Donald M. Thea, MD

Professor, Global Health
Donald Thea
Crosstown Center – CT388
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Dr. Thea received his MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and a Masters of Science in tropical medicine from the London School of Hygiene and trained in infectious diseases in the Department of Geographic Medicine at New England Medical Center. He has pursued a full time career in both domestic and international clinical and epidemiological infectious disease research, primarily in issues related to child survival and in particular mother to child transmission of HIV/AIDS and pneumonia. Dr. Thea was an early member of Project SIDA (Kinshasa, Zaire), the first international clinical HIV/AIDS research field site, where he did work on the etiology of diarrhea in perinatally acquired HIV infection and was the director of the Clinical Research Unit. He pursued his interest in perinatal transmission of HIV as the Principal Investigator of the New York City Collaborative Perinatal HIV Transmission Study. In 1998 he then joined the Health and Social Development Unit of the Harvard Institute for International Development where he focused on international field research in Acute Respiratory Illness, Malaria and HIV. Dr. Thea joined the Global Health department along with the other members of the Harvard team where he is currently a Professor of Global Health and the Director of the Center for Global Health and Development (CGHD). In this capacity, Dr. Thea provides senior technical leadership of a portfolio of projects addressing community treatment of neonatal sepsis, management of acute respiratory illness in children, community and facilities-based management of acute malaria, presumptive prophylaxis of malaria in pregnancy, social and behavioral aspects of HIV transmission and child sexual abuse. Dr. Thea has been the Principal Investigator of several large studies and program implementation projects including a prospective cohort study of postnatal HIV through breastmilk (the Zambia Exclusive Breastfeeding Study), the Zambia Boston University Malaria Project (ZAMBUMP), the Boston University PMTCT Integration Projects (BUPIP) – Southern Province Zambia. He is the Zambia Site PI for the Bill and Melinda funded Pneumonia Etiology Research in Child Health (PERCH) through a subcontract with Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Thea is also on the Board of Directors for the Zambian Center for Applied Health Research and Development (ZCAHRD), a local Zambian NGO organization which works closely with Boston University to implement public health research and programs.

Other Positions

  • Director of Center for Global Health & Development, Center for Global Health & Development , Boston University School of Public Health
  • Center Faculty Member, Center for Global Health & Development , Boston University School of Public Health


  • University of London, MSc
  • Columbia University, MD
  • Antioch College, BS


  • Published on 9/24/2016

    Brennan AT, Bonawitz R, Gill CJ, Thea DM, Kleinman M, Useem J, Garrison L, Ceccarelli R, Udokwu C, Long L, Fox MP. A meta-analysis assessing all-cause mortality in HIV-exposed uninfected compared with HIV-unexposed uninfected infants and children. AIDS. 2016 Sep 24; 30(15):2351-60. PMID: 27456985.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/20/2016

    Sutcliffe CG, Thea DM, Seidenberg P, Chipeta J, Mwyanayanda L, Somwe SW, Duncan J, Mwale M, Mulindwa J, Mwenechenya M, Izadnegahdar R, Moss WJ. A clinical guidance tool to improve the care of children hospitalized with severe pneumonia in Lusaka, Zambia. BMC Pediatr. 2016; 16:136. PMID: 27542355.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/1/2016

    Bonawitz R, Sambambi K, Vickery M, Hamomba L, Hammond E, Duncan J, Musokotwane K, Thea D, Herlihy JM. Identifying Gaps in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV: A Case Series of HIV-positive Infants in Zambia. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2016 Jul; 35(7):772-6. PMID: 27093163.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/1/2015

    Herlihy JM, Hamomba L, Bonawitz R, Goggin CE, Sambambi K, Mwale J, Musonda V, Musokatwane K, Hopkins KL, Semrau K, Hammond EE, Duncan J, Knapp AB, Thea DM. Implementation and Operational Research: Integration of PMTCT and Antenatal Services Improves Combination Antiretroviral Therapy Uptake for HIV-Positive Pregnant Women in Southern Zambia: A Prototype for Option B+? J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Dec 1; 70(4):e123-9. PMID: 26181813.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 7/15/2015

    Moschovis PP, Addo-Yobo EO, Banajeh S, Chisaka N, Christiani DC, Hayden D, Jeena P, MacLeod WB, Mino G, Patel A, Qazi S, Santosham M, Thea DM, Hibberd PL. Stunting is associated with poor outcomes in childhood pneumonia. Trop Med Int Health. 2015 Oct; 20(10):1320-8. PMID: 26083963.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 6/8/2015

    Naik R, Doherty T, Jackson D, Tabana H, Swanevelder S, Thea DM, Feeley FG, Fox MP. Linkage to care following a home-based HIV counselling and testing intervention in rural South Africa. J Int AIDS Soc. 2015; 18:19843. PMID: 26058983.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 4/29/2015

    Bonawitz RE, Duncan J, Hammond E, Hamomba L, Nambule J, Sambambi K, Musonda V, Calise A, Knapp A, Mwale J, McCauley J, Thea D, Herlihy JM. Assessment of the impact of rapid syphilis tests on syphilis screening and treatment of pregnant women in Zambia. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2015 Jun; 130 Suppl 1:S58-62. PMID: 25968492.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 3/9/2015

    Fox MP, Baqui AH, Hibberd PL, Black RE, Santosham M, Bhutta Z, Thea DM. Antibiotic trials for community-acquired pneumonia. Lancet Respir Med. 2015 Mar; 3(3):e4-5. PMID: 25773214.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 2/2/2015

    Hamer DH, Herlihy JM, Musokotwane K, Banda B, Mpamba C, Mwangelwa B, Pilingana P, Thea DM, Simon JL, Yeboah-Antwi K, Grogan C, Semrau KE. Engagement of the community, traditional leaders, and public health system in the design and implementation of a large community-based, cluster-randomized trial of umbilical cord care in Zambia. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2015 Mar; 92(3):666-72. PMID: 25646254.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/30/2014

    Qazi SA, Fox MP, Thea DM. Editorial commentary: ambulatory management of chest-indrawing pneumonia. Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Apr 15; 60(8):1225-7. PMID: 25550348.

    Read at: PubMed

View 127 more publications:View full profile at BUMC

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