Publications

For a complete list of Brian Williams's publications, click here. See below to download selected papers.

"Broken Houses: Science and Development in the African Savannahs," by Brian Williams, Catherine Campbell, and Roy Williams, in Agriculture and Human Values

"Occupational health, occupational illness: tuberculosis, silicosis and HIV on the South African Mines," by Brian Williams, Catherine Campbell, Nokuzola Mqoqi, and Immo Kleinschmidt, in Occupational Lung Disease: An International Perspective

"Science for Development," by Brian Williams, in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

"Thinking positively," by Brian Williams and Malegapuru Makgoba, in the South African Journal of Science

Brian Williams


williamsDr. Brian Williams, epidemiologist for the World Health Organization in Geneva, served as the Distinguished Visiting Practitioner from February 9-13, 2009. The Brandeis Chemistry Department, with lead faculty member Irv Epstein, hosted the visit of Brian Williams in collaboration with the Ethics Center. A schedule of events is available here. A news story on his keynote address is available here.

Williams has worked in the StopTB Department of the World Health Organization in Geneva for the past five years. His primary interest is in the epidemiology and the control of tuberculosis (TB), especially in Africa and in places where there is a high burden of HIV infection. He has published papers on a range of diseases, including measles, trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, silicosis, malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV. He contributed to the development of the new Global Plan to Stop TB and has helped to develop policy in the management of HIV-related TB. In 2005, he was part of the team that reviewed the South African national TB control program.

Williams grew up in South Africa and studied at the University of Natal and later at Cambridge University in England, where he published some of his first papers with Prof. Irving Epstein of Brandeis University. After completing his studies, he taught physics at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland and worked at the University of Helsinki in Finland. From there, he went to Tanzania, where he taught at the University of Dar es Salaam from 1978 to 1980. Having been exiled from South Africa, he returned to England, where he was awarded a Royal Society Senior Research Fellowship and spent the next seven years working on electron microscopy in the Department of Physical Chemistry at the University of Cambridge.

He then took up a position at the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology in Kenya, where he worked for five years on a program to control tsetse flies and trypanosomiasis in a Maasai community in southwest Kenya. From Kenya, he returned to Oxford University and then the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he taught epidemiology. In 1994, he regained his South African passport and became director of the Epidemiology Research Unit (ERU) in the Medical Bureau for Occupational Diseases in Johannesburg. While at the ERU, he directed a project on the burden of silicosis among ex-mine workers in Libode in the Eastern Cape. This project established the scale and magnitude of the problem of undiagnosed and uncompensated occupational lung diseases in rural communities in southern Africa. The mandate of the ERU was to address the health problems confronting mine workers and it was apparent that HIV/AIDS was the greatest threat not only to the mine workers but to the country as a whole.

This led him to set up the "Mothusimpilo" project in Carletonville, the biggest gold-mining complex in the world. Mothusimpilo was focussed on mine workers, sex workers, and adolescents and tried to find ways to reduce transmission of HIV in this community where people were at very high risk. The project was used to develop peer education and counselling, to train sex workers and mine workers to do outreach activities, to educate young men and women while they were still at school about the dangers posed by HIV, and to try to empower them in ways that would reduce their risk of being infected with HIV. The project was also used to set up mobile clinics to provide routine services for the treatment of sexually transmitted infections among sex workers in the community.

In 2001 he took up his present position at the World Health Organization in Geneva. Much of his work in Geneva has been concerned with understanding the way in which the HIV epidemic drives TB incidence and prevalence, the likely impact of antiretroviral treatment on TB, the relationship between in-host dynamics of HIV and the population level spread, and on the cost-effectiveness of programs to control TB and HIV. He helped to found SACEMA, the South African Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis, based in Stellenbosch, whose aim is to develop analytical capacity in public health in Africa with a view to managing some of the many diseases that continue to ravage the continent