Neil Martinson

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“Just by being here we are raising the standard of the general level of service...

“Just by being here we are raising the standard of the general level of service that is provided…Hopefully our research findings will change practice but also, while we’re doing the research, we’re having a positive impact.”

- Dr. Neil Martinson,
Deputy Executive Director

Neil Martinson, MBBCh, DCH, MFGP, MPH
Deputy Executive Director

Neil Martinson’s office is a buzz of activity. When he’s not running between the various research studies and male circumcision and ARV clinics he helps oversee, he can be found here, amidst a tower of papers and a ringing telephone. An avid cyclist and father of two, the Johannesburg-born Martinson seems to have an endless supply of energy when it comes to his work.

As a young doctor, Martinson spent several years running a large health district comprised of the eastern communities of Johannesburg. “I had thirteen clinics and we saw dramatically the impact of HIV on TB.” Before leaving on a Fogarty Research Grant to study public health at Johns Hopkins University, Martinson had implemented TB control programmes in each of his primary care clinics and assisted the provincial government in the training and implementation of a TB information system. “TB is the most common opportunistic infection, the biggest cause of death in this country. It’s the biggest cause of having people on antiretrovirals. It’s the clinical face of HIV.”

Today, Dr. Martinson manages three major PEPFAR projects on TB, HIV and male circumcision at PHRU and holds a research assistanceship at the Centre for Tuberculosis Research at Johns Hopkins University. Primarily interested in the prevention and diagnosis of early-stage TB in HIV-infected individuals and HIV resistance associated with the administration of single-dose nevirapine in PMTCT, Martinson has focused on projects aimed at the early identification of HIV and TB. “Most hospitals in the sub-Saharan Africa setting are overwhelmed by this sort of conveyer belt of TB/HIV. A lot of people coming to hospital are at an advanced stage of TB and HIV, particularly the adults. And of those people that come in, 25 percent of them will die during their admission. The tragic thing is if these people got anitretrovirals, they wouldn’t end up in hospital.”

As PHRU’s Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Martinson helped to build PHRU up from its humble beginnings into the world-class research center it is today. Complete with a laboratory, pharmacy and a statistics and data management centre, he enjoys the freedom of creativity PHRU is able to provide its researchers. “If you go down and say, ‘I have this weird and wonderful idea to do this, that and the other’. They say, ‘Ok how can we help? What can we do to make your study work?’

Research Assistant, Centre for TB Research, Johns Hopkins University

MPH, Johns Hopkins University, United States

Awards & Honors
Fogarty Tuberculosis Research Grant

PHRU now offers free medical male circumcision (MMC). MMC is 50 to 60 percent effective at preventing HIV in men.
Read stories about the impact of PHRU's work in our latest report, PHRU's 2010 Review.