Rwandan doctor wins top doctoral student award – KT PRESS


Dr Annette Uwineza, postgraduate researcher, expert in human genetics and lecturer at the University of Rwanda (UR) has been recognized as a scientist among 16 fellows who have carried out outstanding research in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Annette Uwineza (L)

The prize is an initiative of the L’Oréal Foundation in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Rwanda Ministry of Education.

The jury composed of members of these partners declared that the laureates are “outstanding” postdoctoral women scientists in sub-Saharan Africa.

Uwineza, director of related services at Kigali University Hospital (CHUK), conducted research on “Computer-assisted analysis of clinical characteristics of Rwandan patients with rare genomic neurodevelopmental disorders”.

Genomic Neurodevelopmental Disorders or TND are a group of early-onset neurological disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Intellectual Disability (ID), Language Impairment, among others.

ASD is characterized by early dysfunction of social interactions, communication deficits, and the presence of repetitive and restricted behaviors.

“My dream is that one day science will allow the development of low-cost treatments based on gene therapy,” said Dr Uwineza.

“From my childhood, I knew I would become a doctor. The dream has come true, but thanks to hard work. I encountered several difficulties. However, I managed to be tough enough and achieved what I was aiming for. Achieving the dream is building your own life and your own goals, ”said Dr Uwineza.

According to the Ministry of Education, among thirteen (13) Rwandan scientists who applied for postdoctoral and doctoral fellowships in sub-Saharan Africa, only Dr Uwineza was selected and awarded.

In other countries, the prize has been awarded to Dr Anderson Motswedi from Botswana, Dr Lenye Dlamini from Swaziland (Eswatini), Dr Theresa Muzarire from Zimbabwe, Dr Hendrina Shipanga from Namibia, Dr Jack Sorrel Bouanga Boudiombo, Gabon, to Dr Vinie Koumou from Cameroon, Dr Sephora Mianda Mutombo from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Dr Ruth Nana Nyantang from Cameroon and Dr Bini Sharmeen Jugreet from Mauritius.

The others are Agil Katumanyane from Uganda, Dr Mary Murithi, Dr Hyam Omar Abbassi Ali from Sudan, Dr Menonli Adjobimey from Benin, Dr Coker Motunrayo from Nigeria, Dr Esther Laurelle M. Deguenon, Dr Abena Wiredu Bremang from Ghana, Dr Sandra Jusu from Sierra Leone and Dr Ndeye Maty Ndiaye from Senegal.

They were selected from among 440 other science students pursuing doctoral and postgraduate studies by the Jury of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Young Talent Awards For Women and Science in Sub-Saharan Africa 2021, chaired by Aggrey Ambali, director of the technical cooperation and program funding. at the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).

L’Oréal affirms that these women scientists share an exemplary determination that the obstacles they encounter cannot affect. Some of these difficulties are inherent in the world of scientific research in sub-Saharan Africa.

“During the pandemic, women scientists were in the foreground, but they were not recognized, they had no visibility compared to male scientists. In many cases, their efforts go unrecognized, ”said Alexandra Palt, Executive Vice President of the L’Oréal Foundation.

“The world needs science and science needs women,” she added.

The winners come from disciplines such as chemistry, virology, biology, neurology and nuclear physics.

They make an important contribution to improving the living conditions of millions of people across Africa and the world, according to UNESCO.

“Today the world needs science more than before, better and more. There is a great need for smarter development, but everything needs a great investment in science for better capacity, ”said Professor Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO Regional Director for Africa. ‘East.

Since 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program has worked to enable more women scientists to overcome obstacles to progress and participate in solving major challenges.

It has supported more than 3,900 women researchers from 110 countries, rewarding scientific excellence and inspiring younger generations of women to pursue scientific careers.

Creation of a similar event to recognize local women scientists

At the event held to Appreciate and Recognize Women Scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa, Rwanda pledged to establish a similar annual event, but for local scientists.

According to the Ministry of Education, the event will aim to motivate, recognize and appreciate the country’s women scientists.

“It is not easy to combine the scientific profession with being a mother, but women scientists have succeeded in this difficult task. There should be no voice telling our young women that science is difficult and only for men. Women can and we already have models, it is from experience; I am also a scientist, ”said Dr Valentine Uwamariya, Minister of Education.

Rwandan Minister of Education, Dr Valentine Uwamariya (L)

“Society sees women as fragile, and they are actively discouraged. Women are not fragile. There must be a balance between family and work. The stereotype that women cannot do science is wrong and should be discouraged. These misperceptions should not be a barrier for young girls.

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