People at GHI

GHI is a consortium of people committed to the realization of the institute’s mission. It does not aim to replace existing organizations or programmes of its constituents, but functions as a framework and hub to strengthen collaborations and forge synergies.

GHI senior academic Staff

Robert Colebunders

MD, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp. Until 2014, Prof Colebunders was Head the Clinical HIV/STD Unit at the Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM). He worked in Algeria (1974-76, primary health care and public Health), the Democratic of Congo (1985-87, Kinshasa, Projet SIDA), US (1988, CDC, Atlanta) and Uganda (2003-4, Infectious Diseases Institute, Makerere University). His main expertise and research interest is in HIV, tuberculosis and hemorrhagic fever. He initiated the international network for the study of HIV related immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (INSHI). He was a member of the international team that investigated the Kikwit Ebola and the Durba Marburg outbreak. During his career, Prof Colebunders published over 500 articles in peer-reviewed journals. Currently, his academic focus is on research to identify the cause of the nodding syndrome and river epilepsy in onchocerciasis endemic regions.

Jean-Pierre Van geertruyden

MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp. Prof Van geertruyden  has worked over a decade as a clinician and manager in humanitarian and disease control projects of the World Health Organization and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), mainly in Sub Saharan Africa. His academic career started at ITM Antwerp in 2003, where he was involved in malaria and HIV research. Since 2009, he works at the University of Antwerp where he mainly works on malaria and human papilloma virus (HPV) research. His main expertise lies in operational research, capacity building for global health research, designing and implementing quantitative research, and conducting clinical trials in resource limited settings.

Annelies Van Rie

MD, PhD, Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, and Professor, Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prof Van Rie obtained her PhD at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. She has worked for almost 20 years on clinical, epidemiological and molecular epidemiological research of tuberculosis, with an emphasis on tuberculosis in Sub-Saharan Africa, the link between TB and HIV, and drug resistant tuberculosis. Her research has resulted in 150 articles published in peer reviewed journals. She has vast expertise in infectious disease epidemiology methods, capacity building in resource limited countries, translational research, and design of implementation research.

Erika Vlieghe

Prof. Infectious diseases, Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp. Head of Infectious diseases and Tropical Medicine at UZA. Her main interests include the epidemiology of antibiotic resistance and other emerging infectious diseases problems, and the development of contextualised and effective interventions to contain these problems, with a particular focus on low resources settings. During the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis, Erika acted as the National coordinator for Ebola preparedness in Belgium, setting up and implementing multi-sector guidelines for the response to potentially infected persons within the country. This experience gave her a unique experience in the multiple aspects of emergency preparedness at national level. In the aftermath of this large epidemic, Erika realised there is a broad interface in the preparedness for acute epidemics e.g. viral haemorrhagic fever and those for slow and silent epidemics such as antibiotic resistance. Common denominators include the improvement of medical education and the diagnostic capacity (which both may increase awareness) and the improvement of infections control practices in health care settings around the world, which is the single key intervention to avoid or control nosocomial multiplication of emerging infectious diseases problems. These three aspects remain therefore the core of her scientific interest.

Steven Abrams

Prof. Abrams holds a bachelor degree in mathematics (2009), a master degree in statistics (Epidemiology and Public Health Methodology) (2011) and a PhD degree in statistics (2015) from Hasselt University. He has worked on modelling individual heterogeneity in the acquisition of infectious diseases using frailty models. His primary research interest is in the quantification of unobserved heterogeneity in susceptibility to infection, infectiousness upon infection and social contact behavior, sources which are all relevant for the spread of infectious diseases and the control of emerging infections. Furthermore, his research interests include the statistical analysis of (serial-) serological survey data, outbreak risk assessment in highly vaccinated populations (including but not limited to measles, mumps and rubella), development of novel statistical methodology for the estimation of epidemiological parameters with regard to malaria infection and the application and integration of survival data techniques in infectious disease epidemiology. Prof. Abrams teaches introductory topics in statistics and mathematical modeling in the Bachelor of Mathematics and Biomedical Sciences at Hasselt University, in the Bachelor of Medicine at the University of Antwerp and to master students in Biomedical Sciences at Hasselt University. He also gives advanced statistical courses and statistical consultancy training in the Master of Statistics at Hasselt University and the Master of Epidemiology at the University of Antwerp.

