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Meet our Emerging Leaders

Emily Atkins PhD

Emily is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Cardiovascular Division at The George Institute for Global Health. She completed her undergraduate (BHlthSc, 1st class Hons) and postgraduate studies (PhD) at the University of Western Australia. Emily’s PhD studies used linked administrative hospital morbidity, deaths, and pharmacy data to investigate the cost-effectiveness of cardiovascular medicines for secondary prevention of atherothrombotic disease. Her current work is focused on the use of combination pills, their impact on cardiovascular risk-factor control, and their use in high- and low-resource settings.

Godsent Isiguzo

Lilian Mbau MBChB, MPH, MBA

Dr. Lilian Mbau is a medical doctor and a public health practitioner working with Amref Health Africa in Kenya. She currently leads the Non-communicable Disease (NCD) programming within the organization. She received a Global Executive Master of Business Administration in Health from United States International University and is completing her Master of Public Health degree from Moi University. She is currently researching on effective models to sustainably deliver non-communicable disease interventions in low resource settings with a focus on integration. Dr. Mbau has also recently completed a Global Health Leadership Fellowship program with the Afya Bora Consortium and is also an awardee for a Cancer Advocacy grant from the American Cancer Society. She has also received training on Global Issues on NCDs at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Augustine Odili MBBS, FMCP

Augustine Odili is an associate professor and consultant cardiologist in the department of Internal Medicine, University of Abuja and University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Abuja.  He is formerly the Deputy Dean, Faculty of Clinical Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Abuja. Dr. Odili graduated from the prestigious University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus with a distinction in Medical Physiology. He had his postgraduate training at the Jos University Teaching Hospital under the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria from where he graduated in 2006 with two awards viz the Best Part II and the Best Overall Candidate in Internal Medicine. He won various other scholarships through which he acquired further training in Internal Medicine, Clinical Cardiology and Cardiovascular Epidemiology. These include the Royal College of Physicians visiting Fellowship to St. Thomas Hospital, London, the Coimbra Group Scholarship for Young African Scholars to University of Leuven, Belgium; International Fellowship on Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Prevention at Hydrabad India.


Augustine’s research interest is in cardiovascular epidemiology with special focus on Masked Hypertension and effect of salt on blood pressure. He initiated and has been the principal investigator of three research projects viz: REMAH (REmoving the MAsk on Hypertension), NIPREGH (Nigerian Population Research on Environment Gene and Health) and Nigerian Salt Survey. He is a member of a number of international research consortia including the International Database on HOme Blood Pressure in relation to Cardiovascular Outcome (IDHOCO), International Database on Ambulatory Blood Pressure in relation to Cardiovascular Outcome (IDACO) and European Project of Gene in Hypertension (EPOGH). He was part of the team that conducted the first multinational clinical antihypertensive drug trial in sub-Saharan Africa; the Newer vs Older Antihypertensive Agents in African Hypertensive Patients (NOAAH).
He is a member of the editorial board of many local and international journals including the European Medical Journal (EMJ) and Nigerian Journal of Cardiology (NJC). He is a reviewer for Hypertension, Blood Pressure Monitoring, Blood Pressure, Journal of Hypertension and BMC Cardiovascular Disorders. He is currently the National Vice President, Nigerian Hypertension Society and the Assistant Secretary General of Nigerian Cardiac Society and was formerly a member of the Media group of the New Investigators Network of International Society of Hypertension. He sits in the board of the Anglican Hospital ltd Kubwa, Abuja.

Rajmohan Panda MD, MPH

Dr. Rajmohan Panda (Raj) is a Senior Public Health Specialist and Additional Professor at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). He is a preventive medicine specialist with further training in global health leadership at Emory University in the USA. Dr Panda is adept in leading operational research projects in India and had considerable experience in the application of mixed methodology, epidemiological study designs in various projects in health systems strengthening in India. He has led many projects in tobacco control including a health system intervention project by BMGF on Strengthening of Tobacco control. A significant part of the research work has been in producing evidence for low-cost models for primary prevention of CVD and other diseases through integrating tobacco cessation in health systems. Examples of effectiveness of this work is evident from the scaling up of tobacco cessation programs across the country from pilots, establishing a research and practice platform for tobacco cessation in the country, costing for essential health packages in different states in India and collaborating with national technical agencies for developing guidelines for strategic purchasing for the country. Recent work through a PFIZER Independent grants for learning and change (IGLC) as well as through a grant funded by MRC UK  will help test innovative ideas for prevention of cardiovascular risk factors (including tobacco cessation interventions) using low-cost mobile technology. The larger vision of research grants is to establish the evidence for an innovative low-cost model for tobacco cessation across primary care and NCD clinics in India and finally across South Asia. All projects are embedded within government programs and produce evidence through “realistic evaluation” with cost effective data for suitable scale up.  Dr Panda has a certificate in Global Tobacco Control Leadership Program from the Institute for Global Tobacco Control, JHSPH, 2013 and a fellowship from the Public Health Leadership and Implementation Academy (PH-LEADER) for NCDs at Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta in 2014.

