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Dr. Ikeoluwapo O. Ajayi          Nigeria

Dr. Ikeoluwapo Ajayi

Dr. Ikeoluwapo Ajayi

Dr. Ajayi is a Reader/Associate Professor in Epidemiology in the University of Ibadan and Consultant Family Physician in the University College Hospital in Ibadan. She is one of few PhD Epidemiology graduates in Nigeria. Dr. Ajayi is currently the Acting Head of Epidemiology and Medical Statistics, in the Faculty of Public Health, University of Ibadan. In addition to lecturing, Dr. Ajayi conducts operational research evaluating the effectiveness and impact of interventions and health systems.  She has conducted independent projects in Nigeria, and has also participated in multidisciplinary teams including multi-country studies. Her work has focused on cancer, especially in women, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and malaria. Her current major area of research interest is cardiovascular disease prevention. Dr. Ajayi has also supervised and mentored many postgraduate students.

Dr. Sally Akarolo-Anthony          Nigeria

Dr. Sally Akarolo-Anthony

Dr. Sally Akarolo-Anthony

Dr. Anthony is a physician originally from Port-Harcourt, Southern Nigeria. She obtained her medical degree from the University of Ibadan in 2007 and her Masters degree in Clinical Trials from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK. She is currently working on her doctoral degree in Nutritional Epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health, which she expects to complete in Spring 2014. Dr. Anthony’s thesis work is focused on dietary factors, especially magnesium and carbohydrate quality on the risk of stroke. Upon completing her degree, she plans to work with other African investigators to better understand the epidemiology of CVD in Africa, with the goal of reducing the burden of this disease.

 Ms. Olabimpe “Bimpe” Ruth Eseyin          Nigeria

olabimpe eseyin

Ms. Olabimpe “Bimpe” Eseyin

Ms. Eseyin is a Research Coordinator at the Office of Research, Strategic Information and Training, Institute of Human Virology in Abuja, where she coordinates studies into the role of nutrition in non-communicable diseases. Ms Eseyin earned her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.  After a brief research stint at the National Hospital in Abuja, where she fulfilled her National Youth Service, she pursued an MPH degree (Population and Reproductive Health Nutrition) at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria. She subsequently completed her internship, which focused on developing and validating a culturally-sensitive dietary assessment tool. Her special interests are in epidemiology, dietary substitution/intervention and the role of diet and lifestyle factors in the development and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Dr. Fredirick Mashili          Tanzania

Frederick Mashili Croppped

Dr. Mashili is a lecturer in the department of Physiology at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He received his medical degree from the University of Dar es Salaam and his PhD in medical sciences from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Dr. Mashili’s PhD work focused on exercise and nutritional factors that regulate glucose and lipid metabolism in obesity and type 2 diabetes. His main interest is the application of exercise physiology principles in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases in both research and health care. He is involved in a number of studies looking at the effects of physical activity in the control of major cardio-metabolic risk factors in different cohorts in Tanzania. Dr. Mashili is also working with a number of fitness clubs and cardiology clinics around Dar es Salaam,  in trying to bridge the gap between exercise prescription and its delivery. He is currently working to establish an exercise physiology facility that will serve as part of cardiovascular disease-preventive intervention network in the region. Dr Mashili is also working on establishing audio-visual public communication project, aimed at raising the community awareness on cardiovascular health in Tanzania’s major cities.

Samson Okello          Uganda

Samson Okello Cropped

Dr. Samson Okello is currently a clinical lecturer and designate physician in charge of the hypertension clinic at Mbarara University of Science &Technology (MUST) in Uganda.  He received both undergraduate and graduate (internal medicine) training at Mbarara University of Science &Technology.  He is the creator of a blood pressure telemonitoring  system in rural South Western Uganda, a community based initiative for continuous monitoring of blood pressure and education in lifestyle modifications to prevent/control hypertension in underserved rural communities in this region.

