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Steering Committee


Steering Committee

Our steering committee is comprised of a pair of individuals; one from a U.S. institution and one from an LMIC institution; both with significant expertise in each research area. In addition to contributing to activities in these specific areas, the Steering Committee members assist in the recruitment and selection of candidates and provide regular inputs on the training program.

INSIGHT Steering Committee Research Areas

Select a research area to see the LMIC and US leads:

(LMIC is listed first)

Adolescents and Young Women Population

Carolyn Bolton Moore, MBBCh, MSc
Chief Medical Officer at CIDRZ

Ms. Bolton Moore brings expertise in both behavioral and HIV research with adolescents and young women. She is leading studies to develop an integrated package; including sexual and reproductive health, HIV prevention, and HIV treatment; to be delivered using social support and networking.

Cassidy Claassen

Cassidy W. Claassen, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Interim Country Director & Technical Director, UMB Zambia, Chief of Party, CIRKUITS Project, Director, Ciheb MKM Global Health Fellowship Center for International Health, Education, and Biosecurity (Ciheb), Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine

As an infectious disease and public heath physician with a lifelong dedication to improving health in Africa, the main focus of my career is developing access to infectious disease treatment in resource-limited settings. I focus primarily on HIV care and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly health system capacity development. I am currently based full-time in Lusaka, Zambia where we utilize community-based interventions to increase access to HIV services. I also work as an infectious disease consultant and lecturer at the University Teaching Hospital of Lusaka, where I see patients and instruct residents in advanced ID/HIV medicine. I also work in improving access to key populations in Africa, working with MSM and CSW communities in Zambia and IVDU in Kenya. Finally, I have a strong interest in international medical education and oversee an international health rotation for fellows, residents, and students to rotate with our team here in Zambia.

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Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases Track

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S. Adrei Steyn, PhD
Senior Scientist at AHRI,

Dr. Steyn leads studies in developing novel tools and approaches for studying M.tuberculosis bioenergetics and examining immunometabolism and pathogenesis of TB.

Miriam K. Laufer, MD, MPH
DMR Director

Miriam Laufer, MD, MPH
Professor of Pediatrics 
Associate Dean for Student Research and Education
University of Maryland School of Medicine

Dr. Laufer leads studies using molecular, genomic, and immunological approaches in controlling the burden of malaria and other infectious diseases that frequently cause co-infection. She currently is PI on mentored career award supporting young investigators and leads a Fogarty-funded Global Infectious Diseases Training grant to support African PhD student and post-docs in vector biology and molecular epidemiology.

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Health Care Systems

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Pius Tih, PhD, MPH
Director of Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Service

Dr. Tih leads the largest health system network in Cameroon and is PD/PI of a PEPFAR-funded project to support women and children. His research focuses on cost-effectiveness and efficiency of systems and optimizing service provider education.

Olakunle Alonge, MD, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor of Health Policy and Organization and Director Sparkman Center for Global Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Dr. Alonge's expertise is in implementation science and health systems research applied in diverse global health settings working directly with various stakeholders including government, policymakers, service providers, and communities. His research focuses on supporting effective implementation of health system strengthening strategies and complex health initiatives for addressing both communicable, non-communicable diseases and injuries, and knowledge translation to address vaccine-preventable diseases and health security in low and middle-income countries. His research and practice have been funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Institutes of Health, the World Health Organization, USAID, United Kingdom Department for International Development, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and others.


Margaret C. McDonald PhD, MFA
Vice Chancellor for academic and global affairs, health sciences, University of Pittsburgh and Associate Professor of epidemiology, School of Public Health, and Associate Professor of psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. McDonald coordinates research, educational, and public affairs initiatives within the health sciences schools and with other University units, provides expert support to University leadership, and advances health-related collaborations with academic institutions in other countries. Dr. McDonald has been a member of the project development team for initiatives in countries in Europe, Asia and the Pacific Islands, Africa, and Central and South America. Projects have ranged from advising on medical education pedagogy, research capacity development, consulting on specific public health or health care issues, to funded research collaborations and faculty and student exchanges. Her research interests are health and risk communication, communication to effect health behavior change, and the global burden of mental illness and its associated stigma.

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Nadia Sam-Agudu

Nadia A. Sam-Agudu MD, CTropMed
Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UMB and Senior Technical Advisor for Pediatric and Adolescent HIV, Institute of Human Virology Nigeria

Dr. Sam-Agudu focuses on implementation science for sustainable health interventions in African countries, including HIV and sexual and reproductive health among adolescents and young women.  She is a member of the NIH/Fogarty Adolescent HIV Prevention and Treatment Implementation Science Alliance (AHISA). She also provides technical expertise to the WHO as a member of the Pediatric ART Working Group, and co-chair of the Adolescent HIV Service Delivery Working Group. 


Alexander Kay, MD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Associate Director of the Baylor College of Medicine Global TB Program

Dr. Kay focuses on applied clinical, diagnostic, and epidemiologic research to inform care for children and adolescents living with HIV and with HIV associated TB. He currently holds a Fogarty International Research Scientist Development Award and works closely with colleagues on multinational research projects at Baylor Children’s Foundation Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda. He has led multiple systematic reviews to inform World Health Organization Child Tuberculosis Guidelines.

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Implementation and Dissemination Science

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Patrick Dakum, MBBS, MPH
CEO of IHVN and Associate Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Dakum focuses on implementation science and infectious diseases intersectionality with aging. He is PI of multiple implementation grants from the CDC and the USAID.

Mogomotsi Matshaba
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics at BCM
Executive Director, Botswana-Baylor Children's Clinical Centre of Excellence Trust

Dr. Matshaba worked as a medical officer in Botswana from 2005-2008, during which time he spent one year as a physician-in-training at the Botswana-Baylor Children's Clinical Center of Excellence. He has postgraduate training in HIV management, trauma management, pediatric nutrition, gastroenterology and hepatology, and completed his residency training in pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in 2011.  

Dr. Matshaba serves as the PI for several NIH funded studies including the Collaborative African Genomics Network (CAfGEN) which is a multi-country genomics study focused on HIV/AIDS and comorbidities. Dr. Matshaba also serves as the Scientific Advisor for the Government of Botswana’s Presidential COVID 19 Task Force. In this role he advises the Government of Botswana on appropriate science based approaches to the COVID 19 pandemic.

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Key Populations

Sylvia Adebajo, MD, PhD
Senior Scientist at IHVN and Director for Maryland Global Initiative Nigeria

Dr. Adebajo pioneered the first bio-epidemiological study using respondent sampling technique in Nigeria. Her research focuses on interventions in HIV prevention and treatment using participatory-based approaches with female sex workers, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs.

Henna Budhwani, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB); Director of Caribbean Programs, UAB Sparkman Center for Global Health

Dr. Budhwani is a social and implementation scientist who conducts studies to address the causes and consequences of health disparities among stigmatized populations. Her research agenda is informed by sociological constructs, guided by human rights frameworks, and adopts a multi-dimensional view of public health and clinical care inequities. Dr. Budhwani has worked with the following key populations in Latin American and the Caribbean: gay, bi, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM, MSM) also referred to as sexual minority men (SMM), transgender women, cisgender and transgender sex workers, migrant workers, adolescents, and emerging adults.

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Laboratory Science


Alash’le Abimiku, PhD
Director of the International Research Center of Excellence at IHVN

Dr. Abimiku investigates the role of infants’ microbiome on mothers’ breastmilk microbiota in modifying immune responses to pediatric vaccines.  She currently is PI on three NIH-funded grants, two of which are funded under the NIH H3Africa common fund initiative, and two CDC-funded grants in laboratory system strengthening.  She was recently appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Nicaise Ndembi, PhD
Associate Professor at UMB

Dr. Ndembi focuses on molecular virology to implement genomics capacity. His research interests include vaccine research especially understanding protective immune responses and genomic epidemiology with a focus on HIV diversity and resistance to antiretroviral therapy. Dr. Ndembi is Chief Science Advisor to the Africa CDC Director. He leads the Africa CDC’s Partnerships for African Vaccine Manufacturing (PAVM) and Vaccine Strategy in Africa.

