The staff and collaborators

Staff and associate lecturers and consultants of the Centre / Knowledge Hub for HIV Surveillance in Croatia

Dr. Ivana Božičević, MSc (LSHTM), DrPH (LSHTM)

Her responsibilities at the Centre for HIV Surveillance include surveillance-related research, training courses development and provision of technical assistance. Ivana holds an MSc in Public Health and a doctorate in public health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where she is currently a staff member on a distance-learning MSc in Public Health. Her doctorate thesis included assessment and comparisons of correlates of STIs from clinic-based and population-based datasets in England, as well as research into determinants of asymptomatic STIs. She has done country-level work on HIV surveillance in Croatia (including a general population-based survey on sexual behaviours and attitudes in youth, and a bio-behavioural survey using respondent-driven sampling in homosexual men); and has worked for WHO  in a number of countries (Ukraine, Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Moldova, Egypt, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Tanzania, Qatar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Oman, Yemen). Other tasks include writing up Guidelines for HIV Surveillance in Low-Level and Concentrated Epidemics.

Professor Stipe Orešković, PhD

The responsibility of professor Orešković is to ensure coherence and quality in the activities, and overall leadership in terms of organisation and accountability for performance of the work plan. His role is to shape the direction and management of the Centre with particular reference to identifying opportunities for development. Professor Orešković has a PhD in behavioural sciences and was one of the first researchers on epidemiology of HIV and hepatitis in Croatia.

Jurja-Ivana Čakalo, MD

Jurja's responsibilities at the Centre for HIV Surveillance include lecturing, development of training courses, provision of technical assistance and participation on international projects related to HIV surveillance in Eastern Europe and Africa. She has participated as a lecturer on training courses related to Knowledge hub management, Respondent driven sampling, Triangulation, Population size estimates, Monitoring and evaluation of second generation surveillance, Advanced methods of HIV surveillance and Designing surveillance protocols.

She currently participates on the project of respondent driven sampling in population of men who have sex with men in Croatia as well as the triangulation project in Ukraine. She participated as a lecturer on the training course on facility based HIV surveillance in Iran. She speaks English fluently and uses German and Italian language.

Professor Aleksandar Stulhofer, PhD

Head of Sexology Unit at the Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb and Affiliated Faculty of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. His recent research focuses of HIV risk taking in vulnerable groups. He worked as short-term WHO consultant in Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Turkmenistan, Palestine, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosova, and Iran. Dr Stulhofer is member of the International Academy of Sex Research.

Professor Josip Begovac, PhD, MD

Dr. Begovac is Professor of Infectious Diseases at the University of Zagreb Medical School. He is also Vice Chair of the HIV Prevention Committee of the Government of Croatia and the Head of the Reference Centre of HIV at the University Hospital of Infectious Diseases in Zagreb, Croatia. Educated at University of Zagreb Medical School, he specialized in infectious diseases at the University Hospital of Infectious Diseases in Zagreb. He has worked primary in infectious diseases and during his last 10 years was mainly involved in public health and clinical issues concerning HIV/AIDS.

Associate professor Branko Kolaric, MD, PhD

Dr Branko Kolaric  works as an epidemiologist at the Institute of Public Health of the Zagreb County. He has done extensive research in HIV epidemiology in Croatia and has worked as a consultant in HIV surveillance in  FYR Macedonia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was Head of the HIV-2 Programme of the Global Fund funded Project “Scaling-up HIV/ AIDS Response in Croatia”. Dr Kolaric works as an Assistant Professor at the School of Medicine in Rijeka.

Snježana Židovec Lepej, PhD

Dr. Židovec Lepej is a Senior Scientific Associate at the University of Zagreb Medical School. She is also the Head of Laboratory for Molecular Diagnostics and Cellular Immunity at the University Hospital for Infectious Diseases „Dr. Fran Mihaljević“ in Zagreb, Croatia. She graduated molecular biology at the Faculty for Natural Sciences, University of Zagreb. She worked in biotechnological company Institute of Immunology, Zagreb as a Head of Interferon Department. Her Master of Science thesis included research on cytokine synthesis in vitro. Her PhD thesis included analysis of the kinetics of immune reconstitution in HIV-patients receiving HAART. Her scientific interests include molecular diagnostics of infectious diseases and immunology. She is the principal investigator of the scientific project „Immune reconstitution and resistance to antiretrovirals in HIV-patients in Croatia“ supported by the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport, Republic of Croatia.

