Dr Shelley Lees PhD

Associate Professor in Anthropology of Gender, Violence and HIV


The main focus of my research is exploring gender, violence, and HIV. Through anthropological research conducted with participants in HIV and GBV trials in Tanzania, which aim to empower women, I am exploring what impact such trials have on Tanzanian women's power. With 20 years of working and living in Tanzania I am developing an in-depth understanding of changes in Tanzanian women's power, and how this is impacted on by scientific endeavours, such as the trials, as well as social and economic development. Further to this I am interested in understanding women's power in relation to concepts of uncertainty and hope.

I am also exploring the role on anthropology in clinical and community-based trials, especially to reveal broader ethical considerations of trials. For this purpose I am leading anthropological research into an Ebola Virus Disease trial in Sierra Leone.




I have taught on a number of modules including Primary Health Care, Principles of Social Research, and Health Policy, Process and Power. I am currently co organiser for the Medical Anthropology and Public Health module.


I am currently working on a number of trials including the Maisha trial in North West Tanzania which is exploring whether the provision of participatory gender training alone or in combination with microfinance reduces gender-based violence amongst women (http://strive.lshtm.ac.uk/projects/maisha-microfinance-and-gender-training-reduce-violence-against-women). My key role is to explore women's everyday lives and experiences of intimate partner violence. I am also leading on the social science research for the EBOVAC1 trial in which we are exploring potential concerns and rumours that could impact on participation in the trial and the ethical conduct of the trial. Other research involves the exploration of sexual violence against children in Zanzibar. 

Research areas

  • Clinical trials
  • Ethics
  • Ethnography
  • Maternal health
  • Qualitative methods
  • Risk
  • Sexual health
  • Social and structural determinants of health


  • Anthropology

Disease and Health Conditions

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Zoonotic disease


  • Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)


  • Kenya
  • Sierra Leone
  • Tanzania

Other interests

  • Gender-based Violence
  • Microbicides
  • vaccine
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