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Prof Maryam Shahmanesh
Prof Maryam Shahmanesh profile picture
  • Professor of Global Health
  • Infection & Population Health
  • Institute for Global Health
  • Faculty of Pop Health Sciences

Maryam Shahmanesh is a Professor of Global Health at the Institute for Global Health, Faculty on the executive committee of the the Africa Health Research Institute (South Africa),  and an Honorary Consultant in Sexual Health and HIV Medicine at the Mortimer Market Centre. After graduating in Medicine (Cambridge University), she completed her specialist training in Sexual health and HIV medicine (London).  Her academic training, which has complemented her clinical training, includes a degree in Social and Political Science (Cambridge University), a Masters in Epidemiology (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), and a PhD in Clinical Epidemiology (University College London). 


During her clinical and academic training she spent two years as a project coordinator with Medicines sans Frontieres in north Burma (1997-1999), where she gained extensive experience in evaluating, developing and implementing malaria, TB, HIV and sexual health services. Maryam's research interests are in the area of Global Health (UK, Burma,  India, and South Africa) and have been supported by Wellcome Trust Clinical Training Fellowships, Walport (NIHR) Clinical lectureship, and a US NIH Early investigator award. Her key interest in to is to work with the multiple disciplines of social science, clinical medicine and epidemiology to develop and use innovative methods to rapidly evaluate complex interventions.  Her experiences in Burma, India  and South Africa, have provided her with ample experience in engaging and communicating with policy makers, stakeholders and communities, often in challenging and adverse conditions. 


In addition to her research, Maryam is actively involved in post graduate teaching.  She  has been the graduate teacher for taught programs; and has designed and led three Masters programmes at UCL, the Masters in Sexually Transmitted Infection and HIV (2010); the Masters in Population Health (2016); and the Masters in Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology (2019).  Maryam currently supervised PhD students (4) and is a mentor to a large team of South African early career researchers.  Maryam, is also a  clinician at one of the largest sexual health and HIV clinics in the UK.

Research Summary

Dr Maryam Shahmanesh is a Professor of Global Health at the UCL Institute for Global Health, and Faculty leading clinical research at the Africa Health Research Institute (South Africa), and a sexual health and HIV Consultant at the Mortimer Market Centre. In the past she has held a Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship and a Walport Clinical Lectureship. In 2017 she received a US National Health Institute early investigator R01 award to develop and evaluate a peer navigator intervention to improve uptake and retention of adolescents and young adults in biological, behavioural and structural interventions in South Africa. Her key strength is being able to work in the interdisciplinary space between social science, clinical medicine and epidemiology to develop and use innovative methods to rapidly evaluate complex interventions.

Throughout her career Maryam Shahmanesh has been interested in Global Health.  Her survey of Chlamydia in rural El Salvador was one of the early indications of the high prevalence of this infection in women in Central America. During work with MSF in Burma her RCT of malaria treatment in north Burma provided some of the first data to indicate that the high levels of resistance observed in the Thailand was also present in Burma. Her Wellcome Trust Clinical Fellowship has provided one of the only systematic descriptions of the impact of coercive policies and forced dispersion of sex workers on their sexual risk; has added to a growing body of evidence of the complex interaction between the social context and a variety of seemingly disparate health conditions, namely sexual health and mental health. 

Her work emphasises the role of engaging communities and community mobilisation as key to developing and evaluating complex interventions. She has  collaborated on a World Bank funded evaluation of community mobilization and empowerment in relation to HIV prevention among sex workers in India and her USAID funded ASHA project in Goa was commended as an example of best practice for Greater Involvement of people living with HIV by the funders.  

She now leads a large programme of work to develop and evaluate complex biosocial interventions to improve the health of adolescents and young adults in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The programme, funded by a National Institute of Health, Medical Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Councils, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,  Wellcome Trust, 3ie, and UNITAID, includes evaluating the scale-up of complex interventions (DREAMS and MTV-Shuga); and developing innovative uses for social networks, digital technology, Sexually Transmitted Infection near patient testing, and peer-support, to improve engagement of young people in HIV care and prevention, including antiretroviral based prevention (universal test and treat and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). 

Teaching Summary

Maryam Shahmanesh enjoys teaching and has a large postgraduate teaching role.  She was the Institute for Epidemiology and Health Care graduate tutor for taught courses (2012-2016).  Whilst as at IEHC she over saw aa successful IQR, oversaw the transition of the Masters in sexual health and HIV from one that was jointly taught by UCL and LSHTM to one that is offered by UCL only (2010-2015) and developed and led the Masters in Population Health (2015-2017). Currently she has developed and co-directs the exciting new MSc in Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the Institute for Global health (2018-).  She co-leads two exciting post graduate modules; a) Developing sexual health programs in low and middle income settings and b) Fundamental principles in Infection and population health.  Both bring together a diverse array of disciplines (basic sciences, social sciences, epidemiology, medicine, evaluation and implementation science) in order to help students understand the complex interplay between the organism, the individual, the community and the social context in infection and sexual health.  She is also involved in supervision and examining PhD students.


Academic Background
2010   Doctor of Philosophy University College London
2003   Master of Science London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
2002   Diploma in Genitourinary Medicine Royal College of Physicians
1999   MA Cantab Gonville and Caius College Cambridge
1997   Member of the Royal College of Physicians Royal College of Physicians
1993   Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery University of Cambridge
1990   Bachelor of Arts (Honours) University of Cambridge
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