Profiles of ISSAB Board members

Professor Abdallah Daar,  Professor of Clinical Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada

Professor Daar was born in Tanzania. He is Professor of Clinical Public Health; Global Health; and Surgery at the University of Toronto. He is also a member of the United Nations Secretary General’s Scientific Board and UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee. He was the founding Chair of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases and the founding chair of the Advisory Board of the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health.  

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, The World Academy of Sciences for the Advancement of Science in Developing Countries (TWAS), the African Academy of Sciences, the Islamic World Academy of Sciences and the New York Academy of Sciences. He is a Fellow of Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study. 

Abdallah works with three funding agencies: he is a member of the Board of Directors of Genome Canada, a member of the Board of the World Diabetes Foundation, and he chairs the International Scientific Advisory Board of Grand Challenges Canada. 

After medical schools in Uganda and London he went to the University of Oxford where he undertook postgraduate clinical training in surgery and also in internal medicine, obtained a DPhil (PhD) in immunology, and did a fellowship in organ transplantation. He was a clinical lecturer in the Nuffield Dept. of Surgery at Oxford University for several years before going to the Middle East to help start two medical schools. He was the foundation chair of surgery at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman for a decade before moving to the University of Toronto in 2001.

Professor Daar's academic career has spanned biomedical sciences, organ transplantation, surgery, bioethics and global health. He has worked in various advisory or consulting capacities with the UN, the World Health Organization and UNESCO, and was a member of the African Union High Level Panel on Modern Biotechnology. He chaired the 4th External Review of the WHO/WORLD BANK/UNDP/UNICEF Special Programme on Tropical Diseases and Training (TDR).

His international awards include the Patey Prize of the Surgical Society of Great Britain, the Hunterian Professorship of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics of Science and the Anthony Miller Prize for Research Excellence at the University of Toronto. He holds the official world record for performing the youngest cadaveric-donor kidney transplant. 

His major research focus is on the use of life sciences to ameliorate global health inequities, with a particular focus on building scientific capacity and increasing innovation in developing countries, in addition to studying how life sciences technologies can be rapidly taken from “lab to village”. He has published over 350 papers in peer-reviewed journals and as chapters in various books. He has also published six books including the latest one co-authored with Peter Singer, The Grandest Challenge: Taking Life-Saving Science from Lab to Village. He is currently working on his seventh book titled Garment of Destiny.

He has recently been appointed chair of the International Strategic and Scientific Advisory Board (ISSAB) of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA).

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Dr Aida Opoku-Mensah, Special Advisor to Economic Commission for Africa Executive Secretary

Dr Opoku-Mensah is currently working for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as Special Advisor to the ECA Executive Secretary on Post-2015 Development Agenda - now known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) & Agenda 2030, and her responsibilities includes the coordination of activities at the continental and global levels, working with key partners. She was also the Focal Person for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (a successor conference to Monterrey & Doha) held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2015. 

Her previous roles in the same organisation were Director of the ICT, Science & Technology Division, where she managed ECA’s programme on Harnessing Information, Science and Technology for Africa’s Development, which included the Knowledge, Library and Information Services programme.

As Director of that division, she specifically led and implemented impressive initiatives such as UNECA's African Information Society Initiative (AISI) a continental digital agenda supporting African countries to develop and implement national ICT4D policies and strategies, Technology in Government in Africa Awards (TIGA) to encourage African Governments' use of technology for development, and was one of the co-architects of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) – an initiative to encourage African innovators and inventors to enhance their roles in the African development process. Dr Opoku-Mensah's career spans academia, as well as the public and international sectors, and in philanthropy, working for the Ford Foundation's West Africa office in Lagos, Nigeria. She established the Panos Southern Africa regional office based in Lusaka, Zambia, and served as its first director and lectured at London's City University on communication policy, among other assignments. She has a PhD from University of Leeds, MA from London's City University and BA from the University of Ghana, and sits on a number international and regional advisory panels and boards. In 2012, she received the Geospatial World Leadership Award for 'Making a difference in promoting geospatial technology in Africa' and made the ‘African Female Diplomat of the Year’ from BEN TV (UK) in their 2012 Diplomatic Awards category.

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Professor Akissa Bahri, Professor,National Research Institute for Agricultural Engineering, Water and Forestry, Tunisia

Dr Bahri has more than 30 years of experience in research, putting knowledge into action, and contributing to institutional development and partnership building. She has academic and professional experience in water resources management and water reuse and a long-standing interest in how a more integrated approach to managing water, fecal sludge, wastewater and biosolids can contribute to meeting water demand and protecting the environment. She managed research projects for the National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water, and Forestry (INRGREF) in Tunisia. 

She served as Director for Africa of the International Water Management Institute, a CGIAR-supported research institute headquartered in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from September 2005 to May 2010 before being appointed Coordinator of the African Water Facility, African Development Bank Group, from June 2010 until June 2015. She is a member of different international scientific committees and has received international honors.

She holds a degree in agricultural engineering from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Agronomie de Toulouse (France), a Doctor-Engineer degree from the Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse (France) and a Ph.D. in Water Resources Engineering from Lund University in Sweden.

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Professor Charles S Mgone, former Executive Director, EDCTP

Professor Mgone is the former Executive Director of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). He graduated in Medicine (MD) and Paediatrics and Child Health (MMed) at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and obtained doctorate of philosophy (PhD) in Medical and Molecular Genetics at the Duncan Guthrie Institute, University of Glasgow in United Kingdom and Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians (London). He worked at Muhimbili Medical Centre as a consultant paediatrician and Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health before moving to Glasgow where he worked on Porphobilinogen Deaminase gene mutations that cause acute intermittent porphyria. 

He later moved to Papua New Guinea working on tropical infectious diseases, particularly on sexually transmitted infections, HIV/AIDS, malaria and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.

This included the molecular epidemiology and characterisation of chlamydia and human papillomaviruses (HPV); and host resistance to malaria. His current interest is in capacity development and networking in empowering clinical research in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. He has been the Editor of the Papua New Guinea Medical Journal, Tanzania Medical Journal and Tanzania Paediatrics Journal. He is a past and current Chair or a member of several scientific advisory committees including the TDR Scientific and Technical Committee, WHO Pooled R&D Fund, Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF), Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), Trans Global Health (TGH),  Scientific Committee for the Advanced Course in Vaccinology (ADVAC), European Vaccines Initiative (EVI), Critical Path to TB Drugs Regimens (CPTR), Malaria Capacity Development Consortium (MCDC), Tuberculosis Vaccines Initiative (TBVI) and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI).

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Professor Christian Borgemeister, Managing Director, Center for Development Research, Germany

Professor Borgemeister obtained his PhD in Horticulture from Leibniz Hannover University (LUH) in 1991. He lectured at LUH before embarking on a research career in Africa in 1992. Until the end of 1997 he worked at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in Benin, West Africa first as a Postdoctoral Fellow, then as an Associate and finally as a Senior Scientist coordinating a multi-country program on the integrated control of an invasive stored-product pest. He returned to Germany in 1998 working as an Assistant, then Associate and since 2003 as a Full Professor for Applied Entomology at LUH.

From 2000–2001, he was also a Visiting Professor for Applied Zoology at the Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany.

From 2005 to 2013 he was the Director General of icipe, the International Centre of Insect Physiology (, a Nairobi, Kenya headquartered pan-African R&D Centre. In October 2013 he was appointed Full Professor at the University of Bonn as Head of the Department for Ecology and Natural Resources Management of ZEF, the Centre of Development Research ( Since January 2015 he is the Managing Director of ZEF. Borgemeister is a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, the Royal Entomological Society and the Entomological Society of America. Borgemeister was for >8 years Chief Editor of the International Journal of Tropical Insect Science (published by Cambridge University Press) and has affiliations with other distinguished scientific journals as reviewer. He has authored and co-authored over 130 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, has co-authored a book on biological control in Africa, and has written over 10 chapters for different scientific books.

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Dr Fil Randazzo, Deputy Director, Discovery and Translational Science, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

As Deputy Director for the Discovery and Translational Science team for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, Fil Randazzo’s primary areas of focus and expertise are science & technology innovation, social innovation, and organizational and partnership innovation.

Science &Technology Innovation. Joining the foundation in 2005, Fil co-launched and co-managed the Grand Challenges in Global Health (GCGH) Initiative which transformed the global health research landscape. He pioneered and led the foundation’s first investments and strategy in agricultural biotechnology. Fil funded, managed and nurtured some of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s most promising and transformational programmes, including Eliminate Dengue (global product launch expected in 2020), Gene Drive (considered the single most important potential new product concept for malaria eradication), and Banana21 (Time Magazine’s Best 25 Inventions of 2014).

Social Innovation. As a bioethics strategist and a co-founder of the “ESC Thinking” movement, Fil has changed the way in which the foundation addresses risk, by viewing risk though an  ethical lens which is colored by complex  social and cultural perspectives that vary across the globe (ESC risk). He created and continues to manage a multidisciplinary consulting service that anticipates, assesses and mitigates programmatic and reputational ESC risk across research, development, delivery and policy functions.

Organisational and Partnership Innovation. Fil solved the foundation’s decade old bottleneck regarding access to proprietary high value industry assets and resources for global health vaccine R&D by creating the Vaccine Discovery Partnership (VxDP) with GSK Vaccines and Sanofi Pasteur, respectively. As relationship manager between the Gates Foundation and the Global Good Fund at Intellectual Ventures, LLC, Fil molded another unique and productive partnership. In 2008, Fil established the Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA) which is considered a model for cooperation between universities, research institutes, NGOs, government, private sector and individuals at large in solving global health problems.

