Prof Shelley Lees

Professor Anthropology of Public Health

United Kingdom

With 25 years of working and living in Tanzania I have conducted anthropological studies to explore gender and power with a focus on sexuality and violence. My anthropological research on disease epidemics in Tanzania and Sierra Leone focuses local experiences of biomedical research and epidemic response. In this field, I also provide critical perspectives on biomedical practices.


Department of Global Health and Development
Faculty of Public Health and Policy


Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health
Vaccine Centre


I teach on the Medical Anthropology of Public Health module and Conflict and Health. I am also co-organiser of the Pandemic Preparedness Short Course which runs in February - March.


In Mwanza I was co-investigator and anthropological lead on the Maisha Trial ( I have also conducted research on sexual violence against children in Zanzibar with Karen Devries and Louise Knight, which has also explored constructions of childhood amongst the Swahili and IPV. I have also conducted research on cash transfers and IPV in Mali.

My research on anthropology of epidemics has included research on sexuality and HIV as part of a microbicides trial and more recently, research on young women's experiences of PrEP, both conducted in Mwanza, Tanzania. A more recent focus of my research has been on emergent epidemics, including Ebola. I am the lead anthropologist on the EBOVAC-Salone Trial ( and work package lead on the ALERRT consortium, focusing on the social science of community engagement ( I am also senior anthropologist with the UK-PHRST where the social science team conducts social science research, capacity building and deployment (
Our research group addressing the Politics and Anthropology of Violence and Epidemics, brings together all our research studies on violence and epidemics (
Research Area
Medical anthropology
Gender-based violence
Violence against women and girls
Disease and Health Conditions
Ebola virus
Marburg virus
Sierra Leone
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)

Selected Publications

How do children define violence and maltreatment in childhood? A systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative studies from sub-Saharan Africa
KELLY, S; Turner, E; ELDRED, E; Bouzanis, K; Gatuguta, A; Balliet, M; LEES, S; DEVRIES, K;
Safety and immunogenicity of the two-dose heterologous Ad26.ZEBOV and MVA-BN-Filo Ebola vaccine regimen in infants: a phase 2, randomised, double-blind, active-controlled trial in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
CHOI, EM-L; Lacarra, B; AFOLABI, MO; Ale, BM; Baiden, F; Bétard, C; Foster, J; Hamzé, B; Schwimmer, C; Manno, D; D'Ortenzio, E; Ishola, D; Keita, CM; Keshinro, B; Njie, Y; Van Dijck, W; Gaddah, A; Anumendem, D; Lowe, B; Vatrinet, R; Lawal, BJ; Otieno, GT; Samai, M; Deen, GF; Swaray, IB; ... EBOVAC-3/EBL2005 Study Team,
The Lancet Global health
MAISHA Study CRT01: Baseline and follow-up data
ABRAMSKY, T; HARVEY, S; LEES, S; KAPIGA, S; Mtolela, G; Madaha, F; Hanson, C; Hashim, R; Kapinga, I;
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
MAISHA Study CRT02: Baseline and follow-up data
ABRAMSKY, T; HARVEY, S; LEES, S; KAPIGA, S; Mtolela, G; Madaha, F; Hanson, C; Hashim, R; Kapinga, I;
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Conducting Social Science Research During Epidemics and Pandemics: Lessons Learnt.
Van Nuil, JI; Schmidt-Sane, M; Bowmer, A; Brindle, H; Chambers, M; Dien, R; Fricke, C; Hong, YN T; Kaawa-Mafigiri, D; Lewycka, S; Rijal, S; LEES, S;
Qualitative health research
Risk perception of Ebola virus disease and COVID-19 among transport drivers living in Ugandan border districts.
Blanco-Penedo, MJ; Brindle, H; Schmidt-Sane, M; Bowmer, A; Iradukunda, C; Mfitundinda, H; Rwemisisi, J; Mukiibi, GN; Fricke, C; Carter, S; Kaawa-Mafigiri, D; LEES, S;
Frontiers in public health
Reducing community prevalence of HPV by offering a single dose of HPV vaccine to boys and young men in Tanzania: the Add-Vacc cluster-randomised trial
WATSON-JONES, D; Changalucha, J; EWING, V; Whitworth, H; Pavon, M; KELLY, S; Kapiga, S; LEES, S; Dillner, J; Stanley, M; HAYES, R; BAISLEY, K;
International Papillomavirus Conference
Protection, health seeking, or a laissez-passer: Participants' decision-making in an EVD vaccine trial in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
James, M; Kasereka, JG; Kasiwa, B; Kavunga-Membo, H; KAMBALE, K; Grais, R; Muyembe-Tamfum, J-J; Bausch, DG; WATSON-JONES, D; LEES, S;
Social science & medicine (1982)
Factors associated with attendance to a participatory gender training programme - A secondary analysis of data from the MAISHA study.
McCulloch, F; Abramksy, T; Lawi, H; LEES, S; Mshana, G; KAPIGA, S; HARVEY, S;
Evaluation and program planning
Randomized Trial of Vaccines for Zaire Ebola Virus Disease.
PREVAC Study Team,; Kieh, M; Richert, L; Beavogui, AH; Grund, B; Leigh, B; D'Ortenzio, E; Doumbia, S; Lhomme, E; Sow, S; Vatrinet, R; Roy, C; Kennedy, SB; Faye, S; LEES, S; Millimouno, NP; Camara, AM; Samai, M; Deen, GF; Doumbia, M; Espérou, H; Pierson, J; WATSON-JONES, D; Diallo, A; Wentworth, D; ... Yazdanpanah, Y.
The New England journal of medicine
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