His major clinical activity is the care of adult patients with diabetes, hypertension, and their complications and he maintains active research projects focusing broadly on: a) Sustainable ways to improve adherence to CVD medication that would prevent or delay fatal complications in hypertensive and diabetes patients in resource poor settings.  b) Interaction of biological and behavioral factors such as diet and sociocultural factors such as social deprivation, with cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors in resource-limited countries.

Dr. Samson Okello has received numerous teaching accolades in recognition for his skills as an educator as well as his humanistic approach to medicine.

Marina Njelekela          Tanzania

Marina Njelekela

Dr. Marina Njelekela

Dr. Njelekela   is the Executive Director of the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She received her medical degree from the University of Dar es Salaam, her PhD in Human and Environmental Sciences from Kyoto University in Japan, and her Master of Public Health from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Dar es Salaam. Dr. Njelekela’s research is focused on both infectious diseases  and noncommunicable diseases. She is currently involved in piloting the development of two cohorts: a professional cohort of teachers to determine the incidence of NCDs and breast, cervical and prostate cancers, and an urban cohort in Dar es Salaam to document lifestyle, environmental and other exposures that may cause cardiovascular disease. A major goal is to develop strategies for their prevention and control. She began a nationwide campaign to create awareness and screen women for breast and cervical cancer, the leading causes of deaths in female cancers in Tanzania. Dr. Njelekela  has managed several datasets for community-based as well as hospital-based research work from 2003 to date.

Beatrice Wanyara          Kenya

Dr. Beatrice Wanyara

Dr. Beatrice Wanyara

Dr. Wanyara is a native of Nairobi, Kenya, and is currently a graduate researcher with Kenyan-Heart National Foundation. She received her medical degree from the University of Nairobi in 2007 and practiced clinical medicine for one and a half years. She enrolled in a Master program with the University of London International programs and studies in Kenya. Her research interests are in primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases using a lifespan approach. Since 2011, Dr. Wanyara has worked with the Kenyan-Heart National Foundation on health promotion interventions geared towards cardiovascular disease prevention particularly in children. In addition, she has worked on a World Heart Federation (WHF) grant to develop a cardiovascular disease prevention toolkit for low and middle-income countries. Her current research focus is on developing relevant and validated dietary assessment tools for school age children in Kenya.


William Joe          India

Dr. William Joe

Dr. William Joe

Dr. Joe is an Assistant Professor at Institute of Economic Growth, India.  He received his PhD in Economics and MPhil in Applied Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Master of Economics from Goa University, Goa.  His PhD work focused on measurement and interpretation of socioeconomic inequalities in health with empirical applications in the Indian context.

Dr. Joe has been involved in monitoring and evaluation of National Health Mission of India with specific focus on high focus regions in the country.  He is interested in policy research on social determinants of cardiovascular diseases and its risk factors.  Dr. Joe  is currently engaged with research on sources of health care financing and financial protection against cardiovascular diseases.  His research has been published in

Dr. William Joe

international journals such as Social Science and Medicine and Health Policy and Planning.

Jun Li          China

Ms. Jun Li

Ms. Jun Li

Ms. Li is a doctoral candidate in School of Public Health at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China. She currently works as a research assistant in chronic disease epidemiology at Huazhong University. Ms. Li is particularly interested in molecular epidemiology of cardiovascular diseases – specifically, coronary heart disease. She currently works on identifying novel biomarkers that are useful for early detection and treatment of cardiovascular diseases thus enabling early preventive strategies. Ms. Li is currently focused on identifying novel variants and methylation marks for coronary heart disease and its related diseases/traits.

Yuan Lu          China

Ms. Yuan Lu

Ms. Yuan Lu

Ms. Lu is from China, where she completed her undergraduate studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, majoring in Public Health and Economics. During her studies, she collaborated with the Shanghai Ministry of Health and local hospitals on projects related to public health, including investigating doctor-patient relationships, exploring socioeconomic inequalities in access to essential medical care, and evaluating the payment method for village doctors.  Ms. Lu received her MSc Degree in Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2010. She is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Global Health and Population at HSPH.

