Prof Stephen M Tollman


Current positions
2004 – current. Director:MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt), School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand
2014 – current. Research Professor and Head: Health and Population Division, School of Public Health,University of the Witwatersrand


For a more detailed CV, log onto Stephen Tollman Wits staff page and click on the ORCID link

Personal statement
As Research Professor in the School of Public Health, Wits University, Steve Tollman directs the Medical Research Council / Wits University Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit. While trained in African and US / UK institutions, Steve’s professional life is based in South Africa with extensive efforts building advanced research capability in sub-Saharan African settings.

In the early 1990s, he led establishment of the Agincourt Field Research Centre based on long-term health and socio-demographic surveillance. This provides a longitudinal platform for the SAMRC’s only research group dedicated to rural health and development and the rapid transitions underway. Extensive observational work is complemented by intervention-evaluations addressing key periods along the life course. The empirically-derived mortality and cause-of-death series informs work on chronic conditions and is among the richest on the continent. This, and related surveillance data, offer fresh insight into the complex demographic, epidemiological and social transitions underway.

Steve’s work contributed to the founding of the INDEPTH Network which he served as Board Chair then Principal Scientist. He serves on African, US and UK review panels and is currently chairing 5-year reviews of SAMRC intramural research units. He is an author of some 250 peer-reviewed publications, and in 2018 was honoured by the National Science and Technology Forum.

BSc, MBBCh, MMed (Rand), MPH (Harvard), MA (Oxon), PhD (Umeå)
2008 PhD (Epidemiology and Global Health) Umeå University, Sweden. Thesis: Closing the Gap: Applying health and socio-demographic surveillance to complex health transitions in South and sub-Saharan Africa. ISBN 978-91-7264-681-0
1999 MMed (Public Health Medicine) University of the Witwatersrand. Thesis: Life and death without trace: Population dynamics and trends in mortality in rural South Africa.
1988 MPH (Health Services Administration) Harvard School of Public Health, USA
1984 MBBCh University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
1982 BA (Hons) / MA (Philosophy, Politics, Economics) Oxford University, UK
1979 BSc (Anatomy, Physiology) University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Previous Posts
2012-2018 Principal Scientist, INDEPTH Network
2000-2014 Associate Professor and Head, Division of Health and Population, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand
2000-2014 Associate Professor and Head, Health and Population Division, School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand
2000-2002 Director, Agincourt Health and Population Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand
1988-1990 Leader, Agincourt Health and Population Research Programme, University of the Witwatersrand
1994-1999 Senior Lecturer (special list since 1997), University of the Witwatersrand
1990-1996 Director, Health Systems Development Unit (HSDU), School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand
1994-1996 Senior Research Officer, Health Systems Development Unit (HSDU), University of the Witwatersrand
1988-1990 Research Fellow, Population Sciences and International Health, Harvard School of Public Health
1998-1990 Secretariat member, Commission on Health Research for Development
1986 Senior House Officer, Coronation Hospital (obstets and gynae, paeds)
1985 Intern, Coronation Hospital, Johannesburg (surgery and internal medicine)

