Victoire Ndong ’09 Takes on Malaria

Friday, January 30, 2009 - 13:59

Posted: January 30, 2008

What Victoire Ndong ’09 knows about malaria didn’t just come from hours of peering at slides through a microscope. Nor does her knowledge come from a textbook or data collected from lab rats. Malaria is widespread in her home city of Dakar, Senegal, and the disease has afflicted her, her family, and her friends; she even lost a cousin to the illness.

Ndong left home for Mount Holyoke with an interest in medicine, knowing she would one day return and help the people in Senegal. A biology major with a minor in chemistry, she conducted research with the help of former visiting professor of biology Amy Springer, who now teaches at Amherst College.

Classroom research has been essential for Ndong, who found she wanted to continue studying malaria when looking for summer internship opportunities. She set her sights on Johns Hopkins University and was accepted for a paid internship in a lab at the university’s Malaria Research Institute of the Bloomsberg School of Public Health.

There Ndong worked with lab mice to manipulate the genes that play a role in resisting the parasite that causes malaria. She was excited to be able to attend weekly seminars held by the Bloomsberg School, which helped her realize her own enthusiasm for working with patients once she becomes a doctor.

“Medicine isn’t all about going to med school; it’s about helping people,” she said.

Keeping in mind her lessons from Johns Hopkins, Ndong is currently working on a thesis in which she'll examine the effects of a protein involved in pregnancy-associated malaria. She's interested in a medical career in obstetrics, and when she does go back to Senegal, she’ll be ready.

“I learned from being at Mount Holyoke to be really confident in what I do," she said.

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