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The Health Research Unit Zim (THRU ZIM) at the Biomedical Research and Training Institute conducts research aimed at improving health and wellbeing across the life-course. We focus on public health issues of relevance to Zimbabwe and the African region. Our research group is multidisciplinary and collaborates with a range of local and international academic institutions, so that we can access the expertise to conduct research to the highest standards




Prof Rashida Ferrand


I obtained my primary medical degree from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and following postgraduate training in internal medicine and clinical specialist training in HIV Medicine and Sexual Health, I joined the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Since 2007, I have been based in Harare, hosted by the Biomedical Research and Training Institute (BRTI) where I lead the Zimbabwe-LSHTM research partnership. Our focus is on HIV, Adolescent Health, Chronic non-infectious morbidities, Tuberculosis and Infection and Antimicrobial Resistance.


Ms Tsitsi Bandason

Data Management

I am the lead data manager/statistician supporting various research study teams. My vast research interests are in HIV and TB research and statistical methodology.  I joined the Biomedical Research and Training Institute in 2004 and I have been involved in the development of data management processes and documents and also provide statistical analysis services. Prior to this, I was a data manager for the Zimbabwe Meteorological Services.  I graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Statistics and an MSc in Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Zimbabwe.


Ms Ethel Dauya

Field Director

I am a public health specialist with 20 years of experience in research on HIV, TB and adolescent Health. I have coordinated Phase 1, 2, 3 and 4 trials involving adolescents and young people for more than 10 years. I manage the CHIEDZA trial and provide oversight for other field studies in our group. Before becoming a researcher, I was a nurse manager for the Harare City Health Department. I have a Master’s in Public Health, degree in Community Development and diplomas in Community Nursing, Midwifery, General Nursing with certificates in Family Planning and Syndromic Management of STI.


Prof Katharina Kranzer

Deputy Director

I am a medical microbiologist, with my primary medical degree from the Technical University Munich (Germany). I am a master in Epidemiology and Tropical Medicine & International Health at LSHTM. I became a Wellcome Trust PhD fellow in Cape Town investigating the effect of active TB case finding and anti-retroviral therapy on TB epidemiology in South Africa from 2008-2011. Thereafter, I headed the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory in Germany (2015-2018) and also serve as a WHO Supranational Reference Laboratory for several countries in Central Asia and West Africa. I have a working relationship with Prof. Rashida Ferrand in leading the Zim-LSHTM research partnership on adolescent health.


Dr Aoife Doyle

Training & Mentorship (MSc Projects)

I am an Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the LSHTM. For the past 17 years, my research has focused on the health and well-being of young people. I have been a member of the Zimbabwe-LSHTM Group since 2018 collaborating on the CHIEDZA trial and leading the 2018-19 Young People’s use of Technology, and Mental health and well-being (YTM) study. I have been based full-time at BRTI since June 2021 leading the design, implementation and evaluation of Y-CHECK, a novel adolescent health check-up strategy. My research is currently funded through a UK Research & Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship (2021-25). I am originally from Ireland but over the past 20 years have lived in England, Scotland, France and Tanzania.

Mr Ivan Chigonde


I am the group’s finance officer and a Registered Public Accountant with PAAB. I joined the research group in 2001 and I have managed all the research grants since then. My role includes preparing financial statements as per donor agency requirements, assisting in preparation of budgets, monitoring of budgets and expenditure to ensure adherence to policies and procedures. I am currently studying towards completion of my Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification. I have an ACCA Advanced Diploma in Accounting and Business, a Higher National Diploma in Accountancy with the Southern African Association of Accountants (SAAA) and am a member of Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators in Zimbabwe (ICSAZ), a registered Public accountant and a holder of a practicing certificate in Accountants with PAAB Zimbabwe. I plan to complete my honours degree in Applied Accounting in 2021, upon submission of my project with Oxford Brookes University, UK


Training & Mentorship (PhD Support)

I am an Epidemiologist with a background in Biomedical Science with Business. My main research areas are evaluating strategies to improve the implementation of HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health interventions for adolescents and young people. I am currently a study coordinator for CHIEDZA trial and the STICH study which is nested within CHIEDZA. I am also part of the planning team for the Youth Researchers Academy (YRA) in Zimbabwe.


Dr Chido Dziva Chikwari

Dr Rudo Chingono

Training & Mentorship

(Internal Training & Workshops)

I am a Social Scientist with a background in public health research. I previously earned a MSc in Social Science & Child and Family Studies from Africa University, and is currently in my final year of a PhD in Global Health Research at the University College London. For the past 7 years, I have coordinated a number of HIV related studies with focus on child development, adolescents and maternal health. My experience in this area has led to me being passionate about mental health awareness, especially among women in Zimbabwe. Recently, I have expanded my research interests to understanding the impact of COVID-19 on maternal and child health as well as its impact on mental health. I am leading a Social Science study that seeks to understand the impact of Typhoid Conjugate Vaccine programme on antimicrobial prescribing practices of healthcare workers. 