Yves Jacquemyn

MD, PhD - Prof Jacquemyn is the Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. His major research topics are on maternal health, pre-eclamspia and fetal monitoring besides pelvic floor and benign gynecologic surgery. He has served several times as an ultarsound teacher and as a surgical trainer in Africa.

Hilde Bastiaens

​MD, PhD - Hilde Bastiaens is professor at the Centre for primary care medicine, Department of Interdisciplinary and Primary Care. Her research interest lies in primary care, chronic non-communicable disease management and health systems research. Prof. Bastiaens presides the University Center of Qualitative Health Research Antwerp. She is also is co-investigator of the Institutional University Cooperation between the University of Limpopo and the Flemish Universities (PI Prof Van geertruyden). As part of this large project, she leads a chronic disease management study in rural Limpopo. She and Prof. Van geertruyden collaborate with Prof. Nuwaha, Fred Prof. Rhoda Manyenze in Uganda and Prof. Ndikubagenzi in Burundi on chronic disease management and qualitative research components.​

Sibyl Anthierens

Prof. dr. Sibyl Anthierens is a social scientist at the Department of Family Medicine and Population health.  She is co-leading Qualua together with prof dr Hilde Bastiaens (the University Center of Qualitative Health Research Antwerp). Her specific role and research aims are coordinating and looking for strategic opportunities to deliver cross-cutting social science research across clinical and epidemiological work in infectious diseases research to evaluate how evidence based treatment and management strategies are used or not used in everyday practice by patients and professionals in primary care and how this new evidence can be used to improve practice by tailoring interventions, evaluate and adapt them and implement them in practice. She has used a wide range of research methodologies, but with a particular focus on qualitative research.  She supports several national and international PhD students on the qualitative research components of their research.

Hans Keune

Hans Keune is a Political Scientist (University of Amsterdam) with a PhD in Environmental Sciences (University of Antwerp). ORCID: He works on critical complexity, inter- and transdisciplinarity, action research, expert elicitation, decision support methods and integrated approaches; environment & health, ecosystem services, biodiversity & health, One Health/EcoHealth; experience both in Belgian projects and EU-projects. Until October 2010 his expertise was mainly related to his work for the Centre of expertise for Environment and Health in which he has been involved from the start in 2002 as principal investigator of the social scientific research unit of the Centre. At the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Antwerp he currently coordinates the chair ‘Care and the Natural living environment’ as professor. He is also affiliated to the Faculty of Applied Economics, University of Antwerp where he collaborates on decision support systems such as multi-criteria decision analysis and group decision support. He is coordinator of the Belgian One Health Network. He is member of the Belgian delegation to the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), was member of the IPBES Expert Group on the ‘diverse conceptualizations of values of biodiversity and nature’s benefits to people including ecosystem services’ and Lead Author on the IPBES Regional Assessment Europe – Central Asia where he coordinated the review work in relation to nature – health linkages. He is also co-initiator of the Network for EcoHealth and One Health (NEOH) – European chapter of EcoHealth International.

Christopher Delgado Ratto

Christopher Delgado Ratto is a docent and principal research fellow at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. Christopher is a molecular epidemiologist who graduated as a biologist in Peru with postgraduate studies in Belgium: in Molecular Biology and Epidemiology and Ph.D. in Medical Sciences. Christopher has an extensive experience in the molecular epidemiology of malaria. His projects are based in Peru, African and Asian countries. His primary interest is integrating epidemiology with population genetics and phylogenetics to investigate infectious diseases. He is currently studying the malaria transmission dynamics at a large and individual level, improving the assessment of antimalarial treatments by understanding the genetic background of malaria parasites, unraveling the contribution of human mobility to malaria persistence, and genomic surveillance of drug resistance. Christopher is leading malaria mixed research methods projects in Peru, collaborating with local universities and the national malaria elimination program. Christopher is also working on genomic surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Peru and African countries. Besides research, Christopher is also a faculty member at the Free University of Brussels, adjunct principal researcher at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru, and co-founder of the GENMAL network.