Shiva Raj Mishra MPH

Shiva Raj Mishra, is a cardiovascular epidemiologist, trained in Australia and Nepal. He is a recipient of prestigious Australia Award Scholarship from 2015-2016.


Shiva has interests in global Non-communicable diseases and medicine policies research in low-income setting with emphasis on cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. He also wrote prolifically on the disaster response and recovery on the aftermath of Nepal earthquakes contributing to several publications. He is the founding Chief Editor of The Health Prospect and Assoc. Editor of BMC Public Health. Also, he served as a commissioner at The Lancet Youth Commission on Essential Medicine Policies from 2015-2016, and freelance writer for The Lancet, The Lancet Diabetes Endocrinology and WHO Bulletin contributing to several news features from 2015-16.


In Nepal, he is affiliated with Nepal Development Society, a community-NGO as a founding member and research advisor since 2014.

Karla Santo MD

Karla is a cardiologist from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She graduated in medicine in 2008 at the University of the State of Rio de Janeiro. She completed her medical training in internal medicine in 2011, her cardiology training in 2013, both in Brazil; and she is currently a fellow of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology. After completing her medical training, her strong desire to continuously develop herself and improve her research skills has led her to pursue a PhD degree in Australia. Karla is currently on the last year of her PhD candidature with the Cardiovascular Division at The George Institute for Global Health and the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, funded by an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship and an Australian Postgraduate Award.


Her research interests are prevention of cardiovascular disease. Her drive and passion to impact lives has led to her interest in how technology can be used to improve cardiovascular health, especially the use of mobile technologies for behavioural change and improvement in medica-tion adherence. Her experience in mHealth research includes being part of the team that conducted a successful randomised clinical trial that investigated the use of lifestyle-focused text-messages on risk factor modification in patients with coronary heart disease, published in JAMA. The 2016-2017 Emerging Leaders Program’s focus on access to essential medicine relates directly to her PhD research focus, which is improving medication adherence using mobile devices. Currently, Karla is working on another randomised controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of smartphone apps in improving adherence. She has pioneered a systematic stepwise process to identify high-quality medication adherence apps available in the online stores, being able to identify two high-quality apps to be studied in this trial. The innovative concept of this project has recently been recognised by the National Heart Foundation of Australia through a competitive research grant scheme.

Salim Virani MD, PhD

Salim S. Virani, MD, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Cardiovascular Research Section at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He is a Cardiologist with specialized training in Lipids. His research portfolio aims to understand several domains in the delivery of high quality cardiovascular care (especially risk factor control) including effectiveness, equity, safety, and efficiency. Via funded research grants from the American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association, his team is evaluating whether a strategy of primary care delivery for chronic diseases by advanced practice providers (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) is comparable to that delivered by physicians. His team is also evaluating how best to leverage technology to deliver high-quality care. In this regard, his team is evaluating whether a culturally sensitive text-message based intervention delivered on mobile phones can improve health literacy and medication adherence in patients with cardiovascular disease in Pakistan. His team is also involved in a project in Tajikistan which aims to improve hypertension care delivery in the remote Gorno Badakshan district. He is involved in research and clinical capacity building with institutions in East Africa, South East Asia and Central Asia. He has authored or co-authored >200 peer-reviewed publications with several in high-impact journals such as Circulation, European Heart Journal, JAMA Internal Medicine, JAMA Cardiology, and Journal of the American College of Cardiology.


He has been a recipient of the Scott Grundy Award for Excellence in Lipids Metabolism Research from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Jeremiah Stamler Distinguished Young Investigator Research Award. Dr. Virani serves on the AHA’s Statistics Committee, the AHA’s Prevention Science Committee, and as the Chair for the Research and Publications Committee of the American College of Cardiology’s (ACC) PINNACLE Registry. He also serves as the Associate Editor for Innovations for and the Editorial Lead for the prevention related content for the ACC’s educational website.