Dr. Laar has academic training in Nutrition, Public Health, and Bioethics. Currently, his research focuses on two distinct, yet related areas of public health: bioethics (ethics & public health; health & human rights, and food ethics); public health nutrition (food literacy, food environment, food systems, nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, and the nexus between food environment and health). Dr. Laar spent the past decade exploring the “socio-cultural, socio-ethical, and medico-ethical dimensions of HIV, as well as maternal and child nutrition.
He has been a Principal/Co-Investigator of over 20 successful research grants at the University of Ghana – leading such projects as the “Non-prescription Medication Use Project” (which assessed multiple non-prescription medications use among Ghanaian HIV-positive persons on antiretroviral therapy); Know-Your- HIV Response Study: Mapping of HIV prevention activities to the district level in the Greater Accra region, Ghana.
His current work in nutrition is centered on obesity and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases (NR-NCDs) prevention and includes projects such as the UK-AID/ Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded “Dietary Transitions in Ghanaian Cities”, and the MRC/GCRF-funded “Dietary Transitions in African Cities Project” (both of which identified how social, and physical environments drive consumption of energy-dense nutrient-poor foods and beverages). He is currently the Principal Investigator of an IDRC-funded project, the MEALS4NCDs Project, which aims at providing Measurement Evaluation, Accountability and Leadership Support (MEALS) for NCDs prevention in Ghana and beyond. He was recently recognized in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, for his efforts at combating NR-NCDs in Ghana: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(19)30216-5/fulltext.
As the Co-Principal Investigator and Ghana Lead of an NIH-funded project which aims to build sustainable ethics capacity in Ghana, he is leading the efforts to establish a masters program in Bioethics at the University of Ghana – the first of its kind in Ghana.
Dr. Laar publishes for both academic and non-academic audiences. His scholarly works include 70 scientific publications (one book, five book chapters, 64 peer-reviewed journal articles; 50 of these articles are indexed in PubMed or Scopus). He, his graduate students, and collaborators have presented 70 papers at local and international scientific conferences. Dr. Laar also writes for non-academic audiences (these include 16 OpEds/feature articles, and commentaries in local print/electronic media).
Dr. Laar currently advises the Government of Ghana on various public health and nutrition issues: e.g. scaling up nutrition (SUN); development of ethically sensitive national response strategies for HIV. He was one of two experts who supported the development of Ghana’s ~78 million US Dollars Global Fund Grant for HIV/TB for the period 2018-2020.
He has served as lead consultant to various United Nations Agencies (WFP, FAO, UNAIDS) non-governmental organizations/international organizations (Global Fund/France Expertise Internationale, Africa Synergy Group Plus, WAPCAS, THET, UK, DKT International Inc/Grameen Foundation, Mariestopes International Ghana, ADDRO, Population Council), and national governments – Ghana (Ghana AIDS Commission, National Development Planning Commission, National Population Council, Ghana Health Service), and foreign governments (Government of Sierra Leone).