Advisory Boards – ITC

ILEP Technical Commission

The ILEP’s Technical Commission, known as the ITC, is the technical advisory board of the Federation, which provides advice to our Members at their request or proactively.

It is comprised of eight international, renowned leprosy experts.

Paul Saunderson (Chair of ITC)
Medical Director ALM and WHO TAG
Paul is a member of the WHO Technical Advisory Group for leprosy and Buruli ulcer and since 2000 he has been Medical Director of ILEP Member American Leprosy Missions. A central component of his work with ALM has been to coordinate an advisory team on the development of a new leprosy vaccine. He is also editor of the Leprosy Review, the only international scientific journal devoted specifically to leprosy research. Paul has worked in the field of leprosy since 1981. He started his career at a mission hospital in western Uganda. In 1994 he was appointed Director of ALERT’s Leprosy Control Division.
Wim Van Brakel
Head of Technical Department, NLR

Wim is head of the Technical Department at NLR. He has worked for 17 years in Nepal and India for the International Nepal Fellowship and ILEP Member The Leprosy Mission, specialising in leprosy control, public health, prevention of disabilities, rehabilitation and research. He was a founding member of IDEA Nepal and has a strong interest in the participation of persons affected by leprosy in leprosy services. He also works part-time with the Disability Studies unit at the VUmc. Wim holds a medical degree from Amsterdam University, a diploma in missiology from All Nations Christian College in UK, an MSc in infectious disease epidemiology.

Wim’s research interests include peripheral neuropathy in leprosy, NTD-related disability and rehabilitation, social participation, stigma, disability-inclusive development and measurement of disability. He has published and co-authored over 90 papers and book chapters in peer-reviewed international journals. He serves on the Editorial Board of ‘Disability, CBR and Inclusive Development’ and is a board member of the Dutch Coalition of Disability and Development.

Michael Chen
Secretary General, HANDA
photo of Dr Michael Chen
Michael (Zhiqiang Chen) is Secretary General of HANDA Rehabilitation & Welfare Association (IDEA China). Since 1999 he has been engaged in empowering and promoting the participation of people affected by leprosy in leprosy services. Prior to working for HANDA, Michael worked for over 10 years in the China Leprosy Control and Research Centre, as a medical doctor involved in leprosy control and rehabilitation programmes.

Nimer Ortuno Gutierrez

Medical Advisor & Coordinator of Operational Research,

Damien Foundation

After graduating as medical doctor in 2000, Nimer worked at the district Hospital in the tropical area of Cochabamba-Bolivia. The following year, he obtained a specialisation in tropical medicine, after coming into contact with the neglected diseases leprosy, leishmaniasis and dengue.

In 2002-2003, after working on a leishmaniasis-project run by the Institute of Tropical Medicine of Antwerp (ITM), designing molecular tools for the detection of drug resistance, Nimer achieved a Master of Science in Public Health (MPH) at the institute.

His career then took him to Burundi to work as a medical advisor on a TB and leprosy project; to Spain, where he specialised in community and family medicine; and to Guinea where we worked for Damien Foundation as medical advisor of the national tuberculosis programme. Since September 2015, Nimer has worked as medical advisor and coordinator of operational research of Damien Foundation at their Brussels Headquarters.

In 2017, Nimer started his PhD track on leprosy-transmission, because he is committed to contributing to a leprosy-free world.

Bassey Ebenso
Research Fellow, University of Leeds

Bassey earned his Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Calabar, Nigeria in 1991. Thereafter, in 1993, he became a Disease Control Officer for the states of Akwa Ibom and Zamfara, Nigeria with ILEP Member The Leprosy Mission International. Six years later, Bassey became the Country Director for Nigeria with The Leprosy Mission International, during which time he also earned his Masters of Public Health International with the University of Leeds.

Bassey served as Country Director in Nigeria until 2008, when he returned to the University of Leeds to begin his Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology. He obtained his PhD on the life course perspectives on experiences of and responses to leprosy-related stigma in Western Nigeria in 2012.

Bassey is currently a research fellow at the University of Leeds, where is he is studying the effectiveness of a community health workers programme in improving Mother and Child Health in Nigeria.

Diana Lockwood
Professor of Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Diana Lockwood

Diana Lockwood is an infectious disease physician and leprologist who focuses on improving the outcome of nerve damage in people affected by leprosy. Diana graduated from the University of Birmingham with an MD in 1996, and graduated with a Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians in 1999.

She has held various positions at several hospitals around England, in addition to researching and working in India and Africa. Diana has authored over 100 articles and book chapters in the field of infectious diseases, focusing for the most part on leprosy. She has also devoted much of her time to editorial and review work, and was also the editor of Leprosy Review from 1996 to 2012.

Diana is currently a professor of Tropical Medicine in the Department of Infectious and Topical Diseases at the London School and of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She also serves as a consultant physician and leprologist at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in London and is a trustee of ILEP Member Lepra. Diana is also working on developing, analysing and refining severity scales for measuring Type 1 and erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL) reactions.

Tina Mendis
Domain Head, Sustainable Livelihoods and Empowerment Programme, The leprosy Mission Trust India

Tina has a Master’s in Business Administration as well as a Master’s in Rural Development. She has an in-depth understanding on rights of people affected by leprosy and disabilities, and how to work alongside them in promoting their inclusion into mainstream society. She also ensures social change by using her hands-on experience with women and children’s rights issues in India. From 1993 to 2001, she was a lecturer on Developmental Theory for the Neurologically Impaired with the Spastics Society of Northern India (now re-named as AADI).

Tina is currently the Domain Head of the Sustainable Livelihoods and Empowerment Programme by The Leprosy Mission Trust India. Since 2001, she has provided policy and procedural advice to the programme, supported project development and design, devised and implemented training plans, managed all reports of programme requirements, and ensured that the programme complies with policy when concerning, gender, human rights, sustainability, and risk management issues.

Bart Vander Plaetse
Head of Programme Unit, FAIRMED

Bart is the head of programme unit for ILEP Member FAIRMED. He is a medical doctor, specialised in tropical medicine. He initially worked as a clinician in Southern Africa and was DMO in Zimbabwe. He then obtained an MPH from the Institute for Tropical Medicine, Antwerp-Belgium.

Since then Bart has worked in African and South-East Asian countries, focusing on impacting health outcomes for the poorest, from a variety of perspectives, including NGO, bi- and multi-lateral development organisations, public-private partnerships; systems strengthening and sector reform, health management and implementation/operational research activities.

He is interested in leprosy from clinical and health systems perspective; the interplay with other NTDs and more general perspectives towards integrated and people-centered health services, and fascinated by policy making processes but even more by pathways to efficient implementation at scale.