Home About us Leadership Senior Leadership Team

Senior Leadership Team

Our 4,000 plus staff are led by Executive Director Dr Tahmeed Ahmed and the Senior Leadership Team. Together they are responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation and are accountable to the Board of Trustees


Senior leadership

Dr Tahmeed Ahmed has been working for the last three decades in simplifying the management of childhood malnutrition, childhood tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases. He leads the BEED (Bangladesh Environmental Enteric Dysfunction) study that attempts to discover non-invasive biomarkers of environmental enteric dysfunction, an important cause of stunting in children. Together with Dr Jeffrey Gordon of Washington University in St. Louis he discovered microbiota directed complementary food (MDCF) - a novel intervention for childhood malnutrition. This discovery was highlighted by the prestigious journal Science as one of the scientific breakthroughs of 2019. He is continuing the research on MDCF with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  

Dr Ahmed studied in St. Gregory’s High School and Notre Dame College, Dhaka and then obtained his medical degree from Mymensingh Medical College. He received residential training in Dhaka Children’s Hospital and subsequently studied at the University of Tsukuba in Japan for his PhD. He has recently been appointed the Executive Director of icddr,b where he has been working for the last three decades. As a member of the Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group of the WHO, Dr Ahmed revised the global guidelines for management of childhood acute malnutrition. He advises the Global Task Force on Cholera Case Control (GTFCC) on case management of cholera in children. Dr Ahmed was awarded the Bangladesh Academy of Science - Dr Sultan Ahmed Choudhury Gold Medal for outstanding achievement in Medical Science in 2003. He received from the Honorable Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, the Islamic Bank Development Transformers’ Roadshow Award in 2018. Dr Ahmed works closely with the Ministry of Health of Bangladesh, WHO, UNICEF and the International Atomic Energy Agency in research, policy issues and training on nutrition. He has more than 400 papers published in international journals and books. Dr Ahmed was the President of the Commonwealth Association of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (CAPGAN), an association of professionals in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition from the 54 Commonwealth nations.  He is Professor of Public Health Nutrition of James P. Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Dhaka and also Affiliated Professor of School of Global Health, University of Washington, Seattle. Dr Ahmed has recently been appointed Honorary Senior Fellow of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).

Read more about Dr Ahmed's illustrious career in The Lancet

Dr Firdausi Qadri’s work includes basic and applied immunology of infectious diseases but also clinical and large field-based studies on enteric vaccines. Dr Qadri has more than 490 publications in peer reviewed journal of high impact (Web of Science). She has been elected fellow of many societies including ASM, AAM, TWAS, IDSA, BAS, INSA and serves on advisory boards including the ISDB science, biotechnology and innovation board.

Recently, her research focuses very much on Covid-19 infections and vaccinations. She also received a number of prestigious awards. Eg: Gold Medal in Biological Sciences by the Bangladesh Academy of Science, Moselio Schaechter Award by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), Christophe & Rodolphe Mérieux Foundation Prize, French Academy of Sciences, Prof. C.N.R. Rao Prize from TWAS. She is a laureate of the 2020 L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Award for her contribution to understanding and preventing infectious diseases affecting children in developing countries, and promoting early diagnosis and vaccination with global health impact.

Dr Qadri won the Ramon Magsaysay Award 2021 which is known as Asia’s Nobel Prize. Dr Qadri has been honoured with this prestigious award due to her magnificent contribution to infectious disease control, immunology, vaccine development and clinical trial.

Read more about Dr Qadri's career in The Lancet

Dr Shams El Arifeen was the first director of icddr,b’s late Centre for Child and Adolescent Health, and is now the Senior Director of Maternal and Child Health research. Dr Arifeen is also an acting professor at the James P. Grant School of Public Health at the BRAC University in Bangladesh, where he teaches epidemiology. Dr Arifeen has nearly 25 years of experience in child and neonatal health, health services and health systems research, including nine years in government health services, with a focus on health interventions for developing populations. He also has extensive experience in research and evaluation, with particular expertise in cluster randomized trials, large-scale surveys as well as with community and facility-based evaluations of interventions and programmes, using both experimental and quasi-experimental designs.

