ISGlobal | Barcelona Institute for GlobalHealth

Equipo ISGlobal

Clara Menéndez Santos

Directora de la Iniciativa de Salud Materna, Infantil y Reproductiva

Clara Menendez, a medical graduate from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, is a registered specialist in Family Medicine and in Community Health and Preventive Medicine. Shel holds a PhD from the University of Barcelona and a DTM&H following studies at the LSHTM. She has worked in India, Latin America and PNG. However, there has been a strong focus in sub-Saharan Africa, working in The Gambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. She was a key member of the founding team of the Manhica Health Research Center in Mozambique.

Prof Menendez has devoted most of her career to describing key determinants of maternal newborn and reproductive health problems and to design and test new interventions. She has made major contributions to understanding the physiopathology and parasite biology of malaria during pregnancy and its clinical consequences for both the mother and the newborn, as well as evaluating new intervention strategies for its prevention. She has also made significant contributions to the understanding of anaemia, the role of iron deficiency and the effect of iron supplementation on infection. Over the years, she has expanded her scope of work to include other infectious diseases that particularly affect women of child bearing age, including HIV and HPV infection. A major area of focus, that builds on more than 15 years of work, relates to the description of causes of maternal deaths based on full autopsies and the current adaptation and validation of new approaches based on minimally invasive autopsies.

Prof Menendez has published more than 200 papers and directed more than 14 PhD thesis of European and African students. She is a lecturer at the Master of Global Health at the University of Barcelona, the Master of Public Health at the University Pompeu Fabra and at the Diploma of International Tropical Pediatrics at the Instituto de Salud Carlos III. She is also a consultant for the World Health Organization on malaria control in children and pregnant women. She is also recipient of several national and international awards, including the Rudolf Geigy Prize.

Lines of research

She leads several studies focused on maternal health, from malaria in pregnancy, prevention of HIV/STIs in mothers and infants, and causes and prevention of maternal mortality. She coordinates two international multicenter consortia on Malaria in Pregnancy that include research groups from five African countries, three Latin American countries, India and Papua New Guinea, several European countries, the US and Australia.

Dr. Menendez has been responsible for designing and developing new areas of work and research focused on maternal and reproductive health in developing countries. The last project linked to this area is CaDMIA – Validation of the Minimally Invasive Autopsy (MIA) tool for cause of death investigation in developing countries, which involves the participation of Mozambique, Brazil, Pakistan, Kenya, Mali and Gabon.  

Main Publications


  • Menéndez C, Bardají A, Sigauque B, Sanz S, Aponte JJ, Mabunda S, Alonso PL. Malaria prevention with IPTp during pregnancy reduces neonatal mortality. PLoS ONE. 2010;5(2):e9438.
  • Aponte JJ, Schellenberg D, Egan A, Breckenridge A, Carneiro I, Critchley J, Danquah I, Dodoo A, Kobbe R, Lell B, May J, Premji Z, Sanz S, Sevene E, Soulaymani-Becheikh R, Winstanley P, Adjei S, Anemana S, Chandramohan D, Issifou S, Mockenhaupt F, Owusu-Agyei S, Greenwood B, Grobusch MP, Kremsner PG, Macete E, Mshinda H, Newman RD, Slutsker L, Tanner M, Alonso P, Menendez C. Lancet. Efficacy and safety of intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine for malaria in African infants: a pooled analysis of six randomised, placebo-controlled trials. 2009 Oct 31;374(9700):1533-42.
  • Ordi J, Ismail MR, Carrilho C, Romagosa C, Osman N, Machungo F, Bombí JA, Balasch J, Alonso PL, Menéndez C. Clinico-pathological discrepancies in the diagnosis of causes of maternal death in sub-Saharan Africa: retrospective analysis. PLoS Med. 2009 Feb 24;6(2):e1000036.
  • Menéndez C, Romagosa C, Ismail MR, Carrilho C, Saute F, Osman N, Machungo F, Bardaji A, Quintó L, Mayor A, Naniche D, Dobaño C, Alonso PL, Ordi J. An autopsy study of maternal mortality in Mozambique: the contribution of infectious diseases. PLoS Med. 2008 Feb;5(2):e44.
  • Menéndez C, Bardají A, Sigauque B, Romagosa C, Sanz S, Serra-Casas E, Macete E, Berenguera A, David C, Dobaño C, Naniche D, Mayor A, Ordi J, Mandomando I, Aponte JJ, Mabunda S, Alonso PL. A randomized placebo-controlled trial of intermittent preventive treatment in pregnant women in the context of insecticide treated nets delivered through the antenatal clinic.PLoS One. 2008 Apr 9;3(4):e1934.