Dr Celia Gregson


I am a Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the Musculoskeletal Research Unit (MRU), University of Bristol an Honorary Consultant Orthogeriatrician at the Royal United Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in Bath and Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Training Fellowship. I set up and runs the UK DINAG consortium (DXA-databases to Identify Novel Anabolic Genes). I worked as a Senior Scientist at the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit at the University of Southampton, before taking up an Arthritis Research UK Clinician Scientist Fellowship at the University of Bristol to study the molecular genetics of High Bone Mass. In 2018, Celia founded the ‘Sub-Saharan African MuSculOskeletal Network’ (SAMSON;, which I now co-direct.


Dr Vicky Simms


I am a statistical epidemiologist in the MRC International Statistics and Epidemiology Group at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. I work on randomised controlled trials and cohort studies in the areas of HIV, adherence to antiretroviral therapy and mental health, including children and adolescents. I have been working with the Zimbabwe LSHTM research partnership since 2015, moving from the UK to Zimbabwe in 2019.


I am a Senior Clinical Research Fellow in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, and an honorary consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. I work between the UK and Harare, Zimbabwe on a portfolio of studies aimed at improving diagnosis, management and prevention of neonatal sepsis in low-resource settings. I'm particularly interested in how we can improve infection prevention and control (IPC) and limit the spread of anti-microbial resistance, despite the challenges of working with few and intermittent resources.I am part of a multidisciplinary international team led by Michelle Heys at University College London which has co-developed Neotree, a digital quality improvement tool aiming to support clinicians in Malawi and Zimbabwe care for vulnerable neonates while capturing data: since 2018 we have captured data on >35,000 neonates and trained >1000 clinicians in four facilities in Malawi and Zimbabwe. I’ve recently taken over as PhD lead at THRU ZIM.

Dr Felicity Fitzgerald

Training & Mentorship

(PhD Support Lead)

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Public Engagement & Communications

I am a public health specialist and postdoctoral research fellow with a research focus on menstrual health, adolescent sexual and reproductive health service delivery, and public engagement.  I have vast experience coordinating and implementing interventions focusing on SRHR, addressing the needs of the LGBTQI community, and women’s health. Currently, I am a Reckitt Global Hygiene Institute post-doctoral fellow leading an innovative project focusing on women and menstruation across the life-course and on the co-creation of a menstrual health toolkit with women, healthcare providers, and other relevant stakeholders in rural and urban communities across Zimbabwe. As the public engagement lead for THRU ZIM, I am involved in several public engagement research projects across Zimbabwe including the Youth Researchers Academy (YRA) and the Art of Health. I hold a PhD (Epidemiology) from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, an MSc in Global Health and Development from UCL and a BA in Public Health and Women's Gender Studies.

Dr Mandikudza Tembo


Mr Tendai Muchena


I am the group’s administrator and my role include organizing meetings, supporting our overseas research visitors, procurement, managing regulatory applications and visas for our team and working with the field manager to ensure that field procedures run smoothly. I joined the group in 2008, initially as an administrator for a 1-year project, then joining the research teams as a research assistant. I trained in Marketing and M&E in the past, and I am currently in my final year for a BSc (Hons) degree in Development Studies.

Sarah Bernays - profile pic 1_edited_edi

Social Science

I am a social anthropologist based at the University of Sydney and LSHTM. My research concentrates on adolescent health, with a particular focus on infectious diseases- HIV and other STIs, TB and COVID-19 and mental health. I began working in Zimbabwe in 2010. In partnership with communities, I have been conducting social science research to design and evaluate complex interventions, including the CHIEDZA trial. The aim is to enhance the influence of communities to shape interventions and policies which are going to work for them. I am passionate about the contribution that qualitative evidence can make within interdisciplinary research to understanding and identifying opportunities to address complex problems.

Dr Sarah Bernays

Training & Mentorship

(Internal Training & Workshops)

I am an experienced and passionate public health professional with a nursing background. I hold a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Africa University and a BSc Nursing science degree from the University of Zimbabwe. I am registered as a medical research and international health PhD candidate at Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich (LMU) since 2022. I have been working as a research coordinator for the past 4 years and joined the Health research unit at Biomedical research and training institute in September 2020. I maneuverer through the HIV and TB prevention and treatment programs working with Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric Aids Foundation, Population Services International and the Ministry of Health.

Mr Edson Marambire

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