Featured Researchers

Meet Our Members

Sylvia Agbih

PhD candidate, Bielefeld University

Focus: Refugee health, migration, health care ethics, philosophical anthropology, inter-cultural studies and racism

Research: Sylvia’s current work as philosopher in the interdisciplinary graduate school FlüGe - challenges of global refugee migration for the German health care system - is concerned with social and health-related inequalities for asylum seekers. In this context Sylvia is working on a critical reflection of concepts of vulnerability, and tries to understand migration and racism as social determinants of health.

Which historical figure would you invite to dinner? James Baldwin

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Prof. Dr. Dr. med. Till Bärnighausen

Alexander von Humboldt Professor for Global Health, Director of Heidelberg Institute of Global Health (HIGH), Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital, Heidelberg University

Focus: Population health interventions, health systems, randomized controlled trials, causal inference, design research, implementation science, data science

Research: Till’s research focuses on identifying, designing and testing novel interventions to boost population health, addressing prevention and treatment needs for major diseases such as HIV, diabetes, hypertension and depression. He has led more than 30 large-scale population-based and health systems randomized controlled trials and more than 100 quasi-experiments in Africa, Asia and Europe. His work has also contributed to our understanding of the major structural and behavioral drivers of population health and he has contributed novel applied methods for public health and health systems research.

What advice do you offer to aspiring researchers? (i) master methods from disparate disciplines, (ii) work with people from diverse backgrounds, (iii) carefully craft your pictures and papers

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Prof. Dr. Dr. Sören Becker

Director of the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Universitätsklinikum des Saarlandes

Focus:  Infection diagnostics, neglected tropical diseases, bacterial infections and and multi-resistant pathogens

Research: Sören has had vast experience in collaborative clinical and diagnostic research work in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and South Asia, with a focus on strongyloidiasis and other neglected tropical diseases. His training and education in infectious disease epidemiology, microbiology and virology has influenced his expansive research, which is especially concerned with infections in low-income settings. Throughout the pandemic, Sören has also been active in communicating scientific developments to the public, including clarifying common questions about vaccines.

What do you do for fun? Play with my son, read, run, travel(hopefully again once the pandemic is under control)

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Prof. Peter Boor, MD, PhD

Senior consultant pathologist, Uniklinik Aachen

Focus:  Pathology, digital pathology, artificial intelligence & deep learning, chronic kidney disease, fibrosis

Research: Peter is the Chair and Heisenberg Professor of Translational Nephropathology, head of Digital Pathology and Electron Microscopy Facility, and group leader of the LaBooratory of Nephropathology. His team focuses on development of AI and particularly deep learning algorithms for augmented histopathological diagnostics. His team also focuses on mechanisms, novel diagnostic and therapeutic options for renal fibrosis and chronic kidney disease (CKD), a disease affecting about 10% of the world’s population.

What book do you recommend to our community? Rolf Dobelli, "The Art of Thinking Clearly"

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Prof. Dr. Mizeck Chagunda

Professor and Chair Animal Breeding and Husbandry in the Tropics and Subtropics, University of Hohenheim

Focus:  Agriculture, nutrition, and health

Research: Mizeck’s research focuses on developing livestock systems that are efficient, sustainable, and those that protect the environment while contributing to human food- and nutritional security for a healthy future. Most recently, his research has informed animal breeding and husbandry practices that improve productivity, reduce disease and produce wholesome products while mitigating greenhouse gas emissions from ruminants in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa.

Which historical figure would you invite to dinner? I would invite one of the three ladies whose contribution to science was recently featured in the movie, “Hidden Figures”. Katherine Johnson, the American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics at NASA were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights.

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Prof. Dr. Detlev Ganten

President World Health Summit

Focus:  Molecular medicine, genetics, genomics, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases; evolutionary medicine and global health.

Research: As a researcher, Detlev identified basic mechanisms of the development of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension, leading to more effective prevention and treatments.
As the founding president of the World Health Summit and the “M8 Alliance”, he has created a unique space for thousands of experts to come together to address global health challenges and support informed solutions.

