Skip to main contentSkip to footer
A finger pointing at a scan
Brighton & Sussex Medical School

Our staff

BSMS > About BSMS > Contact us > Staff > Gemma Aellah

Gemma Aellah

Gemma Aellah

Gemma Aellah

Research Fellow
Location: BSMS Teaching Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9PX

Area of expertise: anthropology, transnational medical research, HIV

Research areas: Neglected Tropical Diseases, qualitative research, anthropology, HIV, ethics. 



Gemma Aellah (nee Jones) is a social anthropologist with interests in global health research and intervention in Africa. Before joining the 5S Foundation as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow, she carried out fieldwork around the practices of medical research, first on mental health trials in East London and then on transnational medical research in both urban and rural Kenya. She is interested in exploring medical research and intervention not as a separate domain of practice but as deeply embedded in – and reflective of - realms of social, economic, and political life.

In Kenya she worked on the Trial Communities Study with Wenzel Geissler, an anthropological study attached to an international HIV research clinic. Her related doctoral work at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine took as its starting point the place of transnational medical research activities in the everyday lives of the researchers, participants and wider community associated with a long-standing rural health and demographic surveillance site.  

She is interested in developing creative ways to communicate anthropology knowledge. She previously worked for the Royal Anthropological Institute as Education Officer, and later Research Officer. She is co-author of a workbook for global health researchers which encourages open discussion of ethical challenges when conducting research across inequalities. 



Gemma is part of The Social Sciences for Severe Stigmatising Skin Conditions (5S) Foundation; a social science study aimed at exploring severe stigmatising skin diseases -  podoconiosis, mycetoma, and scabies -  in Sudan, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Her work will focus on the social, historical, economic and political contexts and conceptualization of these neglected diseases at the international policy level. 

Selected publications 

Aellah, G., & Okoth, A. (2019). ‘Living Honourably and Independently’: Dreaming of a Good Village Life in an African Rural Health and Demographic Surveillance System Site. Etnofoor, 31(2), 103-120. doi:10.2307/26856488

Aellah, G., (2019).  “Okbichaloni (Things Aren’t Always What They Seem to Be. Know That for Sure): Hustling, HIV, and Hope in Luoland, Western Kenya”, Irish Journal of Anthropology, 22(1), 12-27.

Aellah, Gemma. (2020). Understanding Men, Mood, and Avoidable deaths from AIDS in Western Kenya. Culture, Health & Sexuality. 1-16. 10.1080/13691058.2019.1685131.

Aellah, G and Geissler, P.W (2016). Seeking Exposure: Conversions of Scientific Knowledge in an African city. Journal of Modern African Studies, 54 (3)

Aellah, G, Chantler, T and Geissler, P.W (2016) Global Health Research in an unequal world: ethics case studies from Africa. CABI, Oxford.

Madiega, P. A., Jones, G., Prince, R. J., & Geissler, P. W. (2013). 'She's my sister-in-law, my visitor, my friend' -- challenges of staff identity in home follow-up in an HIV trial in Western Kenya. Developing World Bioethics, 13(1), 21–29.

Madiega, P.A., Chantler, T., Jones, G. and Prince, R. (2008), ‘Our son Obama’: The US presidential election in Western Kenya. Anthropology Today, 24: 4-7. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8322.2008.00625.x