Dr Arifeen actively participates in national efforts within Bangladesh to scale up evidence-based neonatal and child health interventions. He currently leads the team assisting the government of Bangladesh and its partners in monitoring and evaluating health services and programmes. He has served on a number of Bangladesh’s technical and advisory committees, including the National Committee on Immunization Practices, Technical Sub-Committee on National Newborn Health Strategy and the Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey, Urban Health Survey and Bangladesh Maternal Mortality Survey technical committees. Dr Arifeen contributed to the 2003 Lancet Series on Child Survival and has published more than 140 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. He holds an MBBS and DrPH and is trained in medicine, public health, nutrition and epidemiology.

Dr Zhahirul Islam is a Clinical Epidemiologist and Laboratory Scientist. He is the pioneer in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) research in Bangladesh and has been working on GBS for the last two decades. His research focuses on pathophysiology, molecular epidemiology, computational biology, metagenomics and novel therapeutics in GBS and other autoimmune, neurodegenerative, orphan, rare diseases. He leads the ANX005 clinical trial in Bangladesh, a C1q inhibitor monoclonal antibody trial for the treatment of GBS. He has been working closely with the Government of Bangladesh for the last two decennia in collaboration with Prof Dr Quazi Deen Mohammad.

Dr Islam has published more than 60 articles in peer-reviewed journals. His team developed a simple and cost-effective method for the treatment of GBS known as ‘small-volume plasma exchange (SVPE). He has substantial expertise in multi-country, multi-centre clinical trials including phase 1/2 clinical trials. He is also leading an animal model study on Experimental Autoimmune Neuritis (EAN), an endorsed animal model for autoimmune peripheral demyelinating diseases. In addition, Dr Islam is also contributing, coordinating and mentoring microbiome, comparative microbial genomics and bioinformatics research at icddr,b. 

Dr Islam studied for his BSc and MSc in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh. He pursued his PhD in a sandwich program between icddr,b and Erasmus Medical Center, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He completed his post-doctoral training at Stanford University, USA and icddr,b supported by Fogarty International Center, NIH, USA. He has been mentoring PhD, Post-doc, MSc and BSc students from different government and private universities in Bangladesh. 

Dr Islam has developed two state-of-the-art Clinical Trial Units (CTU) at the National Institute of Neurosciences and Hospital (NINS) and Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) for phase 1b followed by phase 2/3 clinical trials on GBS. Dr Islam received the Global Health Equity Scholar (GHES) award in 2015-16 and Emerging Global Leader Award in 2019 from NINDS/Fogarty International Center, USA. He is a member of the Board of Directors (BoD) of the Inflammatory Neuropathy Consortium (INC) of Peripheral Nerve Society, USA since 2021. Dr Islam has been working as an Editorial Board Member of the Journal of the Peripheral Nervous Systems (JPNS) since 2022.

Dr Hanifi is the Acting Senior Director of the thematically diverse Health Systems and Population Studies Division (HSPSD) which houses one programme (Universal Health Coverage (UHC), 3 initiatives (Digital Health & Health Information Systems; Climate Change & Environment and Non-Communicable Diseases) and 5 research groups (Health Systems Delivery; Health Economics and Financing; Urban Health; Gender, Equity, and Rights: Population Sciences) lead by six scientists. He also heads the Initiative for Climate Change and Environment (ICCE) at icddr,b. He has more than 26 years of experience working in population studies. His areas of interest are climate change, health systems, and population science. He specializes in longitudinal data generation through Health and Demographic Surveillance Systems (HDSS). As the leader of the three HDSS sites of icddr,b he has been relentlessly working to use the longitudinal data to understand the climate change impact on the population health and to develop the HDSS sites as hubs to look into the complex interplay between climate and health in their contextual setting.

