Our Country Ambassadors

Our Country Ambassadors are experts in their fields who help connect us with our members, supporters and networks outside the UK.

The role Country Ambassador is a new voluntary position, which was created as a result of our new strategy, which launched late 2017.

The aim of the role is to ensure we are better connected with our members, supporters and networks outside of the UK. Ambassadors help influence how the Society operates, through their links to the Board of Trustees and also to the team.

Country Ambassadors, along with our Regional Ambassadors who we are due to recruit in 2020, help to ensure that researchers and professionals in their country or area can benefit better from the work of the Society. We also work together to decide how RSTMH can have the most impact in their respective countries and areas. 

They can also help us ensure the relevant individuals and organisations in their country are aware of RSTMH's work and activities, so that they are aware of how we can help them progress their careers, but also that their knowledge and expertise is represented in our networks and is part of our impact. 

Find out more about the role

Current Country Ambassadors

Dr Kebede Deribe (Ethiopia)

Dr Kebede is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

He is an epidemiologist and a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Fellow in Public Health and Tropical Medicine, interested in the epidemiology and control of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), with a focus on spatial epidemiology and operational research.

Kebede is particularly interested in the design, implementation of large scale studies to map the distribution of diseases and evaluation of interventions for prevention, control and potential elimination of NTDs. Kebede has first degrees in public health from Haramay University, Ethiopia and MPH from Jimma University, Ethiopia and PhD in epidemiology from Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Through a Wellcome Trust training fellowship grant, he led the nationwide mapping of the geographical distribution of podoconiosis in Ethiopia. He is an academic editor with PLOS ONE and a member of the Footwork Advisory Committee.

In 2016, he received RSTMH's Emerging Leaders Award and been an RSTMH member since 2011. 

Dr Shirshendu Mukherjee (India) 

Dr Shirshendu Mukherjee trained as a Medical Microbiologist and brings with him more than 25 years of experience in academic institutes, pharmaceutical companies and a decade of experience in national, international philanthropic and government funding agencies. He has been instrumental in supporting the innovation ecosystem in India and beyond.

Dr Mukherjee is currently the Mission Director of Grand Challenges India, the flagship programme of the partnership between the Department of Biotechnology, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome Trust. This platform supports initiatives that could dramatically change the health and development landscape in India.

Dr Mukherjee holds Ph.D. in Microbiology, is a law graduate and carried out a leadership course form Said Business School at the University of Oxford and the Global Health Leadership course from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

Dr Titus Divala (Malawi)

Dr Divala is a physician driven by Malawi’s infectious disease burden to pursue a research career focused on clinical trials. He has been a clinician since 2009, and a clinical trial investigator since 2011.

He has worked on clinical trials assessing interventions for malaria, HIV and tuberculosis, co-authoring at least 14 peer-reviewed publications, presenting over 25 conference abstracts, and earning seven awards.

He is a recipient of the Helse Nord Research Fellowship Award (Norway) and the Commonwealth Scholarship (CSC-UK) for doctoral studies at the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Department at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

His doctoral research, jointly hosted by the University of Malawi and the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust, investigates the overlap between tuberculosis diagnostic process and antimicrobial resistance for broad-spectrum antibiotics used for respiratory infections at primary care facilities.

Dr Rania Baleela (Sudan)

Dr Baleela is a molecular population geneticist interested in the epidemiology and control of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) especially malaria and visceral leishmaniasis. Her research focuses on the population structure of pathogens and the implication of this on their control and epidemiology.

Dr Baleela obtained her BSc from the University of Khartoum in 1999 in Zoology with a first class honours. She went on to receive an academic Merit Scholarship from the Islamic Development Bank to pursue a PhD from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which she obtained in 2010.     

 A side from being a researcher and a scientist, she is the founder of the first Sudanese academic digital repository, which helps reserve scientific output and make sharing easier. Currently, Dr Baleela is the Head Research and Publishing Unit at University of Khartoum and Assistant Professor of molecular biology and population genetics at the Department of Zoology, University of Khartoum.

Ivan Nkaiwa (Botswana)

Ivan Nkaiwa is a qualified Environmental Health Practitioner with a proven track record and 12 years of experience as an employee of Ministry of Health and Wellness - Botswana, under the Department of Public Health.

Mr Nkaiwa is one of the first officers to be employed by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to establish Port Health Services at major points of entry in Botswana in 2010. Port Health Services’ main objective is prevention and control of diseases at points of entries into the country.

He recently completed a Masters of Health Sciences in Environmental Health at the Central University of Technology in South Africa with research studies on malaria in Botswana. He is a prospective PhD student with a strong interest in epidemiology, especially its application on major infectious diseases of global concern such as malaria and neglected tropical diseases caused by arthropod vectors that affect both human beings and livestock.

His PhD research study will be focused on malaria in Botswana, the distribution of species of mosquitoes and how the country’s climate contributes to species distribution.

Dr John Aaskov (Australia)

Dr Aaskov retired as Professor of Virology and Immunology at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane Australia in November 2019. Previously, he was also Director of a WHO Collaborating Centre for Arbovirus Reference and Research and is on the Register of Experts for the International Health Regulations.

Dr Aaskov spent almost 20 years as a Reservist in the Australian Army, the last seventeen as a Major in the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps and head of the arbovirus research laboratory in the Australian Defence Force Institute of Infectious Diseases.

He undertook his B.Sc. in Microbiology at the University of Queensland, his Ph.D. at the University of Leeds and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of the UK.

Dr Aaskov was involved in the development of commercial diagnostic assays for Ross River, dengue and Japanese encephalitis virus infections and the clinical trials to license the Sanofi Pasteur Japanese encephalitis vaccine in Australia. He also developed a vaccine against Ross River virus infection that has completed phase 3 clinical trials.

Dr George M. Varghese (India)

Dr George M. Varghese is a Professor and the Head of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, India where he underwent his undergraduate and post graduate medical training. His journey to become a renowned clinician, teacher and researcher spans over three decades with extensive training in infectious diseases and tropical medicine in many centres of excellence such as London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Wayne State University, USA.

Dr Varghese has been an expert in the field of infectious diseases and global health and currently serves on several national and international committees, including the expert committee of Indian Council of Medical Research, Governing Council of the Clinical Infectious Diseases Society and Médecins Sans Frontières. He has been honoured with several recognitions such as Guerrant International Young Investigator Award by Infectious Disease Society of America, MG Alexander Award in Tropical Medicine by Clinical Infectious Diseases Society and Linnaeus-Palme Visiting Professor by Swedish Government for the pioneering work in rickettsial infections. Apart from these recognitions, Dr Varghese has also been conferred with Fellow of Infectious Diseases Society of America and Fellow of Royal College of Physicians.

Dr Varghese is passionate in translating research from the bench to bedside at the community level to combat tropical infections. Recently, he was awarded a senior fellowship by Wellcome Trust DBT alliance. He has published numerous papers in national and international journals. 

How to apply

You will have been based in the country you would like to represent for at least a decade and will be there for at least a further year. You will have a good understanding of the health environment, as well as have established links to tropical medicine and global health networks and organisations.

You will be knowledgeable in your specific area of tropical medicine and global health and will have established good networks within your country, in your field and more widely, preferably across the clinical, academic, charitable industry and policy making sectors.

You will have represented your organisation or work in other non-executive or voluntary capacities in the past and will have a good understanding of how to disseminate information and extract ideas and advice. Finally, you will be a member of RSTMH and be confident and willing to represent RSTMH.

Find out more about the role