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Mectizan Expert Committee

The Mectizan Expert Committee (MEC) is an independent body of nine internationally recognized experts in the fields of public health, tropical disease, ophthalmology, and social science established by Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A.* to provide technical oversight of the Mectizan Donation Program. With the exception of the Chair, Mectizan Expert Committee Members are appointed for two- to three-year terms and meet at least once annually.


Dr. Gilbert Burnham, Chair of the Mectizan Expert Committee

Dr. Burnham is a Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in the department of international health. He has extensive field experience in onchocerciasis control and has worked on a number of World Health Organization (WHO) onchocerciasis-related working groups, including the WHO Ivermectin Subcommittee and Scientific Working Group on Filariasis and the WHO Onchocerciasis Operational Research Task Force. He also provided assistance to the WHO Special Program for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases analyzing the impact of ivermectin on onchocercal skin disease. Dr. Burnham worked in Malawi to establish a Mectizan distribution program and eye care project, and he conducted an evaluation of the Malawi onchocerciasis control program for the International Eye Foundation. He also worked in Uganda on an onchocerciasis control consultation for Deutsche Gesellschaft Technische Zusammenarbeit. Dr. Burnham has published a number of articles on onchocerciasis and other tropical diseases, including an editorial commentary in the Lancet on the use of ivermectin in loiasis-endemic areas, a topic frequently discussed during MEC/AC meetings.

Dr. Allison Krentel

Dr. Krentel is a behavioral health scientist at the Bruyère Research Institute and Assistant Professor at the School of Epidemiology and Public Health at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Krentel has extensive research experience focusing on topics such as mass drug administration for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), understanding the factors that motivate and sustain community drug distributors for the elimination of NTDs, and assessing the support structures to accelerate the treatment of lymphatic filariasis. Dr. Krentel has conducted such research in collaboration with organizations such as the the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Government Development Aid (DFID), and GlaxoSmithKline.

Dr. Krentel is also a founding member of the Canadian Steering Group for Neglected Tropical Diseases and a Senior Research Fellow for WHO Collaborating Center for Knowledge Translation and Health Technology. Dr. Krentel has been a Module Organiser for the Distance Learning Masters Programme at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK since 2007.

Dr. Tom Nutman

Dr. Nutman is the Deputy Chief at the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases and the Chief at the Helminth Immunology and Clinical Parasitology Sections of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a part of the NIH. He has been with the NIH since 1982.  In addition, he is the director of the NIAID International Center for Excellence in Research (ICER) located in Chennai, India, as well as director of the filariasis unit at the NIAID ICER in Mali. He is on numerous advisory committees and editorial boards and holds patents related to parasite diagnosis and vaccine development.

Dr. Nutman received his A.B. from Brown University and his M.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He did an internal medicine residency at New York University (Bellevue) and postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases (LPD). He is board certified in internal medicine and allergy and immunology. He also holds a diploma/certificate in tropical medicine and travelers’ health. Dr. Nutman is the author or coauthor of over 500 papers and book chapters and has received multiple awards for his work in tropical medicine and immunology.

Dr. B.E.B. Nwoke

Dr. Nwoke is an entomologist and parasitologist and professor at Imo State University in Owerri, Nigeria.

Dr. Nwoke B.Sc. (Hons); MSc; PhD (Jos); OND (IMT); FRSTMH (UK); FPPSN (Nig), FSEH (Nig.), the first best graduate of Zoology, University of Jos (1979), started his academic career in 1981 with Imo State University Nigeria. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1990, Professor of Public Health Parasitology and Entomology in 1994. Dr. Nwoke has impressive scientific contributions in the biology, epidemiology and control of human parasitic diseases and their vectors. His works with colleagues on a biometric study of Onchocerca volvulus microfilariae from Nigerian using unclear count method and chromosomes of Onchocerca volvulus were great contributions epidemiological difference between Nigerian and Guatemalan onchocerciasis.

Dr. Nwoke’s study on onchocerciasis in Imo State in 1987/88 stimulated the establishment of River Blindness Foundation worldwide by the Moore family of USA. This metamorphosed into a global communicable disease control institution, Global 2000, Cater Centre, River Blindness Programme.

WHO, in 1991 appointed him principal investigator on rapid diagnosis of river blindness in Africa. This led to the development of Rapid Epidemiological Mapping of Onchocerciasis (REMO) adopted by WHO as the new and acceptable community diagnostic tool for Onchocerciasis control in tropical Africa. He was later in 1995 appointed the leading Consultant by WHO Geneva on REMO for the 19 endemic Africa countries under the auspices of the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control.

He is the Chairman, National Onchocerciasis Elimination Committee abs Member, National Steering Committee on Neglected Tropical Diseases. He has successfully supervised 65 MSc, 20 MPH and 60 PhD Theses. He has to his credit 190 academic and professional publications. He is a Postdoctoral Fellow, WHO and Bill Gates Lymphatic Support Centre at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Distinguished Scientist of the Federal Ministry of Health in recognition of his pioneering efforts in River Blindness Control in Nigeria; Fellow, Parasitology and Public Health Society of Nigeria, Fellow, Nigerian Society for Environmental Health. He is Fellow Academy of Science (FAS) Elect.