Ms. Lu’s current research focuses on risk factors and preventive intervention for cardiovascular diseases, specifically 1) the effects of adiposity on coronary heart disease and stroke; 2) the combined effect of the four metabolic risk factors (high blood pressure, serum cholesterol, blood glucose and body mass index) on cardiovascular mortality at the population level; and 3) global estimates of cardio-metabolic risk factor distributions. In the past few years Ms. Lu has been working with the Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborating Group.

Dr. Sanghamitra Pati          India

Dr. Sanghamitra Pati

Dr. Sanghamitra Pati

Dr.  Sanghamitra Pati, a physician turned public health professional, is currently working as Additional Professor at Indian Institute of Public Health, Bhubaneswar under the aegis of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). After graduating from MKCG Medical College, Odisha, She did Master of Public Health at University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, 2001 under Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship. Prior to joining PHFI, she was a faculty member in state medical colleges and also adjunct faculty in nursing, pharmacy and physiotherapy colleges. She has received AAUW (American association of university women) International Fellowship (2002), Asia Pacific Cancer Society (UICC) Fellowship for school-based tobacco abuse prevention (2004);   International Cancer Research Technology Transfer (UICC) Fellowship for studying tobacco control practice among primary care physicians and International Society for Infectious Diseases Fellowship at National Institutes of Health, Bethesda. She had developed a smoking cessation skill building program for medical students which won her APACT Young Investigator Award in 2007 in Taiwan. She is also the recipient of early career award from International Society of Behavioral Medicine (2010, 2012) for integrating behavioral health sciences into health professional education and primary care practice respectively.

At PHFI, her work focuses on primary care based prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) through capacity building of health care providers. She is involved in teaching Non-communicable and Chronic Diseases, Health Communication and Promotion, Public Health Nutrition, Primary care quality and equity, Implementation research.  Her present research under Lown Scholarship examines how cardiovascular risk reduction (healthy nutrition, tobacco cessation, physical activity) could be effectively integrated into existing health professional education in India. The results would provide critical inputs towards appropriate curricular reforms thus creating a health workforce competent in CVD prevention. In this regard, she believes, Lown Scholar program is an opportunity to transform her research goals into action. She is also doing another study on the prevalence, pattern and correlates of panvascular multimorbidity among primary care patient population and these patients’ health care utilization and health related quality of life.


Dr. Tonatiuh Barrientos-Gutierrez          Mexico

Dr. Tonatiuh Barrientos-Gutierrez

Dr. Tonatiuh Barrientos-Gutierrez

Dr. Barrientos-Gutierrez is from Mexico where he studied medicine and earned a Master Degree in occupational health. Later on he obtained his doctoral degree in epidemiology from the University of Texas at Houston. Currently he is a researcher at the Center for Population Health Research in the National Institute of Public Health in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Dr. Barrientos-Gutierrez is interested in the development of epidemiological evidence to support and prioritize population-wide interventions to prevent cardiovascular disease. He was involved in the evaluation of smoke-free environment policies and, more recently, in the implementation of a tax for sweetened beverages tax in Mexico.

María Daniela Defagó          Argentina

Daniela Defago

Dr. María Daniela Defagó

Dr. Defagó  received her BSc in Nutrition and her PhD in Health Sciences at National University of Córdoba, Argentina, which had a focus in fatty acids and chronic diseases. She completed her postdoctoral training in cardiovascular epidemiology at Tulane University, New Orleans. Her current position is a researcher at the Center for Excellence in Cardiovascular Health (Institute of Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy -IECS-, Buenos Aires) and as professor and researcher at the National University of Córdoba, Argentina.

Dr. Defagó’s work has focused on nutrition and chronic diseases, especially on cardiovascular disease risk factors and novel nutritional biomarkers related to cardiometabolic health.  Currently, she is involved in the analysis of the relationship between dietary patterns and blood pressure in Southern Cone of Latin America.

