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Arnold School of Public Health

Mufaro Kanyangarara boosts Arnold School’s global health and infectious diseases expertise

March 17, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

“The arrival of Dr. Mufaro Kanyangarara is simply transformative for the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics,” Chair Anthony Alberg says of the infectious disease expert who joined the department in 2019 as an assistant professor.  “The breadth and depth of her expertise in global health and infectious disease epidemiology opens up new doors for the department’s educational and research programs, and significantly enhances our capability to address these critical public issues.”

Kanyangarara began her impressive career trajectory when she encountered her first opportunity to work hands-on in public health as an undergraduate studying at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. It was the summer of 2006, and the statistics major worked as an intern for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Zimbabwe.

“During my internship, I supported the HIV programs officer with the design and implementation of a pilot study to assess the feasibility of integrating prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission services with routine child immunization services,” Kanyangarara says. “My background in statistics and growing interest in public health led me pursue graduate studies in biostatistics.”

Kanyangarara then completed a Master of Science in Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she was selected as a Presidential Scholar and became engaged with several projects that would shape her future interests in public health. She worked on one project that used generalized additive models to assess factors associated with malaria mortality among children in Malawi and also conducted analyses to assess the impact of HIV exposure on child growth and neurodevelopment outcomes in a randomized controlled trial in Botswana. Kanyangarara continued to expand her analytical skills by providing analytical support for diverse global health projects (e.g., implementation of a community-based drought early warning system in Ethiopia).

After earning her master’s degree, Kanyangarara worked as a data manager for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief Program in Tanzania, which was led by Harvard University. Prior to returning to graduate school to pursue a doctoral degree at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, she was selected as an HIV Scholar by HIV Research Trust in the United Kingdom. As a Ph.D. candidate in the global disease and epidemiology and control program in the Department of International Health, Kanyangarara received multiple honors and awards including the Robert D. and Helen S. Wright Award, Research to Prevention Doctoral Student Publication Award and Thesis Publication Award.

Following her graduation, Kanyangarara joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins as an assistant scientist and began contributing to numerous research projects in the Department of International Health. During this time, she served as principal investigator on a project examining malaria transmission along the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border and was the co-investigator for a study to improve the measurement of mortality in low and middle-income countries. In addition to providing technical support for the Southern and Central African International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research project, she was instrumental in leading analyses to guide revisions for the Lives Saved Tool – a model to monitor and estimate the impact of maternal and child health interventions in low-resource settings. While building her research portfolio, Kanyangarara also made contributions to teaching and mentoring and was awarded an Education Innovation grant.

“The arrival of Dr. Kangyangarara is simply transformative for our department,” says Anthony Alberg, chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.  “The breadth and depth of her expertise in global health and infectious disease epidemiology opens up new doors for the department’s educational and research programs and significantly enhances our capability to address these critical public issues.”

In October 2019, Kanyangarara joined the Arnold School of Public Health to continue advancing her research in the areas of global health and infectious diseases, particularly those affecting mothers, newborns and children in low- and middle-income countries. She will share her expertise with students by teaching courses in public health surveillance and infectious disease epidemiology.

“What has impressed me the most about the Arnold School is the commitment to improving public health through high-quality research, teaching and service, as this resonates with my own desire that my research provides evidence for public health action,” Kanyangarara says. “I am most looking forward to the opportunity to develop curriculum and engage students in research focused on infectious disease epidemiology.”

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