Professor Said Aboud, a medical doctor and virologist who rose to fame at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Tanzania, has taken over the leadership of the country’s largest public health research institution—the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)—as Director General.
Prof Aboud becomes the 5th Director General and the second medical doctor after Prof. Andrew Kitua (1997-2009), to head NIMR. He was appointed on Thursday October 20 by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, replacing Prof Yunus Mgaya, a marine biologist who, according to Statehouse, completed his tenure in September, 2022.
Key link in COVID fight
In May 2021, as Tanzania went all-out to avert the third wave of COVID-19, Prof Aboud led a committee of scientists under the Special National Committee for Evaluation of COVID-19 Pandemic in Tanzania to compile a 19-point report that advised the government to scale up public health measures and take a science-based response approach against the pandemic.
A year earlier, during the late John Magufuli’s administration, Prof Aboud was also part of the 10-member team formed to investigate the alleged COVID-19 testing controversy at the National Public Health Laboratory.
Prior to major appointment
He has been working at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in the capacity of Acting Director of Planning, Finance and Administration until the time of his latest presidential appointment.
NIMR is a state-owned institution with the mandate to carry out, promote, monitor, control, coordinate and evaluate health research. Since 1980, NIMR has had five Directors General, Prof. Wenceslaus L. Kilama (1980-1997), Dr. Andrew Y. Kitua (1997-2009) and the late Dr. Mwelecele N. Malecela(2010-20160 Prof Yunus Mgaya(2016-2022). Prof Aboud, the 5th, assumed the role and the institution’s new head since October 19. Aboud assumed the role and the institution’s new head since October 19.
Prof. Aboud has 20 years of experience in HIV research, including HIV diagnosis and disease monitoring, HIV drug resistance testing, HIV and nutrition, HIV pathogenesis and genotyping, and HIV vaccinology. He is regarded as one of Tanzania’s few “treasured intellectuals.”
He holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Infection Biology from Karolinska Institute – Sweden, a Masters of Medicine degree in Microbiology of the University of Dar es Salaam, a Masters of Philosophy degree in Health Sciences (Immunology) from the University of Bergen – Norway, and a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Dar es Salaam.
He has served as the Laboratory Coordinator since 2004 for the Harvard PEPFAR HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Program in Tanzania and in that capacity has been involved in the planning and monitoring of laboratory testing related to HIV diagnosis and care, has conducted lab trainings, and provided supportive supervision for all laboratory activities.
For 10 years, he has served as the Laboratory Manager and Laboratory Director of the Harvard Muhimbili Partnership Research Laboratory at MUHAS and has been instrumental in developing QA/QC standardized operating procedures for laboratory assays and protocols for several large-scale international clinical trials.
Clinical research & leadership
Prof. Aboud has immense experience in clinical research and management. He has mentored and supervised several dissertations and theses, in addition to his vast research experience in malaria, tuberculosis, and antimicrobial resistance.
He has served in numerous administrative positions relating to medicines regulation and clinical research in several institutions such as, member of TFDA (now known as TMDA)Vaccines Technical Committee (Nov 2005 – Dec 2008), member and Chair of TFDA Human Medicines Registration Technical Committee (Dec 2008 – Nov 2011), Member of Ministerial Advisory Board (MAB) of TFDA (Jun 2016 – Jun 2019), Member of Ministry of Health and Social Welfare HIV Testing Evaluation Technical Committee, Member of Laboratory Quality Systems, Global Fund Activities Steering Committee at MUHAS from 2005 to date and Member of Kenya AIDs Vaccines Initiative (KAVI) Steering Board (Oct 2011 – Sep 2013).
He was also Chair of Tanzania Working Group for the Global Antibiotics Resistance Partnership (GARP), Member of Committee on Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) – Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (2013 to date), Member of National Polio Preparedness Task Force (NPPTF) and National Polio Expert Committee (NPEC) (2013 to date), Member of WHO Advisory Group of the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework, Member of Board of Trustees of Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI), Member of the Private Health Laboratories Board (PHLB), Member of National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (NITAG) and Health Technologies Assessment Committee of the Ministry of Health.
He has more than 100 published papers as first and co- author in scientific publications. He has a huge experience in management of national and international issues in medicines and clinical research.