Dr. Ben Amor is a Research Scientist at the Earth Institute and the Director of the HIV/AIDS and TB Initiative at the Millennium Villages Project. He is also the Director of the Tropical Laboratory Initiative and is currently investigating the critical role of new diagnostics in the control of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in developing countries. Yanis is responsible for the successful implementation of laboratories within the Millennium Villages.  His HIV/AIDS related research revolves around the optimum time for HIV retesting during pregnancy for early diagnosis of seroconversion. Dr. Ben Amor analyzes new, rapid diagnostic tools being investigated and develops ways to allow their implementation in resource-poor settings, where electricity and clean water can be limiting factors. As part of his work with the Millennium Villages Project, Yanis is also developing a point-of-care diagnostic toolkit for community health workers based on existing tests to diagnose diseases such as malaria, syphilis and HIV infection. 

Dr. Ben Amor has a PhD in Molecular Biology, and a Masters in the same discipline from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Rennes (Rennes, France). He has published widely in the areas of tuberculosis diagnosis, global health, and prevention. He is also regularly a speaker on behalf of Columbia University and the Earth Institute at various conferences worldwide.


Justine Dowden, MPH is a graduate of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health where she studied population and family health with a focus on health and human rights. In addition to her work with YN, Justine is currently co-leading a research study in partnership with the Millennium Villages Project in Rwanda that investigates how having access to sanitary pads and/or reproductive health education affects the psychosocial well-being of adolescent girls.

Previously, Justine has worked for the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction in Geneva, an African development organization in Amsterdam, a health care access project for marginalized children in California, and for non-profits that support women’s rights both globally and domestically. In India, Justine has taught science at a primary school and worked at a maternal health and rights organization for one year. Justine currently serves as YN's Project Manager. She is responsible for supporting local monitoring and evaluation of research activities, data collection and analysis, and daily operations.


Balakrishna Tunikipati has extensive leadership experience in the fields of health care and supply chain management as well as in capacity-building and job placement at the community level with teachers. He spent several years as a counselor at a hospital dealing with challenges of maternal, child, and adolescent health.

Bala is currently the Chronic Absenteeism Assessment Project Consultant based in India. In this capacity, he works with both district officials and field staff to prevent absenteeism and dropout among adolescents in two rural high-risk areas of the region.


Veeraiah Thota is a social work professional specializing in public health, HIV/AIDS prevention, rural development, as well as women’s empowerment through self help groups and community mobilization. He has 15 years of experience in the development sector; and has worked with various marginalized and vulnerable groups in NGOs and community-based organizations both in rural and urban settings. Veeru also has leadership experience supporting female sex workers, men who have sex with men, and other high risk populations in rural India.