& Governance

The Africa Health Research Institute Director, Prof. Deenan Pillay, leads the institute and oversees its scientific programmes. The Director is assisted by a Chief Operating Officer and Chief
Financial Officer.


Deenan Pillay


Prof. Deenan Pillay is an academic clinical virologist with a research and clinical interest in HIV transmission, antiviral therapy and drug resistance. He is a Professor in Virology in the University College London Division of Infection & Immunity. His research work at UCL and AHRI focusses on HIV virus evolution, in particular how HIV escapes drug selective pressure. His research spans wet (genomic, phenotypic) and dry (bioinformatics) laboratory approaches, as well as linking in vitro data to national and international population estimates. Prior to his posting as Director of Africa Health Research Institute, he served as Director of the Africa Centre for Population Health. He has held a number of other senior scientific roles, including Head of the Division of Infection and Immunity at UCL, and Director of the UCL Biomedical Research Centre.

Kobus Herbst

Chief Information Officer

Dr Kobus Herbst is a public health specialist with experience in managing projects in both the public health and health research sectors. In the public health sector Dr Herbst contributed to the establishment of the post-apartheid health system through the development and implementation of ReHMIS (Regional Health Management Information System) in the early 1990’s, the first computerised public health care facility inventory in South Africa. His interest in health research started with his involvement in the Wits/MRC Agincourt Demographic and Health Study in 1992 and his subsequent appointment as project leader of the Africa Centre's demographic surveillance project. Before AHRI's inception, he was the Deputy Director of the Africa Centre.

Costas Criticos

Chief Operating Officer

Costas Criticos was appointed AHRI’s chief operating officer from the institute’s inception in October 2016. Before that, he served as the COO of K-RITH, after two years working as the HHMI’s local liaison for the K-RITH project. A graduate of the University of Natal and Syracuse University, Criticos was a recipient of Fulbright and British Council awards. He returned to the University of Natal to become a senior lecturer in the faculty of education and director of the Audio-Visual Centre. Criticos played an important role in the early development of the HIV Pathogenesis Programme and the Africa Centre for Population Health, two major research institutes associated with the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Dilip Kalyan

Chief Financial Officer

Dilip Kalyan qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1988. Shortly thereafter, he joined the SA Clothing Industries as a Proactive Accountant where he quickly moved up through the ranks and was appointed Group Financial Director in 1997; a position which he held for 11 years. He was then headhunted to join a startup multi-national engineering company where he was appointed Financial Director responsible for group financial responsibilities. Dilip describes himself as results driven; a strong motivator with good business acumen. At AHRI he is responsible for financial planning, financial record keeping, financial reporting, and the management of financial risks.

Board of Directors

AHRI is governed by a Board of Directors composed of outstanding scientific
and global health leaders. The Board meets twice a year and is tasked with
reviewing and authorising major institute decisions. Professor Hoosen (Jerry)
Coovadia currently serves as the Board’s interim chairman.

Board of Directors

Prof. R Slotow

Professor Rob Slotow is Head of the College of Health Sciences at UKZN. An eminent and prolific researcher, Professor Slotow’s work focuses on strategies for the management of ecologically and economically important large mammals such as lion, elephant and rhino as well as processes influencing biodiversity and conservation management. Slotow completed his PhD in Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was appointed full Professor at UKZN in 2007.

Prof. R Losick

Professor Richard Losick is the Maria Moors Cabot Professor of Biology at Harvard and an HHMI Professor. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Member of the American Philosophical Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. He studies gene control and cellular differentiation in bacteria.

Prof. R Weiss

Professor Robin Weiss is a professor of viral oncology at University College London. A well-known virologist, Weiss has done pioneering research into HIV and Aids, most notably the identification of CD4 as the HIV receptor on cells. He has worked on Aids-associated cancers and – for the Gates Foundation – HIV vaccine discovery. From 1980 to 1989, he was director of the Institute of Cancer Research in the United Kingdom. Weiss was also president of the Society for General Microbiology from 2006 to 2009.

Prof. D Lomas

From August 2015, Professor David Lomas has served as the Vice-Provost (Health) at University College London. Previously, he was Dean of UCL Medical Sciences and Chair of Medicine, a position he held since the start of 2013. An outstanding clinician scientist, Prof Lomas was also a Professor of Respiratory Biology in the University of Cambridge and Honorary Consultant Physician at Addenbrooke’s and Papworth Hospitals, and Deputy Director of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research.

Mr L Quayle

For over a decade Leo has specialised in Internal Auditing, Risk Management Consulting and Corporate Governance. Before that, he was in KPMG’s External Audit division where he was a partner and director for over 20 years. Leo has held memberships on the Council of UKZN, The Board of Trustees of the UKZN pension fund, The Board of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Institute of Directors and the Institute of Internal Auditors.

