News: AAAS 2013 Annual Meeting News
Early-Career Women Scientists from Developing World Honored
Huda Omer Basaleem
Five talented, early-career women scientists from Bangladesh, Peru, Mongolia, Nigeria and Yemen received an award recognizing their research excellence today at the AAAS Minority and Women Scientists and Engineers Networking Breakfast.
The prize, awarded by the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD), the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) and the Elsevier Foundation, honored each of the recipients with $ 5,000 and all-expenses-paid attendance at the AAAS Annual Meeting.
“In many countries in the world, women have few opportunities for education, and certainly not education in science and not at this level,” said Shirley Malcom, director of AAAS Education and Human Resources, which organized the networking breakfast. “These women have forged a path that will position them to take on an active role in helping address the development challenges of their countries, their regions and collectively, for the world. In this regard they will also be role models for the young women whom we hope will follow them.”
The prize-winners’ research spans a wide range of life-science fields, including medical imaging, parasite biology, catalytic antibodies, the pharmacology of medicinal plants, and women’s health.
Nasima Akhter studied in Bangladesh and Japan and has been working as a Nuclear Medicine Physician in the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission since 1998. She is now a Senior Medical Officer of the Center for Nuclear Medicine and Ultrasound, Dhaka Medical College Hospital Campus. Dr. Akhter is currently conducting clinical research on nuchal translucency-based fetal screening for congenital anomalies during in the first trimester of pregnancy. While screening for fetal congenital anomalies is well-established in the developed world, this is not the case in developing countries, Akhter said. She is also investigating the usefulness of nonradioactive iodine adjunct medication with radioiodine therapy in Graves’ disease.
Dionicia Gamboa studied in Peru, Belgium and the Netherlands and is now an assistant professor in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Sciences at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia and a researcher at the Institute of Tropical Medicine Alexander von Humboldt in Lima. Her research team investigates the molecular and cell biology of Plasmodium, the parasite that causes malaria. She has contributed to a variety of efforts against malaria, including coordinating a program to train 298 physicians, technicians and health promoters from the Peruvian Ministry of Health, working in different malaria-endemic areas. Most information about malaria relates to the disease as it occurs in Africa and Asia, “but we are demonstrating that malaria is different in the Amazon region,” Gamboa said.
Erdenechimeg Namiji is a researcher in the Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences. She studies catalytic antibodies or “abzymes,” which have been detected recently in the sera of patients and animals with many autoimmune diseases. Normal humans or animals unusually do not contain Abzs. Namiji’s research has led to a variety of new findings about the enzymatic activity of these antibodies, including the first evidence showing that antibodies from healthy rats interact with hydrogen peroxide and show peroxidase-like activity.
Adediwura Fred-Jaiyesimi is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy at Olabisi Onabanjo University in Nigeria. One of her main research interests is the pharmacology of medicinal plants in the southwest rain forest region of Nigeria. Her work has revealed the importance of plants as a source of important pharmacological agents and underscores the need to protect the rich tropical flora of the rainforest region. She has identified two plants, the seeds of Parkia Biglobossa and the leaf of Spondias mombin, whose extracts may have therapeutic relevance for diabetes.
Huda Omer Basaleem is the Head of the Department of Community Medicine and Public Health and the Director of the Aden Cancer Registry and Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Aden University, Yemen. Her areas of research interest are women, youth and child health, women’s empowerment, public health, nutrition, health system research, bioethics, and cancer control. She is currently a member of a regional research network in the Middle East and North Africa called GRACE, which conducts gender-related research for empowering women in various aspects of life, particularly women's decision-making ability in reproductive health and information, and she investigates communications technologies for development. Basaleem has conducted research on cancer prevalence and prevention in Yemen, and she drafted the National Breast Cancer Control Strategy for Yemen, one of the few strategies of its kind in the region.
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