Which book would you recommend to our community?  Karl Popper: The Logic of Scientific Discovery

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Prof. Dr. Elke Hertig

Professor of Regional Climate Change and Health, University of Augsburg

Focus: Regional/ local climate change, statistical downscaling, temperature extremes, vector-borne diseases, urban ecology

Research: Elke operates at the intersection of health science and the environment and was recently appointed to a Heisenberg-Professorship at the University of Augsburg. A geographer by training, Elke has expanded her research to include the health impacts of climatic factors (e.g. heat, ozone pollution) under current and future climate change. Her statistical models help provide a scientific basis for guidelines, including for the WHO.

Which historical figure would you invite to dinner? I would invite Alexander von Humboldt to dinner. He was a truly interdisciplinary researcher and has inspired many disciplines. It would be most interesting to hear about his expeditions and how he built his huge scientific and social network. 

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Prof. Dr. med. Achim Hörauf

Director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology, Universitätsklinikum Bonn

Focus: immunology, microbiology, parasitology and infectious diseases, epidemiology

Research:  Achim’s research on filarial diseases, a group of neglected tropical diseases, has crucially advanced antibiotic development. His discovery of the Wolbachia-filaria endosymbiotic relationship and the corresponding efficacy of readily available antibiotics on filarial diseases brought about numerous, similar clinical trials. His team also developed a new antibiotic, Corallopyronin A, which fights human filariasis, multi-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, as well as Neisseria gonorrheae and Chlamydia trachomatis, amongst other microorganisms. Achim has worked closely with pharmaceutical companies through a Gates Foundation-funded platform, as well as with DNDi (Drugs for Neglected Disease Initiative) to advance antihelminthic drugs.

What piece of advice has stuck with you? Do not speculate on impact factors which your research might achieve, but try to achieve real impact.

Felix Holl

Research Associate at the DigiHealth Research Group Institute, Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences; PhD candidate, LMU Munich

Focus:  Medical informatics, global health informatics, e-health, information management, telemedicine

Research: Felix uses mHealth applications and health informatics to improve both health care access and services. His current work at DigiHealth examines the status and potential of digitalization in health care. He is an advocate for the field of Global Health Informatics. This work is complemented by his doctoral studies in medical informatics.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given? To try to be mindful of the situation you are in and not be preoccupied with other things. It’s easy to get distracted by messages buzzing in your phone during a meeting, especially during the current online meeting era. But giving the person you’re interacting with the full attention improves professional and personal relationships and leads to better outcomes.

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Prof. Dr. Nils Hoppe

Professor of Ethics in Law in the Life Sciences, Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences and Dean of Research, Leibniz University Hannover

Focus:  Bioethics, health law, health policy, research governance

Research: Nils’ academic career began with his early studies of medical law and human rights law, developed further with his PhD in law, and has expanded to include bioethics. His interdisciplinary expertise has informed his work as a long-standing external ethics expert for the European Commission as well as his research concerning bioethics and law in the practice of science. Nils has a particular interest in the construction of governance frameworks that reconcile conflicting rights in science and technology.

If you could live two lives what would your non-research career be? I do live two lives! I have a non-research career as a lawyer in London and very much enjoy helping to solve complex legal problems. If I had not become a researcher, I would have stayed in the practice of law full time.

Prof. Dr. Lena Maier-Hein

Head of the Division Computer Assisted Medical Interventions, German Cancer Research Center (DFKZ)

Focus: Surgical data science, computational biophotonics, machine learning

Research:  Lena has spent her career at the intersection of computer science and medicine, harnessing the power of data to improve healthcare practices. Lena and the research team she leads candidly state their mission to get “the right information to the right person at the right time.” Recently her team has been working on innovative ways to effectively collect and analyze data to inform better surgery practices. 

