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#Indundi diaspora | Young Burundian woman on her way to becoming international scientist

By Miss Pilipili / Published on Monday, 09 Jan 2017 11:26 AM / / 3495 views
Mireille Kamariza, a graduate student in Stanford, is trying to develop a faster test to diagnose TB. Fred Tomlin/Courtesy of Mireille Kamariza

Mireille Kamariza, 27, recently unveiled,with the help of her adviser, an innovative way to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) faster and more accurately.

The native of Burundi, who is now a graduate student at the prestigious Stanford university in California,  was compelled to focus her research on infectious disease because of her family’s history with TB. A close relative of hers died from the disease “because he didn’t know you could be treated, and even if he did know, [treatment] was far from where he was-and expensive” explains Kamariza.

Kamariza’s journey in the science world was fostered by her undergrad chemistry professor, Saloua Saidane,who is originally from Tunisia, and is familiar with the struggle faced by destitute immigrants.

“Science was something that Europeans and Americans did,” says Kamariza. “It was for other people-not for me.”

But thanks to the advice and encouragement from Saidane, Kamariza persevered and through hard work, was awarded a diversity scholarship through the National Institutes of Health. She spent summers doing biology research at the University  of California in San Diego.

In collaboration with another Stanford student, she worked on a new TB test  that would spot the sugar “trehalose” of an infected person’s mucus or saliva more rapidly. Kamariza and her colleagues tested the new method on some patients in South Africa, and presented her data at a TB conference in Paris in September 2016.

Although the research is still ongoing, Kamariza is an inspiration to all Burundians, especially to girls who don’t believe they can succeed in the field of science.

We will keep following the journey of this amazing woman and wish her all the success in her future endeavors. For more on Mireille Kamariza’s story, check out: http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2017/01/07/506751969/they-never-told-her-that-girls-could-become-scientists

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