Nele Brusselaers

Nele has extensive experience in clinical, cancer and pharmaco-epidemiology by working with the Swedish nationwide health registries, several clinical cohorts and systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Although she has a broad interest and experience in different clinical topics (incl. infectious diseases) with many international collaborations. One of her main interests is to investigate the long-term effects of commonly prescribed drugs (incl. antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors) on health, through potential drug-mediated alterations of the microbiome.

Tim Heupink

PhD, postdoctoral fellow, Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Tim is an evolutionary geneticist with an interest in Next Generation Sequencing and real-time evolutionary dynamics across space and time. He applies these principles to study tuberculosis as part of the Center for Whole Genome Sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Joseph Nelson Siewe

Dr. Siewe is a research physician interested in tropical neurology. He is currently carrying out his PhD research with the NSETHIO group of the Global Health Institute, whose main aim is to better understand onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy and provide prevention/management options in affected communities. He actively participated in the organization of the 1st International Workshop on Onchocerciasis-Associated Epilepsy (OAE) in 2017, and is part of the OAE Alliance. He has cumulated field experience in several African countries including Cameroon, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and laboratory experience from the Biotechnology Center of the University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon.

José Luis Peñalvo

Dr. Peñalvo is a Full Professor at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp (Belgium), where he leads the Unit of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) and an Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Antwerp. He is an epidemiologist and public health specialist with a strong background in quantitative research and epidemiologic methods, including the design, and outcome and impact evaluation of primary prevention interventions, and estimating health impacts through modeling the effect of population-based dietary policies to reduce NCD-related burdens. Throughout his career, he had the opportunity to address all levels of chronic NCD prevention, from primordial to tertiary, from developing strategies to instill appropriate lifestyle behaviors in small children, to population-based studies to reduce the prevalence of NCD risk factors, to refining treatments and reduce disabilities among chronic disease patients. He has been central in the process- and impact-evaluation of a nation-wide, intra-curricular school-based intervention to encourage healthy lifestyles and behaviors in children (N~2,400) aged 3-5. He has led the study of the psychosocial, dietary and physical activity habits of participants from two large prospective cohorts (N~10,000) studies dedicated to identifying the determinants of plaque formation and the onset of atherosclerotic disease using state-of-the-art imaging to assess the burden in several territories in asymptomatic individuals. Dr Peñalvo is interested in a life-course approach to health and disease, through the analysis of the long-term effects that biological, physical and social exposures during childhood, adolescence, young adulthood and later adult life, may have on the development of chronic disease. 

Anzaan Dippenaar

PhD (Stellenbosch University, South Africa), postdoctoral fellow, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Anzaan is a molecular biologist and has an interest in applying Next-Generation sequencing (NGS) to study Mycobacterium tuberculosis. She applies various approaches to investigate the microevolution of M. tuberculosis during transmission, study mycobacterial genomics of treatment response during tuberculosis disease, and explore the genomic characteristics of various mycobacterial strains causing tuberculosis in a variety of animal host species. Anzaan is also heavily involved in NGS capacity building, especially as part of collaborations with partners in Sub-Saharan African countries. 

Roma Siugzdaite

Dr. Siugzdaite holds a bachelor degree in mathematics and informatics, a master degree in mathematics and a PhD degree in Computer science from Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania. She has worked on modelling brain development using generative models. Her primary research interest is in environmental and genetic effects on neurodevelopment and how they effect education and mental health. Furthermore, her research interests include the statistical analysis of behavioural, brain and survey data, network analysis, etc. Dr. Roma Siugzdaite teaches introductory topics in statistics StatUA and FLAMES for PhD students from University of Antwerp and other universities in Flanders.

Antea Paviotti

Dr. Antea Paviotti is an anthropologist and holds a PhD in Development Studies (University of Antwerp). In her PhD research (FWO-funded), she analysed the notions of "us" and "them" in contemporary Burundi, focusing on reciprocal perceptions and interactions between Hutu and Tutsi. As a postdoctoral researcher at the Global Health Institute / Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp), she analyses people’s perceptions of Ebola and vaccines in Boende (Tshuapa, western DR Congo), within the framework of a clinical trial of an Ebola vaccine (EBOVAC3).

