Start main page content

Biostatistician measures up as new Head of School of Public Health at Wits

- Wits Communications

Associate Professor Tobias Chirwa has been appointed as Head of the School of Public Health at Wits, effective 1 February 2017.

Chirwa is a biostatistician and currently Head of the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. This is the branch of statistics concerned with the analysis and interpretation of scientific data generated in the biological and health sciences to inform clinical or health policy and practice.

Chirwa has exceptional credentials in infectious disease epidemiology and non-communicable diseases. He has a special research interest in HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. Prior to joining Wits, he was a research Fellow in medical statistics in the Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He later worked on this School’s research projects in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Chirwa has contributed to over 50 peer-reviewed publications and has initiated and completed research with the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Centre for Health Policy, MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), and Wits Health Consortium.

He has been the statistician for more than 30 research projects and in 2015 was one of just seven African researchers to receive a portion of a R70 million (£3.337 million) funding injection from the Wellcome Trust and the Department for International Development in the UK.

Funding to the amount of £46 million over five years was awarded through the DELTAS Africa scheme. DELTAS is the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science Initiative, which aims to establish world-class research environments at African universities and training opportunities for the next generation of researchers.

Prof. Tobias Chirwa has been appointed Head of the School of Public Health at Wits, effective 1 February 2017

When Chirwa takes the helm in the School of Public Health, he intends to leverage his network and collaborations in Africa and aboard to further strengthen the School’s footprint.

“I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to lead such a reputable School of Public Health. I will build on existing strengths of the School, use my network of colleagues and collaborations within the African region and overseas, and capitalise on synergies and resources to further strengthen the footprint of the School. I look forward to contributing to the Faculty’s strategic goals and I am committed to the transformation process, ensuring we continue to improve our stature as a leader in public health education and research,” says Chirwa.

He succeeds Prof. Laetitia Rispel, who will take up a SARChI Chair in Research on the Health Workforce.