Lisa J. Messersmith, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor
Boston University School of Public Health
Global Health

PhD, University of California, Los Angeles
MPH, Johns Hopkins University
MA, University of California, Los Angeles

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Lisa J. Messersmith has over 25 years of research, program and policy experience on gender, sexuality, HIV, and sexual and reproductive health and rights in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and Southeast Asia. Dr. Messersmith is the principal investigator (PI) on several studies, most recently on a National Institute of Mental Health-funded study to test the effectiveness of wireless technology and data-informed counseling to improve retention in HIV care and adherence to antiretroviral therapy in HIV positive pregnant and postpartum women in Uganda. Other current research includes: a randomized control trial to evaluate interventions to address intimate partner violence in Tanzania; two studies in Ghana that explore the behavioral, socio-economic and structural vulnerability to HIV of people who inject drugs and women who work in bars; a study on the HIV and reproductive health and social service needs of women living with HIV and the first national study to document the types and magnitude of discrimination experienced by people living with HIV in Vietnam. She was also the principal investigator and Director of the Vietnam AIDS Policy and Planning Project, which trained nearly 850 senior policy makers at national and provincial level to design, implement and evaluate rights-based and multi-sectoral responses to HIV. Dr. Messersmith worked in residence for over 13 years in Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Vietnam and has worked in a number of other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Before joining BU SPH in 2007 she was as an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy and Research Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. From 1998 to 2004 Dr. Messersmith served as the Sexuality and Reproductive Health Program Officer for the Ford Foundation's Office for Vietnam and Thailand. Prior to her departure in 2004, the Vietnam Ministry of Health awarded her the Medal for the People's Health. In 2003, Dr. Messersmith was a visiting fellow at the Francois Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health. She served as the Country Programme Advisor for UNAIDS in Bangladesh from 1996 to 1998. From 1994 to 1995 she was a Research Associate in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and concurrently served as the Women and AIDS advisor for USAID in Washington, DC. Dr. Messersmith's career in international health and development began in Burkina Faso in 1985 where she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer. She has a PhD and MA in Anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, a Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Hamilton College.

Associate Professor
Boston University College of Arts and Sciences

Testing and Texting in Community Health Center Dental Clinics to Diagnose and Prevent HIV Infection
09/24/2021 - 09/23/2023 (Key Person)
PI: Michelle Henshaw, DDS
NIH/National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research

Improving ART Retention and Adherence in Uganda: the WiseMama Study
09/01/2014 - 06/30/2018 (Multi-PI)
PI: Lisa J. Messersmith, PhD, MPH
NIH/National Institute of Mental Health

Mixed Method Study to Test the Effectiveness of TEVAW: A program to reduce intimate partner violence through women's empowerment, male peer groups
09/01/2014 - 11/30/2016 (PI)
World Education, Inc

Engendering the Care and Treatment Response: Addressing the Need of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
07/01/2008 - 02/28/2010 (PI)
Center for Community Health and Development (COHED) USAID

Vietnam AIDS Policy and Planning Project
10/01/2007 - 05/31/2009 (PI)


Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Bosak J, Messersmith L, Bryer C, Drainoni M, Goodman D, Adams M, Barry T, Flanagan C, Flanagan V, Wolff K, Declercq E. "They just looked at me like I was human": The experiences of parenting women and providers with substance use disorder treatment. J Subst Use Addict Treat. 2024 Feb; 157:209240.View Related Profiles. PMID: 38061633
  2. Bosak J, Drainoni ML, Bryer C, Goodman D, Messersmith L, Declercq E. 'It opened my eyes, my ears, and my heart': Codesigning a substance use disorder treatment programme. Health Expect. 2023 Nov 03; 27(1).View Related Profiles. PMID: 37920874; DOI: 10.1111/hex.13908;
  3. Adjei, Rose, Messersmith, Lisa, Beard, Jennifer, and Yaw Sarkodie. 2023 Report: National Harm Reduction Forum: Development of National Action Plan. 2023.
  4. Sabin LL, Simmons E, Halim N, Hamer DH, Gifford AL, West RL, Larson A, Bonawitz R, Aroda P, Banigbe B, Holderman AJ, Murray L, DeSilva MB, Gasuza J, Mukasa B, Messersmith LJ. Real-time Feedback to Improve HIV Treatment Adherence in Pregnant and Postpartum Women in Uganda: A Randomized Controlled Trial. AIDS Behav. 2022 Dec; 26(12):3834-3847.View Related Profiles. PMID: 35704124; DOI: 10.1007/s10461-022-03712-7;
  5. Messersmith LJ, Ladha A, Kolhe C, Patel A, Summers JS, Rao SR, Das P, Mohammady M, Conant E, Ramanathan N, Hibberd PL. Poor power quality is a major barrier to providing optimal care in special neonatal care units (SNCU) in Central India. Gates Open Res. 2022; 6:58.View Related Profiles. PMID: 37383544; DOI: 10.12688/gatesopenres.13479.1;
  6. Monica A. Onyango, Houda Chergui, Lora L. Sabin, Lisa J. Messersmith, Natalya Sarkisova, Jane Oyombra, Perez Akello, Daniel O. Kwaro, Juliana Otieno. School-level Barriers of Antiretroviral Therapy Adherence and Interventions to Overcome them Among Adolescents Living with HIV in Western Kenya: A Qualitative Study. The Open AIDS Journal. 2021; 15:93-107. View Publication
  7. Messersmith LJ, Adjei R, Beard J, Bazzi AR, Earlywine JJ, Darko E, Agyarko-Poku T, Asafo MK, Bempah SA, Adu-Sarkodie Y. High levels of used syringe use and unsafe sex among people who inject drugs in Kumasi, Ghana: an urgent call for a comprehensive harm reduction approach. Harm Reduct J. 2021 06 10; 18(1):62.View Related Profiles. PMID: 34112187; DOI: 10.1186/s12954-021-00510-7;
  8. Kimmel AL, Messersmith LJ, Bazzi AR, Sullivan MM, Boudreau J, Drainoni ML. Implementation of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis for women of color: Perspectives from healthcare providers and staff from three clinical settings. J HIV AIDS Soc Serv. 2021; 19(4):299-319.View Related Profiles. PMID: 34456637; DOI: 10.1080/15381501.2021.1887038;
  9. Sabin LL, Halim N, Hamer DH, Simmons EM, Jonnalagadda S, Larson Williams A, Chemusto H, Gifford AL, Bonawitz R, Aroda P, DeSilva M, Gasuza J, Mukasa B, Messersmith LJ. Retention in HIV Care Among HIV-Seropositive Pregnant and Postpartum Women in Uganda: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. AIDS Behav. 2020 Nov; 24(11):3164-3175.View Related Profiles. PMID: 32314120
  10. Murillo A, DeSilva MB, Sabin LL, Halim N, Chemusto H, Aroda P, Gasuza J, Hamer DH, Williams AL, Mukasa B, Messersmith LJ, Bonawitz R. Impact of a Maternal Prevention of Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) Intervention on HIV-exposed Infants in Uganda. Int J MCH AIDS. 2020; 9(3):320-329.View Related Profiles. PMID: 32765963; DOI: 10.21106/ijma.380;
Showing 10 of 38 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 38 publications over 19 distinct years, with a maximum of 4 publications in 2010


2010 Boston University School of Public Health: Excellent in Teaching Award
2004 Socialist Republic of Vietnam: Medal for the People's Health
2003 International Health and Human Rights Program, Francois Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human : Fellow
1993-1994 American Association of University Women Educational Foundation: American Fellow
1993-1994 University of California, Los Angeles: Chancellor's Dissertation Year Fellowship
1992-1993 Fulbright Fellowship for dissertation research in Nigeria
1991 UCLA: Department of Anthropology Tuition Fellowship
1990 UCLA: Center for the Study of Women Research and Travel Award
1990-1991 National Resource Fellowship (Title VI)
1990 UCLA: Department of Anthropology Awards Committee Research Grant
1983 Hamilton College: Thomas E. Meehan Prize for Distinction in Creative Writing
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