Stellenbosch University
Welcome to Stellenbosch University
Leading epidemiologist joins CERI as Director of Population Health Innovation Programme
Author: Corporate Communication and Marketing | Korporatiewe Kommunikasie en Bemarking
Published: 02/03/2023

​​​​Prof Frank Tanser, a leading South African scientist in the field of HIV, has joined the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) as Director of Population Health Innovation.

He is a professor jointly appointed at the School for Data Science and Computational Thinking and the Department of Global Health at Stellenbosch University.

Tanser's research aims to evaluate and design intervention strategies to drive back the HIV epidemic and its negative consequences in communities hardest hit by the epidemic. His pivotal work over the past 25 years has provided substantial insights into the evolving and dynamic nature of the HIV epidemic and its key drivers, informing HIV prevention and treatment efforts in sub-Saharan Africa.  Tanser has spent the last three years working in the United Kingdom where he was the founding director of the Lincoln International Institute for Rural Health that focused on addressing the greatest health challenges facing rural communities across the globe. 

“I am delighted and honoured to be back in South Africa working at Stellenbosch [University] and with CERI and the Department of Global Health. I love this continent and there is no place in the world I would rather be right now – here is where I feel that I can make the biggest impact," he said.

Tanser plans to undertake innovative research focusing on the population-level effects of interventions addressing the most important health issues affecting vulnerable populations across Africa. “We've already sourced a large amount of funding for HIV-related projects in South Africa and Zimbabwe and we're currently putting together proposals on the effects of climate change and health involving partners from West Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa. Ultimately, we will look to build on the excellent work CERI has done during the Covid-19 pandemic and create a team of African researchers that can play a leading role in taking forward the field of Population Health.

“We are particularly excited about the return of Prof Tanser to South Africa. His appointment will create a thriving Population Health Research Group at CERI in collaboration with the Department of Global Health at SU and the Africa Health Research Institute," said the Director of CERI, Prof Tulio de Oliveira.

Award winning researcher

Tanser holds master's degrees from Imperial College London and Rhodes University and a doctorate from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is a senior faculty member of the Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI) and holds honorary professorships at University College London, Monash University in Malaysia. He currently serves on the board of The Lancet HIV and has been a member of several key national and international committees including the International Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee to the director of UNAIDS.

He is also a founder member of the Africa Centre for Population Health (now Africa Health Research Institute) in 1998 and was responsible for building Africa's first comprehensive population-based GIS system at the centre.

In 2017 he was honoured by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) with the gold medal – a SAMRC's scientific achievement award – in recognition of the excellence of his research. In 2019, The Royal Geographical Society awarded Tanser the Back Award for “conducting applied research that has made an outstanding contribution to the development of national or international public policy".

Tanser has published over 250 papers in high-ranking international journals and his research has been cited over 34 000 times.