Dr. Martin Lajous          Mexico

Dr. Martin Lajous

Dr. Martin Lajous

Dr. Lajous graduated from the medical school at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and obtained a Masters Degree in epidemiology in 2004 and a doctoral degree in 2011 from the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH. Currently, he is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Program on Causal Inference at the Harvard School of Public Health. He has been a researcher at the National Institute of Public Health of Mexico since 2004. Dr. Lajous’s work has focused on nutrition and chronic disease, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and breast cancer. In 2006, Dr. Lajous led an effort to establish a large cohort study to investigate the relation between lifestyle factors and major diseases among 115,000 female teachers in Mexico, where he serves as the Scientific Coordinator.

Dr. Carlos Mendivil Anaya          Colombia

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Dr Carlos Mendivil Anaya

Dr. Mendivil is a medical doctor and diabetologist from Bogota. He received his ScD in Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism at the Harvard School of Public Health and is current an Associate Professor at the School of Medicine at the Universidad de los Andes. His research is located at the interface between physiology, basic science and clinical medicine, particularly in the area of diabetes and lipoprotein metabolism. Recently, Dr. Mendivil has analyzed the impact of a very important protein (apolipoprotein E) on modulation of the cardiovascular risk conferred by high concentrations by a negative type of lipoprotein (LDL with apoC-III). Current projects advanced under the sponsorship of his Lown Scholarship include a study of metabolic hormones in bronchoalveolar lavage of normal individuals, and a project on the development of a platform for the evaluation of the overall metabolism of high-density lipoproteins.” In Colombia, he has introduced prevention of cardiovascular disease into his medical school curriculum.  

The Middle East


Tala Al-Rousan        Jordan 

Tala Al Rousan Photo

Dr. Tala Al-Rousan

Dr. Tala Al-Rousan, a Jordanian physician and epidemiologist, received her MD at Cairo University, Egypt and her Master of public health at the University of Iowa.  While in Egypt, she engaged in public health work against female genital mutilation. She was a medical officer with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Yemen establishing a primary care unit and educating on the health trajectories of chewing Khat and Child marriage.

She completed her medical residency at Jordan University Hospital and has pursued a career as a public health p
rofessional. She is an affiliated faculty at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative studying primary care in post conflict settings.

Dr. Al- Rousan’s work has focused on studying the health of vulnerable populations such as elders, minorities and prisoners. Her research focused on examining physical and cognitive health of older adults to inform state and national policies and legislature. She is currently starting a research project in Jordan investigating cardiovascular, mental and other health aspects of Syrian refugees. Her ultimate goal is to enhance a refugee-related research infrastructure in Jordan to help alleviate the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis in her country and worldwide.

Laila Al-Shaar         Lebanon

Ms. Laila Al-Shaar

Ms. Laila Al-Shaar

Ms. Al-Shaar is a Data Manager and Analyst at the Vascular Medicine Program at the Faculty of Medicine, American University of Beirut.  Her group is interested in collecting data on risk factors, family history, and other parameters to better understand cardiovascular disease trends in Lebanon.  Her ultimate goal is to develop and manage a national database on CVD in Lebanon, to assess population trends in CVDs and risk factors.


Pierre A. Zalloua     Lebanon  


Dr. Pierre Zalloua

Dr. Pierre Zalloua, a Lebanese geneticist, was appointed Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at the Lebanese American University (LAU) in October 2013. Dr. Zalloua is a leading authority on the genetics of complex diseases in Middle Eastern populations. His investigative studies have addressed molecular anomalies in people with coronary artery disease (CAD). His focus is to identify CAD susceptibility genes, to study their interaction with the environment, and to correlate these interactions with disease onset and manifestation. In recent years, he has made progress in identifying CAD disease susceptibility gene variants. He is also focusing on how prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke can be a more prominent part of medical education and government policy in Lebanon.   Dr. Zalloua graduated from the American University of Beirut in 1987 with a B.S. in Biology, earned his M.A. in Biological Sciences from San Jose State University, and his Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of California, Davis after which he completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in population genetics at the Harvard School of Public Health.  


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