What’s the best advice you have been given? Although, or because I have trouble adhering to it: "The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything – including exciting projects and other cool stuff." -Sebastian Wirkert adapted from Warren Buffet

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Prof. Dr. Stefanie Klug, MPH

Full Professor and Chair of Epidemiology, Technical University of Munich

Focus:  Disease prevention, cancer epidemiology, molecular epidemiology, statistical methods, systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses, human papillomaviruses (HPV) and cervical cancer

Research: Stefanie’s research is dedicated to preventing chronic diseases. Her work draws largely on conducting population-based studies as well as secondary data analyses, supported by advanced epidemiological and biostatistical methods. Insights from her research have directly impacted health policy in Germany, for example, regarding cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination.

Which historical figure would you invite to dinner? I would love to have dinner with John Snow, a 19th century British physician and early epidemiologist. It would be great to learn about his thoughts and ideas of using statistical and epidemiological methods to investigate, document, analyze and in the end prevent outbreaks of Cholera before even knowing that a bacterium caused the epidemics.

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Prof. Dr. Iris-Tatjana Kolassa

Head of the Department of Clinical and Biological Psychology, Institute of Psychology and Education, Universität Ulm

Focus: Traumatic stress, childhood maltreatment, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, depression, gene x environment interactions, immunometabolism and mental health, developmental programming, aging and dementia, life-style psychology (exercise, diet, relaxation)

Research: Iris draws on the fields of clinical psychology, molecular biology and neuroscience in her research on chronic and traumatic stress. Her work links stress and secondary illnesses, such as the premature onset of age-related diseases. Her approach truly builds bridges across disciplines and leads to new insights on the role of immunometabolism in the pathophysiology of mental disorders including developmental programming of intergenerational trauma. Her research has shed light on the possible reversibility of degeneration due to stress.

What do you do for fun? I practice and enjoy choral and solo classical singing and spend as much free-time as possible with my kids.

Dr. Daniel Opoku

Senior Research Fellow, Department Health Care Management, Berlin University of Technology

Focus: digital health, mobile health, health systems

Research:  Daniel recently completed his doctoral thesis, which was concerned with improving non-communicable disease management using innovative digital health technologies as well as strengthening the health system in his home-country Ghana. Through a capacity building in health systems research and management, Daniel continues to support knowledge exchange between researchers and students from TU Berlin and KNUST in Ghana. His ongoing research concentrates on illuminating the potential and feasibility of mHealth interventions for strengthening health care systems, with a main focus on managing NCDs in sub-Saharan Africa.

What piece of advice has stuck with you? Question everything.

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Prof. Dr. François Paquet-Durand

Associate Professor and Project Lead, Institute for Ophthalmic Research, University of Tübingen

Focus: Ophthalmology, cell biology, retinal diseases, pharmacology, biochemistry, affordable medicines, neurology

Research: François is interested in understanding neuronal cell death mechanisms and developing new ways of preventing neurodegeneration, particularly in the context of rare hereditary retinal diseases. His research has contributed to the finding that non-apoptotic cell death mechanisms appear to play a preeminent role in neurodegenerative diseases that cause blindness. Ultimately, this knowledge may support the clinical translation of novel treatments for blinding diseases. In the context of Global Health Research, he wants to promote the interests of patients suffering from rare diseases in developing countries.

What book do you recommend to our community? "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus" by Charles C. Mann

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Prof. Dr. Katharina Schaufler

University of Greifswald, Pharmaceutical Microbiology

Focus:  Pharmaceutical microbiology, antimicrobial resistance, functional and phylogenetic genome analysis, One Health

Research: Katharina is examining factors that contribute to the success of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Her research seeks to characterize resistance, while also investigating virulence and fitness determinants. Ultimately, her research group aims to better understand and to fight successful pandemic pathogens.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given? Don't forget your heart.

