Wilmot G. James

Senior Research Scholar
Adjunct Professor, School of Professional Studies; Interim Chair, Center for Pandemic Research


Wilmot James, PhD is Senior Research Scholar at the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP). He received his PhD (Sociology and African History) from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Dr. James was a post-doctoral fellow of the Southern African Research Program at Yale University, the American Bar Foundation in Chicago and the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College. Dr. James pursued his interest in science and society (James, Nature’s Gifts: Why we are the way we are, WITS University Press, 2010) as a visiting fellow at the Economic and Social Research Council at the University of Edinburgh and as the Gordon Moore Visiting Professor in the Humanities at the California Institute of Technology.

Dr. James is a policy specialist. He joined the University of Cape Town in 1986 as a member of the academic faculty in sociology, and became department chair in 1992. His research on labor migration (James, Our Precious Metal: African Labour in South Africa’s Gold Industry, Indiana University Press, 1992) led to his appointment as chairman of the task team that designed the first post-apartheid refugee protection and immigration policies under President Nelson Mandela. As a Member of Parliament and opposition spokesman on health and, given Africa’s disease burden and infectious disease outbreak patterns, Dr. James developed an enduring interest in global health security policy formulation and practice. He authored and edited twenty books and policy monographs, forty plus journal articles and book chapters and over 200 opinion/education articles. He is a contributing author to and editor of Vital Signs: Health Security in South Africa (Brenthurst Foundation, 2020). His greatest honor was to serve as a co-editor of the late President Nelson Mandela’s presidential speeches published as Nelson Mandela In His Own Words (Little Brown and Co, 2003). 

As Trustee of the Ford Foundation and Chairman of its Education, Media, Arts and Culture (EMAC) committee, Dr. James oversaw the introduction of a $320 million International Fellowship Program, the largest single program investment the Foundation ever made. Over 4,300 students graduated with masters level degrees worldwide with support from the Foundation.  

Dr. James current research interests are in global health security. He serves as a senior consultant to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) in biosecurity. He is an honorary professor of public health at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 Completed Research Projects

  1. Children’s Hospitals in Africa Mapping Project (CHAMP) surveyed pediatric services at 24 collaborating hospitals across sub-Saharan Africa. With Drs. Lawrence Stanberry and Philip Larussa, Department of Pediatrics, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Funded by the ELMA Foundation and private gift from Charles V. Hamilton.

Ongoing Research Projects

  1. Pan-African Neonatal Care Assessment Survey (PANCAS) will gather information about neonatal mortality risk resulting from nosocomial infections in African hospitals. With Drs. Lawrence Stanberry, Philip Larussa and Lisa Saiman, Department of Pediatrics, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
  2. Pandemic Response in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, August 2020 to November 2021. With Dr. Lawrence Stanberry. Funded by Schmidt Futures.
  3. Vaccine safety and pharmaco-vigilance in Africa. Risk communication and SARS-COV2 vaccine take-up. With Dr. Lawrence Stanberry. Funded by Schmidt Futures.

The Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) is closed in accordance with the University’s COVID-19 policy.  Please click here for additional information and guidance for students, affiliates, and employees.


Don't want to miss our interesting news and updates! Make sure to join our newsletter list.

* indicates required

Contact us

For general questions about ISERP programs, services, and events.