International Advisory Board

James Watt

Chairman, Council for British Research in the Levant, London

James Watt CVO joined the R4HC-MENA programme in April 2018 as Chairman of the International Advisory Board. He is furthermore currently chairman of the Council for British Research in the Levant (, a body funded through the British Academy supporting post-doctoral research in the social sciences and humanities in Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, and with institutes in Jerusalem and Amman. He is also a trustee of the London Middle East Institute, at the School of Oriental and African Studies ( In addition, he is a trustee of the British Lebanese Association ( responsible for the masters-level scholarship programme. Separately he works in London as a political risk consultant on the Middle East as a partner in the Ambassador Partnership ( and is a commentator on the politics of the region. His earlier career was in the British Diplomatic Service from 1977-2014, specialising in the Middle East and serving as ambassador to Lebanon (2003-6), Jordan (2006-11) and Egypt (2011-14). He and his wife, Amal, have homes and children in London and Beirut.

Professor Sanchia Aranda

Chief Executive Officer Cancer Council Australia, President | Union for International Cancer Control, Sydney, Australia

Professor Sanchia Aranda was appointed as CEO of Cancer Council Australia in August 2015. In this role Sanchia leads cancer policy and advocacy development, ensuring a strong evidence base is used to inform cancer control in Australia. She also holds academic appointments with the

University of Melbourne, University of Technology, Sydney and the University of Sydney. As a registered nurse, Sanchia has 38 years’ experience in cancer control and has held roles in healthcare, research, tertiary education and government prior to joining the not-for-profit sector. She has held significant leadership roles in Australian Cancer Control, including 8 years on the Advisory Council for Cancer Australia (2006-2015), an agency of the Australian Government.

Sanchia also has extensive international cancer control experience, with 16 years on the board of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care, including 4 as President (2006-2010). She is the President for the Union for International Cancer Control (2016-2018) and has been on the board of UICC for 8 years. She is also a board member for the International Collaboration on Cancer Reporting and the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia. Her contributions to cancer control have been recognized nationally and internationally through awards and keynote speaker invitations. In 2013 she was named the 4th Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Distinguished Fellow for her contributions to Cancer Nursing and in 2016 received the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care Distinguished Merit award.

Dr Rana Khatib

Director of Knowledge Management and Media, Taawon Health Expert, Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University, Palestine

Rana Khatib holds a PhD in Pharmaceutical Policy and Management from the Robert Gordon University, UK, an MSc in Medical and Pharmaceutical Research from the Vrjie Universitait of Brussels (VUB), and a Bachelor’s degree in industrial Pharmacy from Jordan University. She has held the position of Researcher for 13 years and Director of the internationally renowned Birzeit University (BZU) Institute of Community and Public Health for 8 years, where she was heavily involved in developmental research with a focus on pharmaceuticals, non-communicable diseases, health information systems and health and education policy development.

Dr. Khatib, Associate Professor, is a well-established trainer locally and regionally in the areas of evidence-based public policies, communicating evidence to policy makers, health planning and policy development. Dr Khatib was a member in the BZU research committee, a member in the academic network for the EMRO-WHO, an evaluator for the Ministry of Higher Education for new academic programmes and currently a member in the Higher National Research Council in Palestine. She is also a reviewer for some international scientific and specialized journals and a reviewer for the World Health Organization of proposals submitted regionally. She has participated in many local and international conferences representing Palestine, and is an active member in the Lancet Palestine Health Alliance (LPHA) steering committee and various health related national committees and advisory boards.

In her current role, Dr. Khatib is heavily involved in research and planning with a focus on developing strategic plans and programmes with developmental approaches, including the SDGs 2030.

Dr. Mohammed Rasoul Tarawneh

Secretary-General, High Health Council, Amman

Dr. Tarawneh is currently the Secretary General of High Health Council. Prior to this, he was director of Primary Health Care Administration , Planning Administration, NCD Directorate, Cancer Prevention Directorate, Medical Training and Education, Chief of Family Physicians and FPTP.

Dr. Tarawneh earned his MD from Leningrad Medical Institute in 1985. He was certified by the Jordan Medical Board in Family Medicine in 1994 and received a high Diploma in Community Medicine – Epidemiology from Jordan University in 1997. In 2001 he received his post graduate Diploma in Diabetes from Cardiff University, Wales.

