which was generously funded by the Hospital Research Foundation (CREW). Her involvement extended to membership in a literature review club dedicated to exploring technology integration into cardiac rehabilitation practices. The outcomes of their research were instrumental in guiding the implementation of critical initiatives, including:

  • CHAP - Country Heart Attack Prevention is a partnership supported by the NHMRC. @nhrmc partnership
  • CREW - Cardiac Rehab Especially for Women, backed by the Hospital Research Foundation. @hosp_research
  • CR4ALL - Cardiac Rehab 4 All, facilitated by the Flinders Foundation. @FlindersFound

Through her multifaceted contributions, she actively shaped the landscape of cardiac rehabilitation, ensuring equitable access and optimal outcomes for diverse patient populations.

Delivering awareness: Her contributions to the Frail, Homebound, and Bedridden People (#FHBP) research program have reverberated in policymaking circles, evidenced by citations in two submissions to the Australian Senate and inclusion in training materials on violence against women published by the Government of Queensland. Internationally, she is esteemed as an expert, having been cited over ten times in Q1 journals through peer-reviewed publications. Additionally, her expertise extends to peer-reviewing various National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Grant Schemes and ARIIA Grants, offering impartial and expert advice to aid funding decisions.

Dr. Pinero de Plaza's conference presentations have been further recognized through publication as book chapters, with one presentation disseminated by the World Health Organization as part of the latest literature on the pandemic. Furthermore, her interdisciplinary work, blending socio-scientific inquiry with artistic expression, has garnered acknowledgment from The Australian Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation of People with Disability (SUB.001.02754 & SUB.001.02754), underscoring the far-reaching impact of her research and advocacy efforts. 

The ENLIGHTEN online exhibition has more than 2872 views and downloads. In a similar field, she collaborates with Spanish and Colombian researchers on projects measuring fundamental care and creating predictive modelling to evaluate and deliver better healthcare services (e.g., by creating new approaches). She is an active member of the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health, Patient Reported Measures work

Leading: At the forefront of the RAPIDx AI initiative, she is co-leading the consumer engagement and knowledge translation efforts within a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of computer algorithms in enhancing care provision for patients presenting symptoms potentially linked to cardiac issues in hospital emergency departments. Introducing the PROLIFERATE evaluation framework and method, she obtained ethical approval for its implementation across 12 hospitals in South Australia. This framework serves to refine the integration of AI technologies into clinical workflows, ultimately enhancing patient care delivery.

Her expertise extends to consumer engagement processes in health research, demonstrated by her national contributions. She was crucial in co-creating the Consumer Engagement Framework and Consumer Register at SAHMRI, underscoring her commitment to inclusivity and collaboration in research endeavours. Additionally, her involvement in the Expert Reference Group of the NHMRC CRE APPRISE for three years has been instrumental in informing discussions on critical issues, such as the delineation between research and response to COVID-19. Her insights have facilitated the alignment of APPRISE priorities with other entities while also addressing challenges related to data sharing, multidisciplinary collaboration, and engagement across various sectors. Moreover, she has advocated for considering research outcomes beyond academic publication, highlighting the importance of broader societal impact and dissemination strategies.

Academic roles

  • Currently, Research Fellow. Caring Futures Institute, College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Flinders University. 
  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Adelaide/ Flinders University (2019-2021); NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence.
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Field of Research 111712 –Health Promotion; SEO: 920401- Behaviour and Health. Funded: Australian Postgraduate Award. Deakin University (2013-2017).
  • Master of Marketing Science, upgraded to PhD, Funded: Australian Postgraduate Award and a top-up scholarship from MARS/UNISA. University of South Australia (2010-2013).
  • Postgraduate training: Social Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Religion, and Ecology. Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC). Advanced Studies Centre (2004-2006).
  • Licentiate, a degree equivalent in Australian standards to a master's in Social Communication as it includes 1-year research thesis embedded into a 5-year coursework degree, which is one step below a doctorate - under European standards - (Social Communication, Journalism, Public Relations & Advertising)Andrés Bello Catholic University (1993-1998).

Honours, awards, and grants:

Education/Academic qualification

Graduate Certificate, 200h Master Yoga Teaching Certification , 200h Master Yoga Teaching Certification - Peak Physique / Yoga Alliance


Award Date: 6 May 2019

PhD, The semiconscious choice of food as a potential obesogenity marker, Deakin University

Award Date: 14 Feb 2017

Master, Master of Marketing Science, upgraded to PhD, Funded: Australian Postgraduate Award., UniSA upgraded to PhD at Deakin University, Funded: Australian Postgraduate Award.


Award Date: 11 Feb 2013

Postgraduate training: Social Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, Religion and Ecology, Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research (IVIC). Advanced Studies Centre (CEA).


Award Date: 30 Dec 2006

Master, Licentiate - degree similar to master's degree in Mass Communication -Social Communication, Journalism, Public Relations & Advertising., Andrés Bello Catholic University


Award Date: 11 Dec 1998

External positions

JBI Global Aged Care Expert Reference Group, JBI Global

25 Aug 2023 → …

Member and researcher, International Learning Collaborative

4 Apr 2023 → …

Affiliate participant of The Australian Network for Social Network Analysis (ANSNA)

2023 → …

JBI Global Cardiovascular Expert Reference Group, JBI Global

5 Apr 2022 → …

Member as Early Career Researcher, Australian Association of Gerontology Ltd


JBI Adjunct Staff, Centre for Remote Health. Global reach - collaborator | Joanna Briggs Institute

2021 → …

JBI Global Cardiovascular Expert Reference Group, JBI Global

2021 → …

Knowledge Translation and Research Advisor to the Board, ME Group Australia


Adjunct Staff, Mparntwe Centre for Evidence in Health, Flinders University: A JBI Centre of Excellence

2021 → …

Member, Patient Reported Measures Research Collaborative - The Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health (CEIH) and Health Translation SA (HTSA)


Member of the JBI Evidence Implementation Network, JBI EVIDENCE IMPLEMENTATION

2019 → …

Member of The Health Consumer Advocacy Network of South Australia , Health CAN SA - the Network

2019 → …

Research Fellow , National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centre of Research Excellence: Frailty and Healthy Ageing

2019 → …

Community & Consumer Engagement Advisor -Community & Consumer Engagement Committee, Adelaide BioMed City Partner


Community & Consumer Engagement Advisor -Expert Reference Group, NHMRC CRE APPRISE



  • Registered

Research Areas

  • Health sciences
  • Knowledge translation and implementation science
  • Digital health and technology
  • Fundamental care


  • RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
  • Health Promotion
  • Digital Health
  • Habitual behaviour
  • Conditioning
  • knowledge translation
  • Fundamentals of care
  • Cardiac Health
  • ageing
  • Frailty
  • First Nation People
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Artificial intelligence
  • HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
  • Behaviour
  • Equity
  • Inclusion
  • Marginalisation
  • Knowledge Translation
  • Implementation Science
  • Evaluation
  • Ageing
  • Digital Health
  • First Nation People
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Social Network Analysis
  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • Knowledge Translation
  • implementation science
  • Evaluation
  • First Nation People
  • Digital Health
  • Fundamentals of care
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Social Network Analysis


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