Maureen Njoki Mburu
Institute of Primate Research, Nairobi, Kenya
Maureen Njoki Mburu, BSc Biomedical Technology
Assistant Research Scientist, Institute of Primate Research, Nairobi, Kenya
I have for a long time been under the spell of science. Ever since I was a little girl visiting the doctor, I was always in awe of this person who could tell me what was wrong with my body and make it better. As I grew up I came to learn that the doctor was never alone in his/her diagnosis, there was a team of other dedicated people behind that calm facade. This group was not only responsible for many of the drugs and methods that were being used by the doctor but also for creating new ways of looking at life. They were biomedical researchers. I was hooked onto the idea that life could be studied and described by man and the knowledge applied to me and my ailments.
It was in the University of Nairobi where my interest in the health sciences was nurtured. I was so passionate (and still am) that I read practically any book on the life sciences that I could find in the library. I also went for internship at the M.P. Shah Hospital, where I was introduced to the practical aspect of histopathology, microbiology and biochemistry. This internship strengthened my conviction about the power of the research worker. It was also then that I came to the realization that the body of knowledge on the life sciences is very wide.
I have had an interest in the reproductive health aspect of the life sciences. This interest has in the course of my professional life led me to attend short trainings, seminars and conferences on matters of reproductive health and especially HIV/AIDS.
I applied for the From Research to Practice Training Course in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research 2010 course so as to learn how to apply my research work practically. I hope to acquire the skills and knowledge to describe reproductive health issues to the community. I believe that this knowledge and skills will stand me in good stead in my current research programme, UniPron, which is a contraceptive gel and is being researched as a microbicide too. In our research programme, UniPron, we are aiming to produce a contraceptive gel with dual purpose as a microbicide which will be used by the woman to prevent HIV infection from an infected partner. This work will not only aid me in my career progression, but also enable to play my part in the fight against this disease that affects so many african communities. I wish to be among the team that performs this groundbreaking work in my country, an opportunity that this programme will undoubtedly avail unto me.
This kind of training will eventually benefit the Institute, in meeting our objectives of developing a non-human primate model for SHIV (chimeric of HIV and SIV) which will aid in HIV research. My training will also benefit the fight against reproductive health diseases, specifically HIV, by contributing to the understanding of the virus interactions with the host. This will in the long run benefit, not only my country, Kenya, but also the Greater African region.