The Study Team

Principal Investigators

Melissa Watt, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of the Practice, Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of the Master of Science in Global Health program at the Duke Global Health Institute. Dr. Watt’s research focuses on understanding and addressing gender-specific health issues in sub-Saharan Africa, with specific attention to HIV, substance use and mental health. She has led or co-led multiple funded studies aimed at improving care in Sub-Saharan Africa, including a strong history of collaboration with Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre and nearby clinics. For the MAISHA study, Dr. Watt is a Principal Investigator managing the reporting, dissemination, and implementation of findings, as well as fascilitating the partnership between Duke and KCMC.

Blandina Mmbaga, M.D., MMED, Ph.D. is a paediatrician working at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre and Director of the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute. She is also a site leader for the KCMC-Duke Collaboration Clinical Research site and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Duke Global Health Institute. Dr. Mmbaga is the KCMC Clinical research site (CRS) principle investigator for the IMPAACT studies where she is leading several HIV clinical trials for pregnant women and children. Her research area has been mainly in infectious disease, including HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, bacterial infections and zoonoses disease. In the MAISHA study, she is a Principal Investigator and her role is to oversee the implementation of the study in Moshi, providing supervision to the research team and following up on study progress.

KCRI Tanzania Team

James Ngocho is a Tanzania medical doctor with extensive research experience in HIV/AIDS. Currently, Dr. Ngocho is enrolled in a Masters of Philosophy in Public Mental Health at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. In this study, he supervises data collection and client management. Additionally, he has used data from the Option B+ cohort for his Master’s thesis looking at the prevalence of depression among HIV-infected pregnant women in the Kilimanjaro Region of Tanzania, as well as factors associated with depressive symptoms. His broader research interests are in public mental health, especially among people living with HIV.

Haika M. Osaki is the study coordinator for the MAISHA study. She is responsible for managing the day to day implementation of study activities. Haika’s background is in Sociology (BA) and Public Health (MPH). She previously worked as a research scientist at the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Mwanza. Her research interests are in adolescent reproductive health and the mental wellbeing of people living with HIV.

Jane Rogathi, Ph.D. is an investigator at the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute and previously served as the study coordinator. She has a nursing background and completed research for her PhD on intimate partner violence affecting women during pregnancy and after childbirth.  Her research interests are in reproductive and mental health.

Linda Minja is an assistant statistician at Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (KCRI). As a data manager on the MAISHA study and stigma studies, she ensures that the data collected is accurate and complete. She also oversees data entry, conducts data analysis, and assists with manuscript preparation for the KCRI team. Her research interests are in quantitative modeling.

Elizabeth Kussaga is the study administrator on the MAISHA team at KCRI. She has been an integral part of the operations of the study, including budgeting, documentation, and administration of the grant funding. Eliza’s attention to detail, responsiveness, and pleasant working style are a true asset to the study.

Ismail Amiri is a social scientist with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Psychology. His interests are in HIV, specifically in reducing stigma and engaging high risk populations. He has years of experience  working with governmental and non-governmental HIV/AIDS organizations . Ismail serves as a counselor at the Pasua Health Centre for the MAISHA study.

Eva Olomi is a social worker with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. Previously, Eva worked with an NGO that focuses on orphans, vulnerable children, and most vulnerable children (OVC‘s and MVC‘s). She has also worked with street children, women living with HIV/AIDs and women on village and saving loan associations. She has passion for working with women living with HIV/AIDS– particularly those experiencing difficulties in attaining psychosocial support. For the MAISHA study, Eva is a data collector at the Pasua Health Centre.

Joseph C. Kiwale is a data collector for the MAISHA study. Joseph has a Bachelor’s degree in Law from Mzumbe University. He started working as a volunteer at KCRI where he developed a strong interest in research activities.


Betina Licky is a social worker with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Diploma in Community Development. She has previously worked as a research assistant and social worker at MUHAS and Muhimbili National Hospital, respectively. Betina is currently a counselor for the MAISHA study, based at the Majengo Health Centre. Her research interests are in HIV among vulnerable populations.

Hashim Mdetele is a community development officer with five years of experience in public health research, particularly in HIV/ AIDs and Family Planning. Hashim is currently a research assistant and data collector for the MAISHA study at Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (KCRI) where he facilitates recruitment and follow up of study participants. He also contributes to data collection and data management. Hashim is based at the Majengo Health Centre. His research interests are in general public health.