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PD Dr. med. Thi Minh Tam Ta

Consultant Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist, Head of the university outpatient clinic for Vietnamese migrants, Co-Head Global Mental Health Working Group, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Focus: Global mental health, migration, culture and medicine, women’s mental health, genetic and sociocultural determinants of psychiatric disorders, interdisciplinarity in research methods

Research:  Tam Ta investigates the interplay of cultural, social, gender and genomic factors on mental health, mental health literacy, mental illness and treatment. Her interdisciplinary psychiatric-anthropological research aims to understand affective efforts of the heterogeneous Vietnamese migrants and transnationals. She established a university cooperation between Charité and Hanoi Medical University and created a national network for mental health in Vietnam. Tam Ta promotes cooperation in Mental Health Research and scientific capacity building in the Global South.

Which historical figure would you invite to dinner? Mrs. Vo Thi Thang, a Vietnamese cultural icon known as the woman with the “Triumphant Smile.”

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Lauren Tonti

PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy

Focus: Public health law & legal epidemiology, social determinants of health, health equity

Research: Lauren draws insights from her background in legal studies and public health to examine health governance in the context of vaccines, maternal mortality and mental health. Her dissertation compares the legal determinants of telehealth quality across jurisdictions. In addition to studying supra-national health institutions, she takes a comparative and multilevel approach to national health systems. Recently Lauren has made valuable contributions regarding the legal and ethical debates emerging around COVID-19 vaccination privileges. 

What book do you recommend to our community? Hard to choose just one!

The New Public Health Law (Scott Burris, Micah L. Berman, Matthew Penn, and Tara Ramanathan Holiday)
Epidemiology and the People's Health: Theory and Context (Nancy Krieger)
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present (Harriet A. Washington)
Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology (Dierdre Cooper Owens)

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Prof. Dr. Ansgar Wübker

Hochschule-Harz and Ruhr-University Bochum, researcher at health department at RWI-Leibniz Institute for Economic Research

Focus: Health economics, applied econometrics, policy evaluation, health care inequity

Research: Ansgar applies his background in economics to policy-relevant issues in health. Broadly speaking, his research analyzes individual health behavior (e.g. cancer prevention), hospital markets and applied econometrics. His research seeks to draw on economic principles to shine light into where we can improve hospital care and inform policy.

What advice do you offer to aspiring researchers? A deep interest in the topic, hard work and a willingness to face challenges head-on are important ingredients for a happy and successful research career.

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Maike Voss

Associate and Project Lead of the Global Health Governance Research Team, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP); part-time PhD student, London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Berlin Office

Focus: Health policy research, political sciences, global health governance, health security

Research: Maike is leading a project at SWP that examines the challenges and opportunities for German global health development policy, with an eye to achieving the sustainable development goals. Ultimately, the group hopes to identify policy-relevant recommendations for German and global health policy in line with the health in all policies approach.

What book do you recommend to our community? One book that I regularly give away to friends and family is "Factfulness" by H. Rosling. This book explains what I spend my working day with and what I worry about. For researchers and for those who want to become one, I recommend "Corpus Delicti" (J. Zeh) and "Biocapitalism" (K. S. Rajan).

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Featured Research

Our Impact

Berlin Institute of Health

Submission by: Jennifer Bencivenga

"Leveraging the digital revolution in Africa, our team developed and launched mTOMADY - a mobile phone-based platform for financial inclusion in healthcare.

We used human-centered design research to develop our solution, and are now conducting randomized controlled trials on it’s impact and value. This research will contribute insights to the global health field that can inform digital interventions for resource-poor communities."

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Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin

Submission by: Prof. Dr. med. Felix Knauf & Rebecca Ingenhof

“Our work contributed to the detection and care of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in rural Uganda. We successfully established a community health worker-based NCD primary care system.

This project underlines the importance of including chronic diseases in global health research. In addition, we placed emphasis on patient-centered education as a key in raising awareness towards NCD prevention.”

Relevant publication: Siddharthan et al. 2016

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German Institute of Human Nutrition (DIfE)

Submission by: Dr. George Soultoukis

"Our team at DIfE will analyze the changes of the transcriptional architecture of the long bone tibia as a function of gender, diet, and age to generate a stimulus-dependent 3D-Bone Atlas of gene expression. Our research will unify principles from Nutritional Science, Molecular Biology, Genomics, and Spatial Bioinformatics for a freely available online tool that will inspire basic and clinical research follow-up studies!"

