Infectious disease epidemiologist Professor Frank Tanser has always been fascinated by the space-time spread of epidemics. His unique application of mapping technologies like GIS to infectious diseases and health systems research has led to ground-breaking insights into the impact and evolution of the HIV epidemic in an era of improved treatment and prevention interventions. In 2013, he led research (published in Science) that provided the first conclusive evidence that population-level reductions in the transmission of HIV could be achieved in public-sector ART programs in rural sub-Saharan African settings. The study had wide-reaching and rapid policy impacts.
Frank was a founding member of the Africa Centre for Population Health in 1998, and was responsible for setting up its GIS unit. He is a member of AHRI Faculty, a Professor of Epidemiology in the College of Health Sciences at UKZN, and further holds an honorary professorship at University College London in the Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care. He was recently awarded a Newton Advanced Fellowship by the British Royal Society. He holds a PhD in Health Sciences from the University of KwaZulu-Natal and Masters degrees in Geography and Epidemiology from Rhodes University and Imperial College London respectively. He has served as a consultant and advisor to several high-profile organisations including the Mailman School of Public Health, USAID, the Futures Group International and UNAIDS. He currently serves on the board of the Lancet HIV, is an academic editor of PLoS One and is a member of the International Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee of the UNAIDS 90-90-90 Target.
Frank heads up a research group at AHRI. He is PI on two large NIH R01 grants that seek to understand the long-term effects of the ART roll-out on HIV incidence and HIV-related mortality in a hyperendemic rural South African population. His Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship work aims to establish the optimal HIV combination prevention strategies in such populations. He is also interested in the use of big data for epidemiological application and together with colleagues at the University of Washington he is putting together a funding application to use cell phone based GPS traces to fundamentally redefine the role of population mobility in the acquisition and transmission of HIV in hyperendemic, rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
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Selected Recent Publications
Maheu-Giroux, M., Tanser, F., Boily, M.-C., Pillay, D., Joseph, S. A., & Bärnighausen, T. (2017). Determinants of time from HIV infection to linkage-to-care in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Aids, 31(7), 1017-1024.
Brennan, A. T., Davies, M.-A., Bor, J., Wandeler, G., Stinson, K., Wood, R., Prozesky, H., Tanser, F., Fatti, G., & Boulle, A. (2017). Has the phasing out of stavudine in accordance with changes in WHO guidelines led to a decrease in single-drug substitutions in first-line antiretroviral therapy for HIV in sub-Saharan Africa?. Aids, 31(1), 147-157.
Tomita, A., Vandormael, A. M., Bärnighausen, T., de Oliveira, T., & Tanser, F. (2017). Social disequilibrium and the risk of HIV acquisition: A multilevel study in rural KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa. JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
Tomita, A., Vandormael, A. M., Cuadros, D., Slotow, R., Tanser, F., & Burns, J. K. (2017). Proximity to healthcare clinic and depression risk in South Africa: geospatial evidence from a nationally representative longitudinal study. ocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 1-8.
Haber, N., Tanser, F., Bor, J., Naidu, K., Mutevedzi, T., Herbst, K., Porter, K., Pillay, D., & Bärnighausen, T. (2017). From HIV infection to therapeutic response: a population-based longitudinal HIV cascade-of-care study in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The Lancet HIV, 4(5), e223-e230. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(16)30224-7.