Dr Hanifi has spearheaded many interdisciplinary projects that examined the impact of human-environment interactions in vulnerable coastal and urban areas. His research works include the link between climate change and the spread of infectious diseases, evaluating the impact of climate change on adverse health outcomes, childhood immunization, health disparities, and the health of the urban slum population. Dr. Hanifi's research explored the impact of extreme temperatures on health, particularly among vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and newborns, and the need for health system resilience to address climate-related health challenges. He has demonstrated the association between salinity in drinking water and miscarriages, contributing to a deeper understanding as well as underlining the need for further research on the relationship between environmental factors and public health outcomes. With a focus on the health impacts of climate change, he researches the development of adaptation strategies to reduce these impacts.

Through his work, Dr Hanifi has contributed significantly to translating research findings into national and global policies. He is serving as a member of several national and international committees including South East Asia Region (SEAR) Advisory Group on Climate and Health, WHO VA Reference Group, HDSS Asia Network, iSHARE/INDEPTH, and Asian Population Association.

Dr Hanifi obtained his Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Southern Denmark, Denmark. He received his Master’s in Public Health from Umea University, Sweden after completing his M.Sc. and B.Sc. in Statistics from the University of Rajshahi, Bangladesh.


Mr. Thomas Barry has over 27 years of experience in financial management in the health and research sector. He graduated from University College Dublin, Ireland and began his accounting training with the National Health Service qualifying as a certified chartered accountant (ACCA) UK, now a fellow (FCCA). He also obtained membership as a certified public accountant (CPA). He completed further studies with Edinburgh Business School, and completed his MBA in Strategic Planning in June 2016.

He has worked as a finance director in several research organisations and has managed multiple grants for the EU, USAID, NIH and other donors. He is fully conversant with accounting standards and best practices, analytical with a consistent track record in delivering effective financial solutions.

Ms. Armana Ahmed has more than 20 years of work experience and is currently the Head of Research Administration (RA) at icddr,b. She joined icddr,b in October 2004 as Grants Management Officer and later became a Senior Manager in RA before becoming the Head of this Unit in 2016. She has been with the RA unit since its inception at icddr,b and has introduced and streamlined many RA functions with the intention to making it at par with similar offices at universities and other research organizations. Prior to joining icddr,b

Ms. Ahmed has worked as a Senior Program Officer in a Human Rights Advocacy Project funded by USAID and managed by AED, an Atlanta based International NGO. She started her career as a Management Accountant in Shell Bangladesh. Armana has an MBA from the Victoria University of Melbourne, Australia and also a Masters degree in Management. She was trained as an auditor by the then local Associate firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers and has worked as an auditor for five years.


Nagarajan Nagarajan belongs to Indian Audit and Accounts Service (1989 batch) one of the premier Civil Services in India. Started his career in Bangalore at middle management level and worked in different stations in India and abroad such as Port Blair, Mauritius, Mumbai, Shillong, New Delhi, Rome and before joining icddr,b, he was working at Trivandrum as Principal Accountant General (Audit). 

He has hardcoded the pension software in dbase iv in the year 1993 to issue pension payment orders to the employees of the provincial government of Karnataka in Bangalore, this application was very successful and prompted the other offices of the Auditor General to adopt this application. He has undergone Information Technology Audit training at National Audit Office UK and IT Management at UK Civil Services College at Sunningdale, UK.

He has been nominated as southern regional trainer to teach IT Audit and Computer Assisted Audit Tools to the Audit officers of the Auditor General`s office. He has prepared the course material for this training program and developed 10 exercises, which is being used widely in the office.

He has held other positions like Principal Director (Audit), principal Director (Information Systems and IT Audit), Accountant General and provided oversight at the provincial level and regional level. He has also handled several international assignments ranging from three months to three years in UNHQ (New York), UNWHO (EMRO), Regional Service Centre Entebbe (RSCE) and UNWFP (Rome) effectively and efficiently.

In icddr,b as Director Internal oversight his main role is to provide independent and objective assurance and advisory services to the Senior Management and the Board on the effectiveness of governance, risk management and control aspects.

He has published in many reputed international journals such as intoIT (National Audit Office UK), Asian journal of Audit, Auditnet (USA) and Institute of Internal Auditors journals (USA) and presented papers in various international forums.

He has worked in the areas of Public Accounting, Governance, Risk Management, Financial Management, Capacity Building, Change Management, Policy Formulation, and Audit Specializations including Information Security Audit and IT Audit.