Honorary Appointments and Invited Positions
2020             Panel member, Global Multimorbidity Funding Committee (GACD), UKMRC, London
2020             Panel member, International Expert Advisory Group, GACD
2019              Acting Chair, Scientific Advisory Committee, UKMRC/Uganda Virus Research Institute & London School of Hygiene and           Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
2018 –          Chair, 5-year (quinquennial) reviews of SA MRC intramural research units
2016 – 18     Panelist, Addressing the global challenge of multimorbidity, Academy of Medical Sciences, UK
2017              NIH Centre for Scientific Review, GACD Peer Review Meeting, Cape Town
2017 –          Chair, Trial Steering Committee: Insika Yomama (PI A Stein), Oxford University and Africa Health Research Institute. cRCT to evaluate an intervention for depressed HIV-positive women in the perinatal period to enhance child development and reduce maternal depression
2016 –18       Member, UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health
2015 –16       Board member, Peking University China Center for Health Development Studies
2015 –           Chair, Fellowships Selection Panel, Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF), UK MRC
2014 –15       Chair, SA/UK MRC & GSK Review Panel on Non-Communicable Diseases in South Africa
2013 –17        Chair, External Advisory Committee, Public Health Foundation of India – UK Consortium Research Capacity Building   Programme
2013 –17        Advisory Committee to Editors: Disease Control Priorities in Developing Countries 3rd ed.
2012 –15        Chair, Public Health and Tropical Medicine Interview Committee, Wellcome Trust UK  (Committee member, 2009-12) Specialist committee awarding highly competitive fellowships to early and mid-career researchers from low and middle-income countries
2011 –             Faculty Member, Harvard Center for Population & Development Studies, Cambridge MA
2010 –13        Panel Member, The Continuing Epidemiological Transition in sub-Saharan Africa Committee on Population, National Academy of Sciences, USA
2010 –            Panelist, UK MRC/DfID African Research Leader scheme
2010 – 17       Panelist, UK MRC Global Health Strategy Group
2008 –           Head, INDEPTH Satellite Secretariat, based in the Health and Population Division, School of Public Health, Wits University
2005 –           Principal Investigator, INDEPTH Program on Adult Health and Aging
2005               Guest Researcher, Epidemiology & Public Health Sciences, Umeå University, Sweden
2004 –06       Panelist, Policy Research and Data Needs to Meet the Challenge of Aging in Africa Committee on Population, National Academy of Sciences, USA
2002 –06       Elected first Chair, Board of Trustees, INDEPTH Network
1998-2002     Deputy Chair, INDEPTH Coordinating Committee
2001 –             Research Associate, Population Aging Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, USA
1996 –03         Hon Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, LSHTM, UK

2018. South32 award for outstanding contribution to Science, Engineering and Technology, and Innovation (Management and related activities) National Science and Technology Foundation
2013. INDEPTH Prize for Extraordinary Research in Population and Health
Team award for article: Clark SJ, Kahn K, Houle B, Arteche A, Collinson MA, Tollman SM, Stein A. Young Children’s Risk of Dying Before and After Their Mothers’ Death: A Rural Southern African Population-Based Surveillance Study. PLoS Med 2013; 10(3): e1001409
2010. Vice Chancellor’s Award for Academic Citizenship, University of the Witwatersrand
Team award to MRC/Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit
2009. INDEPTH Prize for Extraordinary Research in Population and Health
Team award for article: Tollman SM, Kahn K, Sartorius B, Collinson MA, Clark SJ, Garenne ML. Implications of mortality transition for primary health care in rural South Africa: a population-based surveillance study. The Lancet 2008; 372:893-901
2008, 2011. Outstanding Leadership Award, INDEPTH Network
2005. Guest researcher award, Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research
2000. Vice Chancellor’s Team Teaching Award, Wits University (with H Saloojee)
1996–1997. Wellcome Trust Travelling Research Fellowship
1996–1997. Helen Suzman Leadership / Chevening Award (British Council)
1996. Andrew W Mellon Foundation Travel Award
1996, 1987. Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust: Grants for sabbatical and study abroad
1980. Rhodes Scholarship (South Africa-at-large, Balliol College, Oxford
1984. Gilbert Cottrill Prize for distinguished service on the Medical Students Council and academic achievement
1979. Graham Wilkinson Medal for the 3rd year student who has excelled academically and made an outstanding contribution to the extra-curricular activities of the University
1977. Sonia Walker Prize for the student who has completed Physiology and Biochemistry I and is deemed by students and staff to be the most outstanding in extra-curricular activities

2016-current. Editorial Board, Global Health, Epidemiology and Genomics (GHEG)
2016-current. Editorial Board, Social Science and Medicine (Population Health)
2014-current. Editorial Board, Health Systems and Reform, Publishers: Landes Bioscience, USA
2012-current. Reviewing Editor, eLife
2010-current. Editorial Board, Population Health Metrics, Bio Medical Central, USA
2008-2011. Associate Editor, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, BMJ group, London UK