Dr Simon Kay

As Head of International Operations and Partnerships at Wellcome Trust, Simon leads Wellcome's efforts to build biomedical and health research capacity in Africa and India. Simon has expertise in charitable and not for profit international governance arrangements, and in capacity building in Lower and Middle Income Countries. He is also a Governor at Ardingly College in West Sussex, a Trustee of the Malaria Consortium, a Director of the Africa Research Consortium for Health (ARCH) in Kenya and a member of the Partners' Group which provides governance oversight to AESA.

Prof. O Shisana

Professor Olive Shisana is a public health professional with expertise in the epidemiology and risk factors of HIV. She was the first Director General for the Department of Health in South Africa under the Mandela Administration. She was CEO of the Human Sciences Research Council from 2005 to 2015, and served as executive director of the World Health Organisation’s Family and Community Health cluster in Geneva, where she oversaw programmes dealing with HIV/Aids, reproductive health, women’s health and child and youth development. She is currently the President and CEO of Evidence Based Solutions - a privately held policy, research and ICT firm.

Prof. P Piot

Professor Peter Piot is the Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and is a Professor of Global Health. He was the founding Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1995 until 2008, and was an Associate Director of the Global Programme on Aids of the WHO. Under his leadership UNAIDS became the chief advocate for worldwide action against Aids. Prof. Piot has a medical degree from the University of Ghent and holds a PhD in Microbiology from the University of Antwerp. His main research areas have been on clinical, microbiological, epidemiological, and public health aspects of haemorrhagic fevers, sexually transmitted diseases, Aids, tuberculosis, and women’s health in Africa, and, more recently, on policy and politics related to Aids, Ebola and global health.

Scientific Advisory Board

AHRI’s Scientific Advisory Board, chaired by Prof. Janet Darbyshire, is composed largely of international experts in HIV and TB research. It meets semi-annually to advise the Director and the science programmes at AHRI.

Scientific Advisory Board

Prof. Gavin Churchyard

Prof. Gavin Churchyard is a specialist physician, internationally-renowned for his contributions in tuberculosis. He is the founder and CEO of The Aurum Institute NPC, an independent, not for profit South African public benefit organisation that focuses on TB and HIV service delivery, management and research. He is an Honorary Professor at the University of Witwatersrand, School of Public Health and an Honorary Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine. He is the principal investigator on a number of TB trials being conducted in South Africa. He has contributed to industry, national and international guidelines for TB and HIV, and has published widely in the areas of TB and HIV treatment and prevention.

Prof. Stewart Cole

Stewart T. Cole is the director of the Global Health Institute. He is an international authority in bacterial genetics and genomics. He was a key member of the team that uncovered the complete DNA sequence of the Aids virus, HIV 1, and of the bacteria that cause TB, among many other important findings. Among the most highly cited TB researchers, Cole is currently leading an international project to discover new drugs to treat TB. Among many international awards, he is a fellow of the Royal Society.

Prof. Wafaa El-Sadr

Wafaa El-Sadr is Professor of Epidemiology and Medicine at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is also the founder and director of the International Centre for AIDS Care and Treatment (ICAP) at Columbia University and the Global Health Initiative at the School of Public Health. Through ICAP, large scale programmes have been established in 20 countries in sub Saharan Africa and Asia that integrate research, education, training and practice with a focus on HIV, related conditions and health system strengthening to enable response to diverse health threats. Dr. El-Sadr is also a recognized researcher in the areas of prevention and management of HIV and tuberculosis as well as in implementation research seeking the identification of effective methods to implement and scale-up interventions through rigorous research.

Dr. Gilla Kaplan

Dr. Gilla Kaplan leads the team that works to accelerate the reduction of TB incidence globally at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Before this, she was a professor of medicine and associate director at the Public Health Research Institute Centre of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. She is an authority on the host cellular immune response to mycobacterial infections. Gilla is the recipient of multiple grants from the NIH-NIAID and other foundations for her research.

Prof. Sara Randall

Sara Randall is a Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at University College London. She has considerable experience of field data collection (both quantitative and qualitative) in Mali, Senegal and Burkina Faso under a range of conditions. Her work focusses on issues such as health behaviour, marital and reproductive decision making, the impact of migration on those left behind as well as trying to understand the determinants of different patterns of demographic dynamics in poor, rural African populations and the interplay between development and demography. Her research is currently orientated around unpacking the mismatch between the concepts used in survey data collection and respondents’ own ideas about what is important and their daily realities.

Prof. Greg Towers

Greg Towers is a Professor of Molecular Virology and Senior Wellcome Biomedical Research Fellow in the Division of Infection and Immunity at University College London. The Towers Lab aims to understand the molecular details of host virus interactions, and is developing novel inhibitors of viral infection that manipulate viruses’ ability to hide from innate immune pattern recognition receptors. They also aim to use their understanding of innate immune control of HIV-1 to develop novel gene therapy based approaches to treat HIV-1 infection.