Jenny Renju, Ph.D. is a senior lecturer at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College and an Assistant Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr. Renju is a social epidemiologist who  has lived and worked in sub-Saharan Africa for over 14 years. Her research work has focused on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health and HIV policy implementation across the region. Dr. Renju serves as a consultant on the Stigma study, providing in-country technical support on the conceptualization and implementation of the intervention.

Duke Team

Godfrey Kisigo is a graduate student at the Duke Global Health Institute and a Tanzanian medical doctor. He previously worked at Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute (KCRI) as a Research Fellow and served as the Study Coordinator for Option B+, where he managed study activities at KCRI and led data collection and data management. Godfrey’s research interests include reproductive health and improving care models for HIV/AIDS.

Preeti Manavalan is an Infectious Diseases and Global Health Pathway Fellow at Duke University and earned her MD from Howard University. She joined the Option B+ team in 2017 during the research year of her Infectious Diseases fellowship and has helped with data collection, data analysis and dissemination of findings. Her research interests include the development of sustainable, high quality care models for people living with HIV and non-communicable diseases in resource-limited settings.

Brandon Knettel is a postdoctoral associate at the Duke Global Health Institute and a licensed psychologist. On the study, he coordinates data management and analysis for the Duke team and assists with dissemination of findings. His primary research interests are in developing and implementing mental health interventions for under-resourced populations.

Rimel Mwamba is an NIH Diversity Supplement recipient to the MAISHA study where she is receiving research training. As part of her training, Rimel is developing expertise in stigma-oriented behavioral interventions, acquiring a foundation of research ethics, and completing an independent research study on HIV disclosure. Her interests include healthcare engagement among African refugee populations with a focus on infectious disease.

Saumya Sao is a fourth-year undergraduate student at Duke University where she is majoring in Global Health and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. Saumya is interested in examining how constructions of gender impact and determine health and educational outcomes, as well as stigmatize vulnerable populations. Her broader research interests include sexual and reproductive health and family planning.

Charity Agasaro is a third-year undergraduate student at Duke University where she is studying Global Health and International Comparative Studies. Her areas of interest are reproductive health and structural violence specifically how it hinders women and marginalized communities from access to services.

Prior trainees and staff

Lizzy Knippler is a Master of Public Health student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lizzy previously served as the study coordinator at the Duke Global Health Institute, managing the implementation of the stigma study, supporting the development of the study protocol and materials, and coordinating between the KCMC and Duke teams. Her interests include the development and implementation of locally-driven interventions to support women’s health, with the goal of informing local health systems and policy.

Cody Cichowitz is a medical student at Johns Hopkins University. He joined the DGHI and Option B+ team in 2016-2017 as a Doris Duke International Clinical Research Fellow and has assisted with coordinating the study team, developing study procedures and protocols, analyzing data, and disseminating findings. His research interests center around the delivery of health care in low-and-middle income countries and transitions in care for people living with chronic diseases.

Lilian Chumba worked on the team from 2016-2018 as a graduate student research assistant at the Duke Global Health Institute, contributing to  data collection on the facility- and provider-level data, analysis, and manuscript writing. Her areas of interest include maternal and child health, health systems interventions, and implementation science. She is a trained medical doctor from Kenya.

Martha Oshosen worked on the Option B+ and Stigma studies as a research assistant at Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute with a Master’s degree in Public Health. On the Option B+ study, Martha conducted in-depth interviews and assisted with abstraction of data from patient medical records. Her primary areas of interest are in qualitative research approaches, qualitative data analysis, and academic writing with a focus on implementation science.

Pilli Nyindo worked on the Option B+ study as a research nurse assisting with study enrollment, data collection, and engagement with the study cohort. Pilli is an experienced researcher and strong advocate for improving care for patients.


Monica Kessy worked on the Option B+ study as a research nurse assisting with study enrollment, data collection, and engagement with the study cohort. Monica has been an integral part of the study team and has a goal of pursuing graduate education in health research.

Veneranda Mariki worked on the Option B+ study as a research nurse assisting with study enrollment, data collection, and engagement with the study cohort. Sister Mariki creates close ties with patients, which has been a key factor in high rates of follow up in the study cohort.