Prof Kathleen Kahn


Current positions
2008- Senior Scientist: MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research (Agincourt)
2014- Personal Professor: Health and Population Division, School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand

For a more comprehensive CV, go to Prof Kahn’s Wits staff profile Kathleen Kahn


Personal statement
Kathy Kahn is Personal Professor in the School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, and executive scientist in the MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt). A physician with a PhD in public health and epidemiology, Kathy has spent over 25 years working in rural South Africa and regionally. Since inception of the Agincourt health and socio-demographic surveillance system in 1992, she has led work on mortality and cause of death measurement, using verbal autopsy to track transitions over a period of dramatic socio-political change and the HIV epidemic. Her research focuses on adolescent and young adult health and development including HIV prevention, non-communicable disease risk, and mental health; as well as a life course approach to health and ageing.

Kathy has a strong history of capacity building and mentorship. Since 2008 she reformulated then led an Interdisciplinary PhD Program in Public and Population Health with today over 100 candidates. Her efforts extend to sub-Saharan Africa through the Consortium for Advanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA), part of the DELTAS Initiative of the Wellcome Trust, UK.

From 2011-13, Kathy served on the Board of the INDEPTH Network, and is active in multicenter research on mortality, and adult health and aging.

PhD, Umeå University, Sweden, 2006
Master of Public Health, Harvard University, USA, 1988
MBBCh, University of the Witwatersrand 1984

Previous posts
1990-1996 Research Officer, Health Systems Development Unit and Agincourt Health and Population Programme, University of the Witwatersrand
1988-1990 Research Associate, Harvard School of Public Health
1986 Senior House Officer, Coronation Hospital

2020                    The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Boston, US Alumni Award of Merit
Annual                 Awards for contributions to research. Faculty of Health Sciences, Wits University
2013                     INDEPTH[1] Prize for extraordinary research in population and health at INDEPTH site team award: Clark SJ, Kahn K, et al. Young Children’s Risk of Dying Before and After Their Mothers’ Death: Rural Southern African Population-Based Surveillance Study. PLoS Med 2013; 10(3): e1001409
2011                     Vice-Chancellors Academic Citizenship Award, University of the Witwatersrand for contribution to Consortium forAdvanced Research Training in Africa (CARTA); with Fonn
2010                     Vice-Chancellors Academic Citizenship Award, University of the Witwatersrand team award to MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt)
2009                     INDEPTH Prize for extraordinary research in population and health at INDEPTH sites team award for paper: Tollman SM, Kahn K, et al. Implications of mortality transition for primary health care in rural South Africa: a population – based surveillance study. Lancet 2008; 372:893-901
2008                     INDEPTH award in recognition of contribution to founding of INDEPTH Network
2006                     Best oral presentation in category “Chronic Illnesses and Diseases of Lifestyle” University of the Witwatersrand Faculty of Health Sciences Research Day
2005                     Guest Researcher Award: Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research (FAS) based at Epidemiology and Public Health Sciences, Umeå University, Sweden
1999                     Travel Award: Population Association of America
1996-97               Helen Suzman Leadership/Chevening Award (British Council)
for sabbatical in Health Promotion Research Unit, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
1994                     Winner: Metropolitan Life University/Technikon Project Competition – social mobilisation project to achieve health goals in rural South Africa
1978                     Sonya Walker Prize: for achievement & contributions to society while a medical student

Honorary positions
Faculty member, Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies,
Guest Researcher, Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, Sweden
Research Associate, Institute for Behavioral Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA
Honorary senior lecturer, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Research Interests: Health transitions; Burden of Disease assessments; Child health and development; Integrated chronic care systems; Interventions to reduce risk factors for metabolic disease; the Verbal Autopsy instrument