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Rakai Health
Sciences Program

Johns Hopkins University


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Our People in Uganda

Rakai Health Sciences Program (RHSP) has more than 370 dedicated staff working in Uganda. Listed here are RHSP investigators and management staff.

Click here to meet our people working at Johns Hopkins University.

David Serwadda, MBChB, MSc, MMed, MPH – Senior Principal Investigator and Director

David SerwaddaDr. Serwadda, infectious disease epidemiologist, is Professor and the Director of the Institute of Public Health at Makerere University in Kampala. He received his MMed from Makerere University and an MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Serwadda was among the first researchers to report on the presence of AIDS/HIV in Uganda (Lancet, 1984) and has worked continuously on HIV-related research and prevention since the mid-1980s. He has been a senior investigator on the Rakai Program since its inception in 1988, and is the Ugandan principal investigator on the ongoing NIH-funded "Trial of Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention". He has been instrumental in the scientific design and management of the project and has provided critical liaison between the project, the local community, Ugandan political and policy decision makers, the Ugandan Ministry of Health, and international agencies including UNAIDS, the WHO, and the World Bank.

Nelson Sewankambo, MBChB, MMed, MSc – Senior Principal Investigator

Nelson SewankamboDr. Sewankambo is Dean of Medicine at Makerere University in Kampala. He completed his MMed at Makerere University and received an MHS degree from McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario. Along with Drs. Wawer and Serwadda, Dr. Sewankambo initiated the Rakai Program in 1988 and has been involved in all aspects of project design and scientific management in the ensuing decades. Dr. Sewankambo travels regularly to the field in Rakai, in order to ensure good project functioning.

Fred Wabwire-Mangen, MBChB, MPH, PhD – Senior Principal Investigator

Fred Wabwire MangenDr. Wabwire-Mangen, is Associate Professor and past Director of the Institute of Public Health at Makerere University in Kampala. He completed his PhD in Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1994. He has been a senior investigator on the Rakai Project since 1995, when he designed and supervised the "Maternal Infant Supplementary Study (MISS)", a randomized trial to assess the effects of intensive STD control on pregnancy outcomes, maternal and infant health, and on HIV mother-to-child transmission.

Stephen Watya, MBChB, MMed, Dip. Pub. Health - Consultant Urologist

Email Stephen WatyaDr. Watya is head of Urology at Mulago Hospital, the teaching facility for Makerere University. He was instrumental in the planning and initiating of the "Rakai Trial of Male Circumcision". He provides training and supervision to Rakai Medical Officers who conduct the circumcision procedure and to Clinical Officers who carry out post-surgical follow up. He also oversees the quality of surgical procedures, consults on difficult cases, and reviews all SAE and AE reports.

Tom Lutalo, BSc, MSc - Statistician, Senior Principal Investigator

Tom LutaloMr. Lutalo received his Masters degree in Statistics from the University of Leicester, UK. He has directed the Rakai Project data center in Entebbe for the past 14 years and is also principal investigator on the Rakai study of contraception and fertility funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Center for Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Lutalo oversees all Uganda-based data management, programming, and analysis. 

Godfrey Kigozi, MBChB, MPH – Medical Officer, Junior Principal Investigator

Godfrey KigoziDr. Kigozi received his medical training at Makerere University in Kampala and his MPH from the Department of Population and Family Health at Johns Hopkins University, where he received the Harper and the Delta Omega Awards for outstanding academic achievement. Dr. Kigozi has overseen a number of complex Rakai Project studies, including the "Maternal and Infant Supplementary Study (MISS)" on the effects of STD control on maternal and infant health; the "Molecular Epidemiology Study" to assess HIV viral set points, circulating, clades and recombinants; and he was the Ugandan principal investigator on the Rakai study of NVP provision in underserviced rural areas. He has been the Medical Officer for the "Trial of Male Circumcision" since 2004. Under his direction, these studies achieved compliance and follow-up rates of over 90 percent, (including 80 percent compliance with home-based placental collection in MISS) despite the substantial challenges of working in this dispersed population.

Fred Nalugoda, S. Stat, MHS – Director of Kalisizo Field Station, Junior Principal Investigator

Fred NalugodaMr. Nalugoda has worked with the Rakai Project since 1991 and is the capacity of the Program Director is responsible for all field activities. His knowledge of Rakai communities, community mapping, community relations, and logistics is unsurpassed. He is Rakai Program co-principal investigator, having completed his MHS degree at Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Nalugoda is one of the Rakai Program’s most senior scientific staff and has detailed knowledge of the Program, especially the "Rakai Community Cohort Study (RCCS)". He is Director of the Kalisizo Field Research Station.

Noah Kiwanuka, MBChB, MPH - Medical Officer, Junior Principal Investigator

Noah KiwanukaDr. Kiwanuka received an MBChB from Makerere University in Kampala, an MPH from Johns Hopkins University, and is currently completing his PhD dissertation in epidemiology at Case Western Reserve University. He will return to the Rakai Program in 2007. Dr. Kiwanuka oversaw field work on the "STD Control for AIDS Prevention Trial", where he was instrumental in achieving compliance rates of over 85 percent among men and women. He was also the initial Medical Officer on the "Rakai Trial of Male Circumcision", before temporarily leaving Rakai to conduct his doctoral studies. He is highly experienced in the conduct of complex epidemiological/behavioral field studies related to reproductive health, including all aspects of field data and sample collection, quality control, and logistical coordination. Upon his return, he will participate in the coordination of field activities, quality control, and in data analyses and publication.

Fred Makumbi, MHS, PhD – Director of the Statistical Department, Junior Principal Investigator

Fred MakumbiDr. Makumbi has been with the Rakai Program since 1992. In 1999, he was accepted to the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to earn his MHS degree. In recognition of his exceptional academic record in his Masters’ training program, he was subsequently offered a full departmental scholarship to pursue doctoral studies. He completed his PhD in Demography and Statistics in 2004. Within the Rakai Program, Dr. Makumbi now heads up the Statistical Analysis Unit. He has worked as a statistician on many Rakai studies; recently as a lead Ugandan statistician on the Male circumcision studies, and currently the HSV2 study. He has strong interest and skills in designing, implementation, and analysis of clinical trials. He is Senior Lecturer for the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Makerere University, College of Health Sciences School of Public Health.

Joseph Kagaayi, MBChB, MPH - Medical Officer, Deputy Director of Field Activities, Junior Principal Investigator

Joseph KagaayiDr. Kagaayi graduated from the Makerere University with a Bachelors degree in medicine and surgery in 1999. In 2004, he obtained a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Kagaayi joined the Rakai Program in 2000 and since then has been involved in HIV/STD research as co-investigator and coordinator on multiple research grants including: studies on prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, clinical research on the roll-out of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource limited settings, population-based effectiveness studies following clinical trials of male circumcision, and population-based cohort studies on the effects of ART on the HIV epidemiology and behaviors of people in Rakai. He presently coordinates research activities in the long studied Rakai community cohort as well as maternal-infant studies of mother-to-child HIV transmission and childhood neurodevelopment. As Deputy Program Director, he also assists the Program Director in overseeing the overall conduct of all program activities including research and service delivery.

Mohammed Kiddugavu, MBChB, MPH – Medical Officer, Junior Principal Investigator

Mohammed KiddugavuA Johns Hopkins MPH graduate, Dr. Kiddugavu is an investigator on the Natural History of HPV infection, and the Benefits and Risks Ethics study, and is a former director of the Rakai Community Cohort Study. He is currently completing a residency in Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Pius Opendi, MBChB – Laboratory Director

Pius OpendiDr. Opendi is laboratory director of the Rakai Health Sciences Program, a position he assumed in August 2003. He oversees all the laboratory activities; coordinates lab logistics, interpretation and reporting of lab results; manages staff and handles appraisals; oversees continuing medical education to the team; and compiles monitoring activity reports. Prior to his appointment as Laboratory Director, Pius worked as a Laboratory Supervisor with the Rakai Health Sciences Program during the period 1994-97. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MB ChB) from Makerere University and a diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology from Jinja School of Medical Lab Technology. He has attended a Good Clinical Laboratory Practices short course conducted by PPD/DAIDS in Kampala (2006); the Johns Hopkins Graduate Summer Institute of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Baltimore, MD (2004); Comprehensive HIV/AIDS care and prevention for medical doctors in Africa conducted by the Infectious Diseases Institute - Makerere University Kampala (2006); Good Clinical Practice conducted by Westat/NIAID/DAIDS, Entebbe (2004); and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health human subjects research education (Online course, 2003). He is interested in pursuing a research career in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology.

Rebecca Kakembo, Dip. Business Studies, ACCA – Grants and Finance Administrator

Rebecca KakkemboMrs. Kakembo joined Rakai Health Sciences Program in 2005 as a Principal Accountant and currently serves as Grants and Finance Administrator for the program. She manages organizational budget; prepares financial and management reports. Prior to joining the Rakai Program, she was Finance and Administration Manager with the Uganda Protestant Medical Bureau. Mrs. Kakembo has a Diploma in Business and is a member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. She is currently pursuing an MBA degree at the Makerere University in Kampala.

Voices from Rakai

Theopista Namanda

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It is my fifth day here [in a mobile clinic set up in a private home]. Yesterday, I treated more than 70 people. I’m just alone here, listening, diagnosing and dispensing medications. You do the work of three people. We rent someone’s home on a daily basis and use as a clinic. The main cases we see are malaria, worms, arthritis, painful joints, respiratory tract infections, genital ulcers, even peptic ulcers and syphilis. The commonest [condition] is malaria. We treat with chloroquine and Panadol [acetaminophen]. We treat coughs, worms and anemia as well. I enjoy my work. I feel happy helping people.

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Theopista Namanda
Nurse and Researcher

Center for Global Health


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