Dr. Sebastian Pion

Dr. Pion is a Chargé de Recherche (scientist) at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France. Dr. Pion received his PhD in Parasitology from the University Paris XII. His main research focuses on the use and development of statistical methods and mathematical models to understand the epidemiology and control of helminth infections of humans.

His major research interests have included onchocerciasis and loiasis and, to a lesser extent, ascariasis and trichuriasis. Within neglected tropical diseases, Dr. Pion focuses on topics such as the evaluation of the relationship between onchocerciasis and epilepsy, optimization of drug regimens for lymphatic filariasis elimination in Central Africa, assessment of the possible development of ivermectin resistance in Onchocerca volvulus, and prevention of Loa loa related adverse reactions occurring during mass drug administration with ivermectin in onchocerciasis endemic areas. Dr. Pion has authored and co-authored over 75 scientific publications on the topics.

Dr. Kapa D. Ramaiah

Dr. Ramaiah has over 30 years of experience in vectorborne disease control working with the Indian Council of Medical Research’s Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) in Pondicherry, India from 1980-2012. During his time at VCRC he completed his PhD from the University of Pondicherry focused on the transmission dynamics of lymphatic filariasis (LF). His work on collaborative research projects with WHO TDR has contributed greatly to the global evidence base for: evaluating impact of mass drug administration on infection and transmission, methods of LF surveillance, the social and economic impact of LF, and the global burden of disease due to LF. The outcomes of his work have resulted in a total of 70 publications.

Dr. Ramaiah has also worked with WHO in Geneva and the Western Pacific Regional office as well as RTI International providing technical support to oer 13 national LF elimination programmes. He understands all aspects of LF elimination programme development implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. He has recently served on the Regional Dossier Review Group of the South East Asia Regional Office of WHO to critically assess elimination dossiers submitted and advise WHO on whether or not to validate the claims of achieving elimination of LF as a public health problem.

Dr. Wilma Stolk

Dr. Stolk is Assistant Professor at the Department of Public Health of Erasmus MC, University Medical Center in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. As researcher/epidemiologist she has worked on onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis for over 20 years, focussing mainly on the health and socioeconomic burden caused by these diseases, the (cost) effectiveness of existing and new interventions, and understanding conditions under which the disease can be eliminated completely. Mathematical modelling plays an important role in this work. She is an active member of the NTD Modelling Consortium, aiming to support policy and decision making in ongoing elimination programmes by high-quality quantitative modelling.

Dr. Tony Ukety

Dr Tony Ukety is an ophthalmologist with more than three decades of experiences in tropical ophthalmology and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), particularly in onchocerciasis elimination efforts as well as international global health issues of which 16 years were spent in rural areas in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and 12 years at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

He pioneered the mapping of onchocerciasis in north-eastern DRC within a context of political turmoil, paving the way for the launching of community-directed treatment with ivermectin (CDTI) in Uele focus and Ituri Province.

Within WHO, Dr Ukety facilitated the increase and strengthening of partnership leading to the verification of onchocerciasis elimination in 4 out of 6 endemic countries in Latin America, launching of onchocerciasis elimination efforts in Yemen and the expansion of CDTI activities in unstable areas in Africa.

Dr Ukety also coordinated the development of the last WHO Guideline for stopping mass drug administration and verifying elimination of human onchocerciasis: Criteria and Procedures which was published in January 2016.

Currently, Dr Ukety is involved in onchocerciasis research activities in finding out alternative strategies for accelerating onchocerciasis elimination in Africa. He also provides technical support to national committee for onchocerciasis elimination of Chad, DRC and Uganda with a particular emphasis on cross-border issues.

Dr. Laurent Yaméogo 

Dr. Yaméogo, the 2015 Merck Mectizan Award winner,  served as coordinator for the WHO’s African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) from 2002-2015. He has expertise as a hydrobiologist entomologist and a wealth of skills related to river blindness and lymphatic filariasis including working with endemic communities, laboratory work, and technical assignments that have informed policy decisions on program implementation. In 2013 the government of Benin honored him as Officer for services to improve the health of the people of Africa. In 2015 he was nominated as a member of the WHO Guideline Development Group and helped develop the “Guidelines for Stopping Mass Drug Administration and Verifying Elimination of Human Onchocerciasis.” He also served as a member of the WHO AFRO Working Group formed to develop the Expanded Special Program on NTDs (ESPEN). In 2016, he was appointed as a member of Burkina Faso’s National Onchocerciasis Elimination Committee and a member of the francophone network for the control/elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases. After retiring from WHO in 2017, he has been working as a consultant with the World Bank in Burkina Faso on NTDs to strengthen the private health sector.

Liaison Organizations

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
LF Regional Program Review Group

*Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A., is known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada.