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CNIO News, Year 2015

African women scientists do research in Spain

Madrid, 15 October, 2015

Nine senior African women researchers will be deepening and sharing knowledge in prestigious Spanish institutions through Women for Africa’s project "Science by Women"

Thirty entries from all over Africa applied for the selection process


In the coming days, the African women scientists selected in MxA’s project "Science by Women" will begin to arrive in Spain. The initiative aims to promote and support the work being carried out by women in Africa in significant areas such as energy, climate change, healthcare, agriculture and food safety and security.

A total of nine women scientists from eight countries will benefit from the research programmes lasting six months to be carried out in the five Spanish centres of excellence that are collaborating in this project by the Women for Africa Foundation (MxAor Mujeres por África). These are the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), the Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIIII), the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB), the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) and the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (ICMAT).

This programme of research stays is one of the main lines of activity included in the "Science by Women" project, which began last year with the First Conference on Science and Technology.

In the selection process, for which thirty candidates’ entries were submitted, the centres collaborating in this project took part as well as the "Science by Women" Scientific Committee, comprising eminent personalities from the Spanish and international scientific communities.

The target beneficiaries will continue to work in their respective investigations for six months, thereby bringing expertise to the centres that will be hosting them at the same time as they acquire new knowledge that they will later take with them to their original environments.

The nine researchers who are to benefit from the research stays in our country are:

Aster Tsegaye Abebe, an Ethiopian national.She is an associate Professor in the Department of Immunology at the University of Addis Ababa, with a Master’s in Zoology from the University of Addis Ababa and a PhD in Immunology from the University of Amsterdam. She is also a researcher with a solid education in Africa and Europe, and is also Vice-President of the newly formed Society of Ethiopian Women in Science and Technology (SEWIST).

Dr. Tsegaye’s host will be the Institute of Health Carlos III, where she will investigate the clinical and viro-immunological characteristics of children born to mothers with HIV and their magnitude in order to draw up strategies and therapies to reduce transmission of the virus from mother to child.

Nahla Ali is Sudanese. She has a Master’s in Molecular Parasitology from the University of Glasgow and Khartoum and a PhD in Tropical Diseases from the same universities. Dr. Ali is the author of numerous publications. At the Institute of Health Carlos III, she will be investigating diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and their role in transmitting arboviruses. She has contributed in an innovative way to the planning of curricula for the Masters’ degrees in Zoology and Molecular Parasitology, and is an active member of the "Sudanese Women in Science" association.

Chantal Ebel, a Tunisian national, is an Associate Professor at the SFAX Higher Institute of Biotechnology. She received her doctorate from the University of Strasbourg and continued her post-doctoral studies and research in Switzerland. She currently combines her academic work with research into a specific gene of wheat. This project, which Dr. Ebel will be carrying out at the National Centre for Biotechnology, could have a major socio-economic impact for future agricultural policies in semi-arid countries such as Tunisia.

Jelan Mofeed El-Sayed, from Egypt, is an associate professor of Environmental Pollution in the Faculty of Fish Resources at the University of Suez. With a Master’s and a PhD in Microbiology and Phycology from Mansura University, Dr. Mofeed will carry out a project at the National Centre for Biotechnology on identifying algae and their genetic modification in order to act against pollution and to increase productivity in aquaculture and energy.

The South African Nosipho Moloto is a professor and senior researcher at the University of Witwatersrand. With a Master’s cum Laude from the University of Zululand and a PhD from the University of Witwatersrand, she has won several awards and research stays at prestigious international universities like the MIT in Boston and the University of Manchester.

The project that Dr. Moloto will be carrying out at the Institute of Photonic Sciences concerns the synthesis and classification of solar cells with different architectures that can be manufactured from materials synthesized in the laboratory.

Mangaka Matoetoe, a national of Lesotho, is an Associate Professor of Chemistry in the Faculty  of Applied Technology  at the  Cape  Peninsula University and head of the electrochemistry research group. With a Master’s from the University of Cape Town and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Pretoria, she will be implementing a project at the Institute of Photonic Sciences on nano-sensors capable of testing the efficacy of drugs as well as water quality.

Coumba Niang, who is Senegalese, is a scientist at the Laboratory of Physics of the Atmosphere and Ocean Simeon-Fongang (LPAO-SF) of the Higher Polytechnic College of the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. She has a Master’s in Meteorology, Oceanography and Management of Arid Areas from the Polytechnic College, and a doctorate via a joint programme by the Federal University of Technology Akure in Nigeria and the Cheik Anta Diop University of Dakar.

The research that Dr. Niang will be doing at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences is aimed at deepening the knowledge about West African monsoons and their impact on a global scale.

Dorcas Osei-Safo, from Ghana, is a head professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Ghana in Legón. She has a Master’s and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Ghana and specializes in Spectroscopic Methods. Dr. Osei-Safo will be doing research at the National Cancer Research Centre on the extraction, isolation and classification of bioactive compounds from medicinal plants to prevent and treat cancer, malaria, tuberculosis and other rare tropical diseases.

Ann Louw from South Africa is a head professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Stellenbosch. She got her Master’s cum Laude and PhD in biochemistry from the same University and has conducted research at Ghent University (Belgium).

At the National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Dr. Louw will be carrying out her research project focusing on the phyto-estrogenic compounds of Cyclopia (Honeybush), a plant native to South Africa with huge potential for preventing and treating breast cancer.

More information on the selected female African scientists.

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