Meet the vectors, environment and society (VES) team!

Yeya Touré, team leader

Responsible for overseeing the unit’s strategy and direction.

Yeya joined TDR in June 2001 with considerable civil service experience (over 27 years) at the University of Mali as professor of cell biology and genetics and researcher in medical entomology. His highlights of working at TDR have included the publication of the Anopheles gambiae (vector of malaria) genome in 2002 under TDR coordination and facilitation and, between 2006 and 2008, supporting bioinformatics and functional genomics training centres in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Yeya values interactions between people of diverse expertise and culture. Commenting on the road ahead, he states, “Some of our biggest challenges will be to get the scientific evidence from research used to inform policy, to get new and improved control tools made available to communities in a sustainable manner, and to ensure that control tools are adequately applied.”

Telephone: (+41) 22 791 3884

Flor Cabanel, assistant

Provides administrative support to the vectors, environment and society research unit’s activities.

Flor joined TDR in July 2002 with a long and solid multilingual and administrative background. Her highlights of working at TDR include being part of the team that carried out multi-country studies on visceral leishmaniasis and dengue. She appreciates the current studies that VES is working on – particularly the eco-bio-social research projects – and is looking forward to the publications arising from these studies. When asked to comment about the lessons that she has learnt during her career, she states with a smile, “Always be prepared for the unexpected!”

Telephone: (+41) 22 791 2944

Madhavi Jaccard-Sahgal, assistant

Provides administrative support to the vectors, environment and society research unit’s activities.

Madhavi has worked at TDR for 23 years, having graduated from the Ecole supérieure d’Interprètes et de Traducteurs (ESIT) in Paris. She has both translation and administrative experience gained in India and Switzerland. Commenting on when she’d first joined TDR, she states: “I’d never seen such a fantastic programme before!” Madhavi’s highlights at TDR have included working with her first boss, Dr Javid Hashmi from Pakistan, and working on capacity building grants, especially re-entry grants. “I really value TDR’s dynamism and contribution over the years,” she comments, adding “I work with great colleagues, and within TDR there is a real spirit of togetherness!”

Telephone: (+41) 22 791 3907

Bernadette Ramirez, scientist

Bernadette Ramirez, scientist

Provides support for and coordinates projects studying population health vulnerabilities to vector-borne diseases and ways to increase population resilience against the impact of climate change in Africa.

Bernadette joined TDR in June 2007 with over 20 years academic and research experience in health product innovation, drug discovery, vaccines and the development of diagnostics for infectious tropical diseases. A former TDR grantee herself, she is fully aware of the challenges faced by individual researchers on the ground. Bernadette enjoys working with colleagues who are driven, motivated and passionate about what they do. “I derive my inspiration from working with a great team that believes in the value and significance of our work,” she states, adding, “when there is commitment and a shared purpose among teams, we create a work environment that is conducive to achieving goals. We are a small team, but big on dreams and goals!”

Telephone: (+41) 22 791 1060 

Johannes Sommerfeld, scientist

Manages research on community-based interventions for the control and prevention of infectious diseases of poverty.

Johannes joined TDR in 2000 after working in academia in the USA (Harvard University) and in Germany (University of Heidelberg) for ten years. He has a broad health social science background, with training in cultural and medical anthropology, sociology, economics and public health. Johannes is proud of being part of TDR’s longstanding track record in social and economic research applied to public health, including TDRs research portfolio on community-directed interventions. He is keen to highlight large-scale social and environmental determinants of health that impact the emergence, persistence and control of infectious diseases of poverty. In the unit, he is particularly interested in research at the interface of society and environment. Reflecting on his work at TDR, he states: “It is a great privilege of doing this exciting work in an international, United Nations-based organization with partners and colleagues from all over the world!”

Telephone: (+41) 22 791 3954


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