Vincent Rennie

PhD (Open University, United Kingdom), senior bioinformatician, Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Vincent is a evolutionary microbiologist and bioinformatician with a keen interest in  applying Next-Generation sequencing (NGS) to study Mycobacterium tuberculosis. He is currently working on the valorization of the MAGMA pipeline developed by Lennert Verboven and Tim Heupinck. He is particularly interested in transforming this academic software into a user-friendly platform for clinicians using the principles of design thinking and user-experience (UX) design practice. Together with Sequentia Biotech, he is working to develop a gold standard web platform that will be submitted for endorsement by the WHO and subsequently rolled out worldwide to facilitate the implementation of WGS for treatment of dug resistant TB cases, thus improving the treatment outcomes of hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide.

Josefien van Olmen

GHI academic staff

Emmanuel Rivière

PhD student, Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Emmanuel is a biomedical scientiest with a background in molecular and cellular biomedical science. He has an interest in analysis of Next Generation Sequencing data and bioinformatics in general. His research focuses on drug resistance mechanisms in Mycobacterium tuberculosis as part of the Center for Whole Genome Sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Sander Goossens

Sander completed his Master of Science in Genetics, Cell and Development Biology at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 2014. The three subsequent years he worked as a Biology and Physics teacher at the International Montessori School of Brussels. In October 2018 he started his PhD at the faculty of medicine and health sciences at the University of Antwerp. He will use whole genome sequencing and RNA sequencing data in order to respectively investigate the within-host MTB population dynamics and MTB transcriptional responses under drug pressure. Next he is also studying the effect of epigenetic modifications in MTB under drug pressure.

Lennert Verboven

Lennert graduated as MSc in computer science at the faculty of science at the University of Antwerp in 2017. He has a background in data mining and machine learning and an interest in bioinformatics. He is currently working on a PhD at the faculty of science at the University of Antwerp. He joined the Centre for Whole Genome Sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis where he applies his data mining and machine learning skills to improve knowledge regarding MTB transmission dynamics and emergence of drug resistant TB.

Ynke Larivière

PhD student, Centre for Evaluation of Vaccinations (CEV) & Global Health Institute (GHI), University Antwerp. Ynke Larivière graduated as Master in Epidemiology in 2019. She started working as Assistant Project Manager in March 2019 for the EBL2007 clinical trial as part of the EBOVAC3 project at the CEV and GHI, at the University of Antwerp. The phase 2 clinical trial has been set up in Boende, Democratic Republic Congo, to test a two-dose heterologous, prophylactic vaccination regimen against Ebola virus disease which is in development by Janssen Vaccines & Prevention B.V., part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson with the goal to bring the vaccine to licensure. Since April 2020 Ynke has started her PhD, where she focusses on the immunogenicity and safety of the two-dose heterologous, prophylactic vaccination regimen against Ebola virus disease.

Gwen Lemey

PhD student, Centre for Evaluation of Vaccinations (CEV) & Global Health Institute (GHI), University Antwerp. Gwen Lemey graduated as Master in African Languages and Cultures in 2005 and in International Affairs and Diplomacy in 2006. She started working for the Global Health institute as a Project Coordinator in 2013, since when she is responsible for donor-funded research projects in Central and East African countries. Since 2019 she is working on an Ebola vaccination trial with the Janssen Ebola vaccine, implemented in collaboration with the University of Kinshasa, DR Congo. Since 2022 she started a PhD trajectory, whereby she specifically works on research ethics and the topic of Ancillary Care of research conducted in resource-constrained settings.

Alessandro Grosso

Alessandro is a PhD Student in Medical Statistics at the Global Health Institute (University of Antwerp), under the supervision of Prof. Steven Abrams, Prof. Niel Hens, and Prof. Koen Peeters (Institute of Tropical Medicine). His PhD project focuses on advancing statistical methods for the estimation of relevant age/time dependent epidemiological malaria parameters, accounting for sources of observed and unobserved heterogeneity. Additionally, he is interested in the use of Network Analysis as a novel approach for the development of malaria elimination strategies. Alessandro holds a MSc in Economic and Social Sciences from Bocconi University (Milan), and has worked in the past as a Research Fellow in Health Economics within the Team for Economic Evaluation and Health Technology Assessment (TEEHTA) at the Centre for Health Economics of the University of York (UK).

Amber Hadermann

Amber is a PhD student with a background in Biomedical sciences of tropical and infectious diseases (MSc, 2021) and Tropical Medicine (MSc, 2022). Her interests are parasite (gen)omics and bioinformatics. She is working on a project focusing on the disease mechanism of Onchocerciasis Associated-Epilepsy (OAE) at the Global Health Institute and Center For Proteomics.

Aimée Julien Suárez​​

Mahdi Safar Pour

Mahdi completed his Master of Science in Biotechnology in 2012. He graduated as Master in Epidemiology from the faculty of Medicine and Health sciences, University of Antwerp in 2022. He has a background in genetic epidemiology and machine learning. Since May 2022, Mahdi is working on a PhD project at the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, University of Antwerp. His research focuses on investigating malaria transmission dynamics by integrating epidemiological and travel data with whole genome sequencing data of malaria parasite. 

Luís-Jorge Amaral

Luís has a background in epidemiology (MSc at Imperial College London) and microbiology (BSc at Portuguese Catholic University and University College Cork). He worked as a Biomedical Scientist at the UK Health Security Agency and as an Epidemiologist Consultant at Imperial College London, where he is currently a Visiting Researcher. In April 2022, Luís started his PhD at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Antwerp, where he is focusing on reducing the onchocerciasis burden. This is being achieved by recognising the burden of the disease, particularly from onchocerciasis-associated epilepsy, and tailoring the control interventions to prevent it. Tanzania, South Sudan and Togo are some countries where his PhD research takes place.

Maha Salloum

PhD candidate at the Global Health Institute (GHI) and the Centre for Evaluation of Vaccinations (CEV). Her research focuses on investigating community perceptions surrounding the Janssen Ebola vaccine and the EBL 2007 clinical trial in Boende, DR Congo, as well as examining the attitudes and confidence in childhood vaccinations. She is a pharmacist with a master's degree in Vaccinology and her research interests include vaccine confidence, seroepidemiology, and migrant health.

Geoffrey Manda​​​

Geoffrey Manda, MBBS, M.Sc., holds a Master of Science in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London in the United Kingdom, and is now a PhD candidate focusing on infectious disease modelling at the Global Health Institute, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp. His strengths lie in mathematical epidemiology and biostatistics, as well as health economics, with a focus on encapsulating public health challenges into mathematical tools and economic evaluations to investigate the epidemiological and economic impact of various infectious disease control interventions to support evidence-based public health decision-making.

Miguel de Diego Fuertes

Miguel is a MSc Biotechnology & Bioinformatics graduate from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and his main interests are centered around the increasingly concerning problem of antibiotic resistance and its impact on global health. He joined the Center for Whole Genome Sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in 2022, and is currently exploring the approaches and tools that bioinformatics and data science can offer for addressing these issues.

Pham Hien Trang Tu

Trang Tu is a pharmacist and epidemiologist, with a background in clinical epidemiology and pharmacoepidemiology. She completed her Master of Epidemiology at University of Antwerp in 2022 and since then joined the Center for Whole Genome Sequencing of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Her research focuses on applying advanced epidemiological methods to study the value of NGS in optimizing drug-resistant TB treatment and precision public health.

Annelies Boven

Annelies Boven has a background in epidemiology (MSc at the University of Antwerp) and biomedical sciences (BSc at the University of Amsterdam). She finished her Master of Epidemiology in 2022 and has since worked with professor Nele Brusselaers on projects related to C. difficile infections. She is currently involved in the Global-PPS project and focuses on antimicrobial consumption and stewardship in specialist outpatient care.  

GHI support staff

Gwen Lemey

  • VLIR-UOS TEAM Tanzania

Paul Peter Vermeiren​​


Bernard Osangir ​

  • ​Datamanager EBOVAC3

Ellen Van Himbergen

  • VLIR-UOS funded projects
  • FWO Peru
  • GHI website and social media

Geertje De Backer

  • EBQ course
  • Master of Epidemiology VLIR-UOS scholarships

Dimitri Geelhand de Merxem

Sandwich PhD's

An overview of all our current Sandwich PhD students and their research topic can be found here.