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Prof Melanie Abas

I have researched, published and mentored widely in the field of depression in low and middle-income countries, and in vulnerable migrants in high-income and middle-income countries. I began by developing methods to measure depression, anxiety and trauma-related disorders validly in cross-cultural groups. I then moved to develop and trial interventions, and research to implement and scale-up interventions for depression in low-income countries. I have developed models for integrating depression care into primary care and HIV care in an African context, working through solid longstanding national partnerships. These are delivered through task-sharing with non-specialists, for example in the Friendship Bench project. I am now working with partners to expand these to rural areas of low income countries and to young age groups.

I work on interventions for depression and anxiety disorders at the interface with priority platforms, namely physical illness (especially HIV), work, education and gender equality. I have a program of research on depression and HIV in Zimbabwe. As PI of an R01 clinical trial funded by the US NIMH I am aiming to demonstrate how to achieve viral suppression through better approaches to adherence counselling, and through improving mental health and economic wellbeing (TENDAI project). My vision of task-sharing to grow access to care for depression and anxiety disorders is expanding to creative arts programs and the private sector. My partners for implementation include major players in global health such as the Clinton Foundation, and those coming new to the emerging opportunities,

My work has been characterised by research capacity building. I was a co-principal investigator on a Medical Education Partnership Initiative program, a platform which built capacity across a network of 13 African medical schools, funded by PEPFAR and the NIH. I continue to provide formal research mentorship to two heads of department at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences as well as supervising Wellcome Trust fellows and PhD students. I am the lead for King's College London of one of the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science programs (AMARI) funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Department for International Development to build research capacity in African mental health scientists.

Key achievements:

1990 Denis Hill Research Prize, Institute of Psychiatry, UK; Scientific field: Depression

2002 Gold Achievement Award for Services to Mental Health Research. The MHS Mental Health Conference, Sydney.

2009 Co-founded the world’s first Masters in Global Mental Health, which is run jointly by King’s College London and the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

2010-2015 Executive Committee Novel Education Clinical Trainees and Researchers, Medical Education Partnership Initiative

2015 King’s College London award for Most Significant International Collaborations

2015 Institute of International Development list of 100 Women Leaders in Global Health

2018 Workforce Vitality Group, Adecco Foundation

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