Mentoring women in research

March - April, 2009 | Volume 8, Issue 2

Photo: Dr. Diane Wallace Taylor and Dr. Rose Leke walk together
Dr. Rose Leke, left, and Dr. Diane
Wallace Taylor
greet guests at their
joint International Women's Day lecture
on the impact of malaria on pregnant
women and babies.

Some of the world's top malaria experts gathered at Fogarty recently to hear the latest research by two women scientists trying to prevent the disease among pregnant women in Cameroon.

"It's the dream of everyone to find a vaccine for newborns," said Dr. Diane Wallace Taylor of Georgetown University and the University of Hawaii, who appeared with her longtime colleague Dr. Rose Leke of the University of Yaoundé.

They spoke in celebration of International Women’s Day and, beyond their expertise in malaria, both honored the idea of women mentoring women. Taylor is a grantee of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and previously held a Fogarty grant that resulted in about a dozen malaria experts returning to Cameroon after training at Georgetown University. NIAID organized the event.

"We should all be very thankful to the Fogarty International Center for their training programs," Taylor said. "International Women's Day is about being role models. It's about being mentors for women and the way we can begin to equalize women's role in education and training."

Leke said her country's having a ministry of women's empowerment made a big difference for women in the professions. "We now have models. We didn't find women before in certain positions but now we're finding them as role models for others," she said.

Leke had participated in a parade of 25,000 women a week earlier in Cameroon, where she is head of the University of Yaoundé biotechnology center.

"There's an incredible interest and surge of young women going into careers in global health," said Fogarty Deputy Director Dr. Michael Johnson. He noted that nearly two-thirds of the pre-doctoral students who have gone abroad for research training under Fogarty's Scholars program are women.

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