Scientific Leadership Group

The Scientific Leadership Group (SLG) is charged with ensuring that the programme meets the obligations of its sponsors while fulfilling its mission and long-term goals. Its objectives include but not limited to

  • Monitoring the operating, administrative and financial performance of the CTU by ensuring that approved budgets are followed for all research activities.
  • Identifying external collaborative partners, ensure sound fiscal management.
  • Implementing the policy and strategy for the CTU and deal with all operational matters affecting the CTU.
  • Providing technical support and data for evidence-based policy recommendation to the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC)

The SLG comprises of Principal Investigators (PIs) for protocols covering 6 Networks:

  • Prof Zvavahera Mike Chirenje, Chairman.
  • Dr Lynda Stranix-Chibanda Secretary
  • Dr F Mhlanga, Committee member.
  • Prof Michael Mbizvo, Committee member.
  • Prof Chiedza Maponga, Committee member.
  • Prof Margaret Borok, Committee member.
  • Prof Mutsa Bwakura, Committee member.
  • Dr Nyaradzo Mgodi, Committee member.
  • Dr T Nematadzira, Committee member.
  • Dr W Samaneka, Committee member.
  • Dr T Chawana – Committee member.

Others by invitation include.

  • Roseline Zigomo (Legal expert).
  • Margaret Mukoki – Research Administrative Director,
  • Allen T Matubu – Laboratory Director,
  • Gift T Chareka – Assistant Scientific Director

Z M. Chirenje, MD, FRCOG 

  • CTU PI, University of Zimbabwe – Clinical Trials Research Center (UZ-CTRC)
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, USA
  • Professor, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. University of Zimbabwe (UZ)

In 1994, Dr. Chirenje was one of the founding members of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded University of Zimbabwe – Clinical Trials Research Centre (UZ-CTRC), formerly University of Zimbabwe – University of California, San Francisco (UZ-UCSF) Collaborative Research Programme in Women’s Health. At this facility he conducts which conducts high impact research addressing HIV prevention and treatment, TB, and other public health threats and assisting in policy implementation. , with particular emphasis on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and HIV vaccine development and was instrumental in the establishment of the first HIV vaccine research capacity in Zimbabwe in 2017.He provides leadership that promotes high quality research for 4 NIH sponsored networks of ACTG, IMPAACT, HPTN and HVTN. Over the past 26 years,Dr Chirenje has overseen the development of a centralized research support unit that coordinates fiscal management and executes NIH protocols at the highest level of data capture and retention of participants with a solid track record of scientific publications that has assisted in policy implementation for Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health. His long-standing research focus has included evaluating the optimal performance of cervical cancer screening tests in low resource settings, cervical cancer screening and impact of HIV on HPV infections among women, finding safe and effective biomedical HIV prevention interventions for women, STI testing and treatment. Dr. Chirenje was Principal Investigator for a large protocol that screened 11,000 women in Harare, which became an international milestone study demonstrating the effectiveness of visual inspection with acetic acid (VIA) in screening for cervical cancer in low resource settings.

Areas of Interest: 

  • Evaluation of cervical cancer screening & treatment modalities in low resource settings.
  • Implementation of HPV vaccination & HPV testing programmes in low resource settings.
  • Evaluation of best biomedical HIV prevention methods among women (conducting pivotal HIV prevention trials on topical microbicides & PrEP).
  • HIV vaccine safety & efficacy trials.
  • COVID-19 vaccine safety & efficacy trials

Dr Lynda Stranix-Chibanda MBChB, MMed is the UZ-CTRC Research Scientific Director and a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences in the Child and Adolescent Health Unit. She is the site leader at Seke North Clinical Research Site (CRS), having over 20 years’ experience providing HIV services at primary care level and conducting clinical trials among children, adolescents and pregnant women to prevent and treat HIV and its co-morbidities. Dr Stranix-Chibanda contributes to scientific committees within the Network leadership for IMPAACT, HPTN and HVTN. She served as protocol co-chair for three protocols evaluating PrEP in pregnancy and long acting injectable cabotegravir in adolescents. Under her leadership, the Seke North CRS has received recognition for excellent trial conduct in multiple perinatal studies aiming to optimize ART for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Dr Stranix-Chibanda has been a member of the national ethics committee, the National Health Research technical working group, and national and global technical working groups related to HIV and pregnancy. Over the last 7 years she mentored 5 early-stage investigators within the CTU, 5 PHD candidates and 3 MPhil candidates at the University of Zimbabwe, and 3 US medical students.