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Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology – BIPS, Bremen & University of Bremen

Submission by: Dr. Antje Hebestreit & Dr. Antje Hebestreit

"Our research in Zanzibar confirmed that early undernutrition is followed by adult overweight increasing the NCDs risk among Zanzibari. The results helped to bring this Double Burden of Malnutrition into political debate and the scientific discourse resulted in the development of a new curriculum at the State University Zanzibar to prepare health professionals for the projected obesity and NCD rise."

Relevant publications: Nyangasa et al. 2019, Brackmann et al. 2019

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Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Pettenkofer School of Public Health

Submission by: Karin Geffert & Peter von Philipsborn

"Our team analyzed the current policy situation in Germany regarding a healthy food environment. A comparison with international best practice shows room for improvement, especially concerning the regulation of food promotion and the implementation of nutrition standards. These results may help politicians to make decisions for a better, healthier and more sustainable food environment in a global context."

Together with Dr. Antje Hebestreit at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS
Learn more about the PEN project and results.

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Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Pettenkofer School of Public Health

Prof. Dr. Eva Rehfuess

"As a WHO Collaborating Centre for Evidence-Based Public Health, we provide support towards the development of WHO guidelines on public health questions.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been conducting rapid reviews to investigate the effectiveness of travel restrictions, school measures and other interventions. Our work enables evidence-based decisions in challenging times."

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Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Pettenkofer School of Public Health

Submission by: Dr. med. Kerstin Sell

"We’re part of CEBHA+, which focuses on non-communicable diseases and integrated knowledge translation (IKT). By engaging decisionmakers throughout the research process - for example supporting Ugandan partners in collaborating with the local police to update their crash data system - we’re conducting research that is applicable and relevant for Sub-Saharan Africa. We evaluate this IKT approach to understand what works."

Together with Dr. Lisa Pfadenhauer, Jacob Burns, Prof. Eva Rehfuess, LMU Munich, Pettenkofer School of Public Health

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Robert Koch Institute

Submission by: Veronica Briesemeister

"As a result of current worldwide travel restrictions, the Robert Koch Institute developed a series of online training tools for the diagnostics of SARS-CoV-2. The open-source material, available in English, French, and Spanish, includes protocols, movie clips, and presentations.

A starter pack including all necessary reagents was shared with partner laboratories, allowing users to work independently."

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Technical University of Munich

Submission by: Annette Abraham

"Human and animal health in their shared environment are interconnected. Neurocysticercosis, caused by the pork tapeworm Taenia solium, is one example for this One Health perspective. My colleagues and I are contributing through evidence-based treatment guidelines, diagnostic tool developments, epidemiological and clinical data acquisition and capacity building in Africa to improved diagnosis, treatment and control of this possibly eradicable disease."

On behalf of the Center for Global Health (AG Prof. Winkler), Technical University of Munich, CYSTINET-Africa and The Lancet One Health Commission

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University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf

Submission by: Prof. Dr. Mike Mösko

“Linguistically diverse patients have the right to participate in high quality healthcare; qualified interpreters are needed.

Based on a nationwide consensus process our research group developed quality standards and minimum requirements for the qualification of interpreters in Germany and are currently evaluating the BetweenLanguages training program. To promote integration of qualified interpreters we also developed educational films for professionals.”

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Universitätsklinikum Tübingen, Institute of Tropical Medicine

Submission by: Prof. Dr. Thirumalaisamy P. Velavan

"Hepatitis E virus infections (HEV) are transmitted by faecal-oral route and by zoonosis in developing and developed countries respectively. Our studies found that 10% of commercial pork meat products in Germany are contaminated with HEV and high HEV seroprevalence among occupationally exposed in Vietnam, indicating a significant risk of HEV infection globally by exposure and by food consumption."

Relevant publications: Pallerla et al. 2020, Hoan et al. 2019

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