He has led various major projects within the Ministry of Health, including; National Nutritional survey, National Newborn Screening Program, community-Based diabetic clinics. Dr.Tarawneh also established and worked for the National Breast Cancer Screening Programme and the national Non-Communicable Diseases strategic plan.

Dr. Tarawneh is the author of over 35 peer-reviewed publications and has delivered numerous scientific presentations at notable national and international conferences. Currently, he is the President of both the Jordan Society of Family Medicine and the Jordan Society of Health Care Staff Protection. He is also a member of the Jordanian Society for the Care of Diabetes, the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA), and the Editorial Board MEJ Medical Journals. Dr. Tarawneh has received several awards of recognition throughout his career.

Professor Sophie Witter

Professor of International Health Financing and Health Systems, Institute for Global Health and Development, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

Sophie Witter is a health economist specialising in health system research and health financing/economics in low and middle-income countries – a field she has worked in for nearly 30 years. Her research focus has been on health financing strategies, with an emphasis on increasing financial access to care, and developing provider payment systems which deliver quality care for all. Since 2011, Sophie has been working on health system reconstruction post-conflict, including through the ReBUILD research consortium, and on resilient systems for refugee health in the Middle East. Her academic and technical advisory work uses a range of methods, including quantitative surveys, modelling, qualitative methods, historical analysis and documentary review. She is Professor at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh; ReBUILD co-director; Deputy Director of the NIHR Research Unit on Health in Fragility at QMU Edinburgh, which focuses on mental health and non-communicable diseases in fragile settings; co-investigator for the resilience project (understanding and modelling resilience of systems for refugee health care by UNWRA); and Oxford Policy Management health portfolio associate.

Professor Bülent Altun

Dean of the Medical School Hacettepe University, Ankara

Dr. Bülent Altun is currently the Dean of Hacettepe University, Faculty of Medicine and also serving as a full-time professor at the Department of Internal Medicine (Subdivision – Nephrology). Dr. Altun graduated and received the M.D. degree in 1990 from Hacettepe University, Faculty of Medicine. He enrolled in the residency programme at the Department of Internal Medicine in 1992 and was awarded the specialist degree in this field after successfully completing the programme in 1996. His Nephrology specialization training was between 1996 – 1999. During his training he also served as a Fellow at the Department of Nephrology at University Hospitals of Bordeaux.

Dr. Altun is especially interested in the field of Hypertension and Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD), focusing on their prevalence and incidence in Turkey.

Dr. Altun has been appointed Secretary of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th National Congress of Hypertension and Renal Diseases; General Secretary of Turkish Society of Hypertension and Renal Diseases; Executive Board Member and Chair – Hypertension Working Group of Turkish Society of Nephrology; Member of the Organizing Committee of National Nephrology, Hypertension, Dialysis and Transplantation Congress; Member of Faculty of Medicine Executive Faculty Board; President of the Department of Internal Medicine Assistant Commission; Vice President of Department of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Altun also has a number of honors and awards granted to him by various institutions and organizations in relation to his academic publications and studies throughout his career. Currently, he has nearly 100 international peer-reviewed publications.

Professor Jocelyn DeJong

Professor and Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut

Jocelyn DeJong conducts research on reproductive health with a focus on the Arab region and most recently on populations (particularly women and adolescents) affected by the Syrian conflict. Her recent studies have ranged from hospital studies in four countries of the region on maternal ‘near-miss’ cases, to a review of available data on the reproductive, maternal and child health situation of Syrian refugees in countries bordering Syria, to community-based intervention study on early marriage among Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Originally from Canada, she has worked most of her professional life in the Middle Eastern and North African region and coordinates with a regional advisory board a capacity-building regional research network on reproductive health in the Arab countries and Turkey entitled the Reproductive Health Working Group. She is currently a professor and Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs at the Faculty of Health Sciences, the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) where she has worked since 2005. She previously ran a regional grant program in reproductive health (supporting research, programs and advocacy efforts) particularly in Egypt and the occupied Palestinian territories at the Ford Foundation’s regional office in Cairo, Egypt. She holds a BA from Harvard Unversity, MPhil from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex and a PhD from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.