Michael Mbizvo, PhD, is one of the founding members of UZ-CTRC and has more than 15 years of research experience as a laboratory scientist and another 15 years as a senior research advisor at WHO. His research expertise includes microbicides development and reproductive issues among men.                                                                                                                                           



Felix Muhlanga, MBChB, MMed, is the UZ-CTRC PI overseeing the expansion centralized research support unit in Zimbabwe and a lecturer of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UZFMHS.He is also the CRS Leader for the Spilhaus Clinical Research Site. Dr Mhlanga is an experienced colposcopist and reproductive health researcher directing scientific publications that assist in local, national, and international policy formulations and managing the operational and scientific oversight of high-level quality clinical research. He has conducted Phase II/III Microbicides clinical trials and was a protocol co-chair for the MTN-018C sub-study.

Joelle Brown, MPH PhD is and epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, and Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. She has more than 20 years of experience conducting health research in Zimbabwe in collaboration with the UZ-CTRC. Her research and expertise include reproductive health and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, clinical trials, implementation science, and safer conception strategies for HIV-affected women and couples. She has worked in global reproductive health research, implementation, and policy activities for 20 years, and has authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications.


Roseline Zigomo, LL.B., LL.M., has over 19 years of experience in human rights advocacy, promoting democracy and governance, and working on institutional rule of law reforms. She has proven experience in international programmatic management and support, and is currently the Principal Director of Government and Legal Affairs for the Prime Minister’s Office in the Government of Zimbabwe. Ms. Zigomo has been a non-voting local advisory member of the SLG for legal matters since 2011.

Local Investigators

In addition to the Scientific Leadership Group, UZ-CTRC relies on local investigators, each with highly specialized research interests and focus areas, for successful implementation of high quality, ethically sound clinical research studies.  Below is a list of senior clinical research personnel:

Margaret Borok, MD, FRCP is a Professor of Internal Medicine at the UZFMHS, with 20 years experience in clinical research and research management and manages the only referral clinic for patients with AIDS and Kaposi Sarcoma (KS). She is a committee member of the Strategies to Improve Kaposi Sarcoma (KS) Outcomes in Zimbabwe (SIKO) initiative. She sits on the international committee and KS working group of the AIDS Malignancy Consortium (AMC) under the NCI (National Cancer Institute) of the NIH. She has 27 publications that include peer-reviewed articles.

Mutsawashe Bwakura-Dangarembizi, MBChB, MMed, MSc, is a pediatrician at UZFMHS, with 10 years of experience in pediatric HIV clinical trials and was instrumental in the establishment of a children’s HIV clinic at the Family Care Centre at Parirenyatwa Hospital.  She is member of the IMPAACT Network Executive Committee (NEC).

Tsitsi Magure, MBChB, MMed, is a lecturer at UZFMHS, with over eight years of experience in protocol development and implementation of HIV clinical trials, with particular interest in the prevention of HIV in women and HPV acquisition.

Chiedza Charles Maponga, PharmD, PHPE, is a Clinical Pharmacy Professor with 29 years-experience in Pharmacy Practice and is Director of the School of Pharmacy at UZFMHS. He serves as Consultant Pharmacy Director for UZ-CTRC, where he oversees pharmacy establishment plans, drug regulatory matters, supply chain management, and clinical pharmacology related issues.  He is Principal Investigator and Director of the Fogarty AIDS International Training and Research Program (AITRP) program which supports implementation of a postgraduate training initiative with an emphasis on HIV and AIDS clinical pharmacology between the University at Buffalo (UB) and the University of Zimbabwe (UZ).  He has published over 37 publications which include peer-reviewed articles.

Nyaradzo Mavis Mgodi, BSc, MBChB, MMed, is a Clinical Pathologist, with six years experience in the conduct and administration of clinical trials. She is the CRS Leader for Zengeza CRS and has been instrumental in the completion of two HIV prevention clinical trials.  She has co-authored one peer-reviewed article, delivered an oral presentation at the Microbicides 2012 meeting in Sydney, Australia, as well as three poster abstracts and one book review.

Hilda A Mujuru, MBChB, MMED, MSc (Clin. Epid), is a pediatrician at the UZFMHS, with 16 years of research experience and  established the first HIV adolescent clinic in Harare.   She is a member of the Zimbabwe National Medicines Therapeutic and Policy Advisory Committee, is a member of the Ministry of Health Zimbabwe TB/HIV subcommittee, and a member of the National Childhood TB Technical Working Group. She has assisted in developing national guidelines on pediatric HIV management. She is currently a member of the Inflammatory Syndrome for International Sites Query Group for the IMPAACT Network.

Wadzanai Samaneka, MBChB, MSc (Clin. Epid), Senior Medical Officer, is an investigator and Clinical Epidemiologist with seven years of experience in clinical research, with experience in managing HIV co-morbidities.