Dr. Ndembi is a graduate of Kanazawa University School of Medicine, Department of Viral Infection and International Public Health, Japan and also a Research Professor within the same Institution. He is a Principal Investigator on numerous grants including US National Health Institute (NIH). He has authored/co-authored more than 150 publications in peer-reviewed and high impact factor journals. He is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Public Health in Africa (JPHIA), AIDS Research and Therapy (ARTY), and serves on various WHO and US CDC Advisory Groups

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Male Population

Robert Paulino-Ramirez, MD
Director and Lecturer at the Institute of Tropical Medicine and Global Health at Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE)

Dr. Paulino-Ramirez is Full Professor of the Chair of Tropical Medicine and Global Health at the School of Medicine of the Universidad Iberoamericana-UNIBE, and Clinical Associate Professor at Michigan State University (MSU). Former Scientific Director of the Committee for Emergency and Health Management COVID-19. He received his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), a postgraduate degree in Molecular Microbiology from Michigan State University (MSU), and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases and HIV from Presbyterian Hospital, New York city, Weil-Cornell Medical College. Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom, Master in Higher Education and Management, and Specialization on Biostatistics from John Hopkins University. Dr. Paulino-Ramírez has been a principal investigator in numerous epidemiological and clinical studies exploring the interactions of HIV / AIDS and other STIs in marginalized populations. He led the first implementation pilot for PrEP in the DR and conducted several epidemiological studies on Trans and MSM populations. Dr. Paulino-Ramirez established a diagnostics facility for COVID-19 at UNIBE and has been analyzing variant distributions of SARS-CoV-2 in the DR. 

He is a member of the Dominican Academy of Medicine, the International AIDS Society, the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, the National Geographic Society, the American Virology Society, and the American Association of HIV Specialists. Has been awarded 2018 Health Scientist of the year by the Dominican Government, and UNIBE’s 2019 and 2021 Researcher of the year, and 2022 Award by the Panamerican Infectious Disease Society in HIV Research. 

Research Interests: Medical Virology, HIV / AIDS, Endemic Arboviruses, Emerging Pathogens (SARS-CoV-2, and Flavivirus), and Global Health.

Lynn Matthews, MD
Associate Professor at UAB

Dr. Matthews studies strategies to engage men in health services with a special focus on reducing HIV transmission in heterosexual couples. As an NIH investigator, she designed a R34 study to promote the uptake of and adherence to ART with HIV-infected men who want to have a child with a stable, uninfected partner.

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Maternal Neonatal Child Health Population

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Mark Cotton, MBChB, PhD
Professor and Head of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stellenbosch University

Dr. Cotton leads clinical and vaccine research in HIV and other infectious diseases (TB, RSV) among children. He is the PI of the SU Clinical Trial Unit with a focus on tuberculosis and HIV. He is also affiliated with the International Maternal Pediatric Adolescent ADS Clinical Trials and the Pediatric European Networks for Treatment of AIDS networks.

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Alan Tita, MD, PhD
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Dean for Global and Women’s Health at UAB

Dr. Tita leads the Cameroon Health Initiative at UAB, a multidisciplinary venture to improve health care conducting clinical and observational studies that influence practice and policy, including studies on the optimal timing of cesarean delivery and use of adjunctive azithromycin for cesarean delivery prophylaxis.

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Mental Health

Smita Deshpande MD
Professor (Research) at Department of Psychiatry, St John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, India.

Dr Deshpande’s research interests include autism screening and evaluation, schizophrenia genetics, clinical trials, psychosocial research, disability and rehabilitation, tobacco cessation, yoga for cognitive enhancement in schizophrenia and Implementation research. She helped develop the Indian Scale for Assessment of Autism (ISAA), co-authored the Tobacco Cessation Guidelines for Government of India, and contributed for developing ICMR human research guidelines for vulnerable groups.

Jessica Magidson, PhD

Jessica Magidson, PhD
Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, University of Maryland

Dr. Magidson focuses on evaluating behavioral interventions to address substance use in the context of medical and psychiatric comorbidity in SSA.

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Non-Communicable Diseases

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Mansoor Saleh, MD
Professor and Founding Director of the Cancer Centre at Aga Khan University, Nairobi

Dr. Saleh leads the development, conduct, and oversight of clinical trials involving monoclonal antibodies, genetically engineered vaccine, and various cytotoxic chemotherapies including practice-changing therapies e.g., Gemzar/Abraxane in SSA.

Isabel Scarinci, PhD
Professor, Vice-Chair for Global and Rural Health, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Senior Advisor for Globalization and Cancer in the O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at UAB

Dr. Scarinci leads community-based participatory research and development, implementation and evaluation of behavioral interventions in cancer prevention and control in low-resource settings, with a particular focus on cervical cancer and tobacco control. She is also currently Co-Leader of Training/Education for the UAB Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center and Center for Addiction and Pain Prevention and Intervention.

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