Kristina Wallengren, PhD, MPH, is a passionate TB and HIV researcher and Public Health expert. She trained in TB epidemiology at Harvard University after redefining her career as a basic scientist and sailing halfway around the world.

Dr Wallengren is the founder and Director of THINK, registered in 2013 as a non-profit organisation in South Africa to improve the lives of those affected by TB and HIV. In 2021, she co-founded THINK International, an International NGO based in Denmark, to expand the work of THINK beyond South Africa. Dr Wallengren is a basic scientist by training, with a PhD in Molecular Biology from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and a Master of Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health, USA.

In Africa, she learned about public health from inside hospital corridors, side by side with clinical staff and traditional healers. She saw the plight of people and communities affected by TB and HIV and faced the complexities placed on policymakers and programme managers within the government. Set out to make a difference, she has attracted and led teams of equally driven individuals who together have impacted the world for a better place both locally and globally.

At THINK, the first new TB drugs since the 1950s have been brought forward and put together in clinical trials leading to improved and shorter TB treatment regimens for adults and children. These ground-breaking results have led WHO to change the guidelines for MDR TB treatment globally, and a standard 9-months treatment regimen is now standard of care in South Africa thanks to this work. Researchers at THINK have published the first international practical guidelines for introducing even shorter regimens.

THINK has conducted multiple health, economic and social science studies shedding light on the different challenges experienced between men and women in obtaining cure from TB. Technology implementation and software development is a prime focus area at THINK, taking advantage of technology to close gaps in the health care cascade and support systematic and holistic delivery of health care services in resource-limited settings. For example, Video Observed Therapy uses mobile phone technology to support treatment and bring people closer to their health care providers in real-time, and the CATT software alerts health care providers of actions not taken on time and of clients who did not show up.

By interlinking research, training and health systems strengthening and harnessing the drive of passionate people, THINK has a unique ability to deliver quality output and achieve meaningful impact to improve people’s lives.

Dr Wallengren has served as TB Focal Point and Member of the Global Fund Technical Review Panel and has conducted epidemiological reviews, programme evaluations and situational analysis of TB and HIV with WHO in several African and Asian countries.

During the ten years she spent as a laboratory-based scientist in Sweden, Spain and the US, she developed technologies applied to vaccine development, gene therapy and molecular epidemiology.