Senad Handanagić, MD, MSc

Senad has joined the Centre for HIV Surveillance in 2011 and since then he has been working as an external associate on data analysis and grant applications. He participates as a lecturer in training courses. He provided technical assistance in Myanmar, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan and Ukraine and in 2015 he was working on the HIV IBBS (RDS survey) among PWID in three cities in Croatia. Senad graduated from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine and has an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Jelena Barbarić, MD, MSc, PhD

Jelena’s activities at the Centre include lecturing, grant applications, as well as participation in research and technical assistance projects. She has worked on HIV-related projects in countries including Croatia, Morocco, the Russian Federation, Tanzania and the Ukraine. In addition, she has contributed to several WHO meetings/technical consultations (global and regional) in Croatia, Lebanon and Kazakhstan in preparatory research, as a speaker and/or facilitator. Jelena graduated from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine, with the final semester completed at the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. She holds an MSc in International Health Management from the Imperial College London and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Zagreb School of Medicine.

Zoran Dominković

Zoran's responsibilities include developing training courses, lecturing and providing technical assistance. Since 2006, Zoran has worked in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Somaliland on HIV surveillance, most often providing technical support in setting up surveys using respondent driven sampling and data analysis.  He is currently a candidate for Master’s degree at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Additionally, he works at the Croatian LGBT organization on HIV programme for MSM, where he is a research and education coordinator, leading several projects in research, community education, prevention and community-based HIV testing. He is also a member of the Croatian National HIV Committee and a member of the European AIDS Treatment Group.

Damir Ivanković, MD, MBA

Damir is a Public Health Resident at the Division of Health Informatics and Biostatistics of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (CIPH). His current activities at the Centre include lecturing on training courses organised in Zagreb. In CIPH, he is involved with both operational and research work related to health policy, biostatistics, eHealth and management of public health data and information and its use in decision and policy-making on a national and EU level. He is also actively involved in the educational and research work through the Croatian Society for Public Health (EUPHA member), especially with topics related to health service research and evidence-based policy making. Additionally, public health related activities include 2017 president position in the European Network of Medical Residents in Public Health (EuroNet MRPH). He also works at a local LGBT voluntary counselling and testing centre in Zagreb.

Kristina Sekulić, MD, MHA, Epidemiologist

Kristina is a staff member at the Department of Epidemiology of the Karlovac County Institute of Public Health (KCIPH), where she works in the field of epidemiology of both infectious and chronic non-infectious diseases. She is also the head of the KCIH Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) Centre. She completed a postgraduate course in Leadership and Management of Health Services at Andrija Stampar School of Public Health. In her thesis, she focused on the improvement of the healthcare needs assessment process in the Karlovac County. 

Kristina is also a coordinator and counsellor at a local community-based VCT centre run by Iskorak, an NGO involved in various aspects of LGBT rights, including research, education and advocacy. At the Centre, she is a lecturer at training courses organised in Zagreb.

Dr Oktavija Rode, MSc

Dr Rode, a specialist in medical microbiology and parasitology, is the Head of Division of serological diagnostic at the University Hospital of Infectious Diseases in Zagreb. Her Master of Science thesis included research on antibodies for herpesviruses and Toxoplasma gondii in HIV-infected patients in Croatia.

Iva Jovović, BSc

Iva Jovović holds a degree in Social Work and has been participating in numerous international trainings and conferences on HIV and AIDS since 2000. The responsibilities of Iva Jovović at the Centre include project management and coordination on behalf of UNDP Croatia. Iva now holds a position of a National HIV Advisor or UNAIDS Focal Point for Croatia and is studying for an advanced degree in Social Policy at the University of Zagreb. She has extensive knowledge of HIV and AIDS issues and related political, economical and social consequences in the country and the region. She is continuously providing trainings, writing articles and publications on HIV, especially on intravenous drug use and human rights. Iva joined UN in early 2003. Her main duties include coordination of a joint UN response to HIV/AIDS in Croatia, mostly focusing on strengthening national capacities for monitoring and evaluation and harmonizing national documents with international guidelines. In late 2002, Iva founded and has to date remained an Executive Director of a NGO called Life Quality Improvement Organisation LET that strives to improve quality of life of vulnerable groups by implementing public health and social services programs.

Valerio Baćak, PhD

Valerio Baćak, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University. In 2015, he graduated with a PhD in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Valerio also holds an AM degree in Statistics from the Wharton School and a MSc in Sociology from the University of Oxford. He studies how offending and contact with the criminal justice system are related to health. His other lines of research include youth sexuality, health disparities, the social epidemiology of HIV/AIDS among vulnerable populations, and quantitative methods. Originally from Croatia, Valerio has extensive international experience conducting research in resource-limited settings. Since 2005, he consulted on public health projects for various United Nations organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Azerbaijan, West Bank and Gaza, and Iraq. His work has appeared in journals across disciplines, such as Social Problems, Social Science and Medicine, and Archives of Sexual Behaviour.

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