Professor Megan Vaughan
Megan Vaughan was formerly Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History at the University of Cambridge and Professor of Commonwealth Studies at the University of Oxford. She is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Historical Society.
Megan Vaughan joined the Institute of Advanced Studies in October 2015 as Professor of African History and Health. Her work, which crosses disciplinary boundaries, has focused on the history of medicine and psychiatry in Africa, on the history of famine, food supply and gender relations and on slavery in the Indian Ocean region. Most recently she held a major AHRC award on the history of death and death practices in Eastern and Southern Africa. She is now working on a Wellcome Trust-funded history of epidemiological change in Africa, focusing on ‘chronic’ diseases. She began her career at the University of Malawi and maintains strong links there and elsewhere in the region. She is committed to working collaboratively with African scholars and institutions and is a past President of the African Studies Association of the UK.
Professor Vaughan holds a five-year Wellcome Trust Investigator Award in Medical Humanities to research Chronic Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa: a critical history of an ‘Epidemiological Transition’. The study is being carried out collaboratively with colleagues in Ghana, South Africa and Malawi and aims to produce a clearer historical analysis of the rise in incidence of non-communicable diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and a critical account of epidemiological change, contextualising this within a larger environmental, economic and social history.This is an interdisciplinary project involving public health experts, social epidemiologists, social psychologists, historians and anthropologists.
Among the issues we will be addressing are changing nutrition, the incidence of diabetes mellitus, obesity and ‘metabolic disorders’; the experience of co-morbidities; changing patterns of cancer in Africa; environmental health, ‘exposures’ and the role of epigenetics; the history of hypertension and heart disease and the relationship between infectious and non-communicable diseases. We work closely with the University of Ghana at Legon (Professor Ama de Graft Aikins, Vice-Dean of the School of Graduate Studies); Professor Moffat Nyirenda, Director of the Malawi Epidemiology and Intervention Unit, Lilongwe, Malawi; Medical Humanities at Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), directed by Professor Catherine Burns; and the Africa Centre for Population Health, Mtubatuba, South Africa, directed by Professor Deenan Pillay.
Dr Marissa Mika
At UCL, Marissa Mika works with the research group on critical histories of chronic disease in Africa. Focusing on South Africa, she researches chronicity, co-morbidity, and the synergy between infectious and noncommunicable disease burdens. She emphasises the material practices of making knowledge about morbidity and mortality – from the diagnostic pathology lab, to the autopsy table, to the home testing kit, to the courtroom.
Marissa’s research over the past decade has focused on the politics, practices and contradictions of Africanising biomedical research in eastern Africa. Her book in progress, “Research is Our Resource”: Experiments and Politics at an African Cancer Institute, tells the story of how the Uganda Cancer Institute transformed from a small experimental research facility into the key site of public oncology goods in the Great Lakes region. She is currently collaborating with photographer Andrea Stultiens on a historical and contemporary photo book on the Institute as part of its 50-year anniversary celebrations. In addition to new work in South Africa, she is in the early stages of a project on the technologies of medical waste. ‘Where There is No Incinerator’ examines the thin line between disposability and reuse in health work in sub-Saharan Africa.
Marissa holds a PhD (2015) in History and Sociology of Science from the University of Pennsylvania and an MHS (2007) in International Health from Johns Hopkins. Before teaching and studying African history, she worked in international development and public health. Since 2002, she has lived for extended periods of time in South Africa, Togo and Uganda. Her research has been supported by a variety of institutions including the Social Science Research Council, the Wenner Gren Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
Dr Olutobi Adekunle Sanuade
Olutobi’s research over the past five years has focused on issues of population health and ageing. Specifically, he has researched on: trends of cardiovascular disease mortality in Ghana, using autopsy cases from Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH); burden of stroke in Ghana with specific focus on prevalence, correlates, knowledge, experience and caregiving; community-based cardiovascular disease interventions, and; the health and wellbeing of the elderly in Ghana and Nigeria. As part of the Wellcome-funded project at UCL, Olutobi will be researching the history of chronic and noncommunicable diseases in Ghana, including their interaction with infectious disease and their relationship to socio-economic status and demographic factors. Building on his earlier work, he will engage with health professionals, policy makers, people living with NCDs (and their caregivers) and lay individuals to determine how they make sense of chronic NCDs.
In Ghana Olutobi belongs to a multi-disciplinary research team (Cardiovascular Research Training Team) that includes: two Surgeons, one Radiotherapist, one Dentist, one Hematologist and one Population Scientist. The team is working on a project which looks at the causes of delay in breast cancer treatment at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Ghana. The Project specifically seeks to identify the patient-, healthcare provider- and health system factors that contribute to prolonged waiting time-to-treatment among breast cancer patients at KBTH. This project is funded by Fogarty International Center.
Olutobi just completed his PhD (2016) in Population Studies from the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS), University of Ghana. He also had an MPHIL in Population Studies from the University of Ghana and BSc in Sociology from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He has worked as a Field Editor and Field Supervisor on a longitudinal project on “Urban Health and Poverty Project” in Accra, Ghana. He has also worked as a Research Assistant on a mental health project which examined the psychosocial conditions of people living with mental illnesses (and their caregivers) in Northern Ghana.
Dr Kafui Adjaye-Gbewonyo
Kafui Adjaye-Gbewonyo is a Research Associate with the Chronic Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa team focusing on social demography/epidemiology. Her interests are in the effects of socio-contextual and economic factors on health in African countries. While with the project, she hopes to use epidemiologic methods and models to understand and question the ‘epidemiological transition’ in Sub-Saharan Africa by examining and explaining trends in chronic diseases and their risk factors. This will include quantitatively testing hypotheses regarding change in chronic disease burden in Africa by analysing country-level estimates from sub-Saharan African countries over time, and/or by using microdata from population surveys and censuses conducted recently in Ghana, Malawi, and South Africa. Additionally, she hopes to test qualitative methods for collecting family histories of health and health behaviour through interviews in the project countries to explore chronic disease intergenerationally.
Kafui was previously a research fellow with the Lancet Commission on Reframing Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries for the Poorest Billion where she worked on the assessment of poverty and disease burden. She conducted postdoctoral research with the Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions (IMMANA) programme, examining links between agricultural trade policies and undernutrition in low- and middle-income countries while at the Regional Institute for Population Studies at the University of Ghana. She has also worked as a fellow in cancer prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US. Kafui received her Doctor of Science (2016) in Social and Behavioral Sciences from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health with a focus on social epidemiology, population health and quantitative research methods. Her dissertation examined the relationship between income inequality, social capital and risk factors for cardiovascular disease and depression in South Africa. Her previous training includes a master’s degree in public health and undergraduate studies in environmental science and public policy also from Harvard.