Fil earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1991 and a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame in 1985. He was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow in Toronto and at Stanford University. Besides his primary scientific training as a developmental geneticist and microbiologist, Fil has also trained in medical anthropology and bioethics. Prior to joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Fil spent ten years in R&D at the Chiron Corporation in Emeryville California. He holds ten patents.

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Professor Francisca Mutapi, Reader, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh

Dr Mutapi holds a readership in global health at the University of Edinburgh, UK. She conducts basic scientific research integrating immunology, molecular biology, parasite biology, quantitative studies and fieldwork to build an evidence base used to inform stakeholders, governments and funding organisations on global helminth control policy formulation and implementation.

Prof Mutapi‘s scientific accomplishments include both fundamental science advancements and translational outputs. To date she has published over 70 peer-reviewed manuscripts including influential papers on schistosome immunology and epidemiology. Her work has influenced research prioritisation, health policy and practice. In terms of health impact, her work has led to policy revision through the World Health Organization making millions of pre-school children eligible for schistosome treatment.

She has also contributed to the implementation of Zimbabwe’s national helminth control programme, targeting close to 5 million school children annually and currently heads a team of independent scientists monitoring and evaluating the programme. She has an excellent record in postgraduate supervision having supervised postgraduate training for more than 20 young scientists from Africa and Europe. Through membership of the African Science Leadership Program and various science strategic/research boards, she is helping shape the research agenda of science in Africa.


2011-currently: Elected Member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland

2015-currently: Fellow, African Science Leadership Program

1993-1997: Beit Scholarship to study for a PhD at the University of Oxford

1991: University of Zimbabwe Prize for best BSc Hons Science graduate

In addition to these she has also won the following competitive fellowships:

2005-2010: Research Fellowship, Research Councils UK Fellowship (RCUK)

2002-2005: Medical Research Council (UK) Training Fellowship

1999-2001: Junior Research Fellowship, Linacre College, University of Oxford

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Mr Paul Sagnia, Banker

Mr Paul Sagnia joined the Standard Chartered Bank on 1st September 1980 in The Gambia and has worked extensively across the franchise in Africa.  He was COO Botswana until October 2014 and was instrumental in stabilising Botswana after a rather protracted leadership succession that culminated with the appointment of a non-banker to the role of CEO Botswana. With Paul’s support the business was stabilised and relations with the Regulator rebuilt after deterioration during the leadership succession challenges. He is currently the Head Client Experience, Process and Governance Retail Clients Africa Region for Standard Chartered Bank, appointed in October 2014. 

In this role, Paul supports the Regional RC Head in formulating and executing the client experience strategy.

Paul is responsible for model setting, service delivery optimization, execution of transformational and continuous client experience improvement initiatives, and overall governance over key risks of the business, including and not limited to AML CDD Sanctions and the first line of defence, Paul provides oversight for Branch Operations and Project Management across the Region. He strives to drive a good balance amongst client experience, efficiency and effective control across channels

Paul now lives in Kenya since 2007 (except for an 18 month stint in Botswana), with his wife, two children and three dogs. He has three grown up children who have since flown the nest.  His hobbies include reading, surfing the internet and touring the country side on a motor bike.

Paul is a member of the Africa Region Top Team and the Retail Clients COO Top Team.

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Dr Tom Kariuki, AESA Director

In 2015, Dr Kariuki was appointed Director of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), which is a new science funding, think tank and programme evaluation platform created by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in partnership with the NEPAD Agency  and three global funders. He brings to the job a track record of scientific achievement, strong leadership skills gained through successful transformation of research facilities, and a deep understanding of the African science landscape.

Tom is a Fellow of the AAS in the field of biomedical sciences, a graduate of the University of Nairobi, and the University of York, UK, where he undertook his PhD studies in immunology. He previously served as the Director of the Institute of Primate Research/National Museums of Kenya, which is a WHO Collaborating Centre for Tropical Diseases and Human Reproduction located in Nairobi, Kenya and transformed it into a vibrant, well-funded, internationally acclaimed research facility.

His research interests have spanned the immunology of infectious diseases and he has been fully involved in global research efforts to develop vaccines, drugs and diagnostics for infectious diseases of poverty. He has published widely in major journals on infectious diseases research and on policy issues related to biomedical sciences and funding.

He is a recipient of various international awards including Fellowship of the African Academy of Sciences; Senior Fellowship of the European Foundations Initiative for Neglected Tropical Diseases; and was conferred with national honors of the Order of Grand Warrior of Kenya for scientific leadership and public service. He is the immediate past President of the Federation of African Immunological Societies (FAIS), a committee member of the International Union of Immunological Societies (IUIS)-Education Committee, and served on the board of the newly launched African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), among others.

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