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EBF scholar Samiksha Ghimire

Nepalese-born Samiksha Ghimire was close to exhaustion when she heard that she had been awarded a grant by the Eric Bleumink Fund. By that time, the PhD student of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology had been combining her Master’s programme with a cleaning job for a whole year. ‘I was working every morning from 4 to 8 a.m. and then going to lectures until 5 p.m. I’d reached the end of my tether.’

Samiksha Ghimire
Samiksha Ghimire

Samiksha Ghimire is conducting research into tuberculosis, a disease that is still very common in Nepal. Her friends and acquaintances didn’t really understand her decision. ‘People in Nepal ask me why I’m not researching a disease that would earn me lots of money or prestige, like cancer. But when I see how many victims tuberculosis claims in poor countries and how little attention it has been given in recent years, I know why I’m doing it. It’s a sorry state of affairs when countries with a low incidence of the disease have the best equipment and drugs to deal with it, while poorer countries have to go without.’ In addition, antibiotics are available over the counter in Nepal. ‘People buy antibiotics as if they were sweets, so bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant. I’m helping to develop a simple, cheap way of monitoring whether patients are getting the right dose of their medicines. We can see whether drugs are working and whether the dose needs adjusting using simple technology and bit of saliva.’

Before embarking on this PhD project, Ghimire spent a year following a Master’s programme in Groningen, which she funded herself. ‘During my studies, I noticed that students from Western countries have a different attitude to academic research. They are more critical, keener to find solutions. I wanted to learn this too, which is why I was determined to go abroad.’ She applied to various universities and was accepted at Groningen. ‘I didn’t have a grant so my mother sold a piece of land which she’d been keeping for her pension. That’s how important she thought my education was. The sale of her land was enough for my tuition fees, but I had to work to support myself.’ Thanks to recommendations from her supervisor Jan-Willem Alffenaar and Professor Geny Groothuis, she was awarded a grant by the Eric Bleumink Fund for the second year of her Master’s programme and the entire PhD track. This grant and funding from the Ommerlander Hospital Groningen Foundation (Stichting OZG) will enable her to complete her PhD.

After obtaining a PhD, Ghimire intends to return to Nepal as a researcher to help the government in its efforts to tackle tuberculosis. She also wants to teach the university students to adopt a different attitude to academic research. ‘More critical and creative, with more focus on finding solutions – the things I’m learning in Groningen. This is what’s needed to take academic research in Nepal to the next level.’

“What happens with my donations? our donors understandably wonder. Let me answer that question with a concrete example; the story of Samiksha Ghimire from Nepal. With a grant from the Eric Bleumink Fund, she conducts her doctoral research on the treatment of Tuberculosis in the poorest countries in the world. Were you under the assumption that Tuberculosis did not exist anymore? Think again. There are two billion carriers of this disease and 10% of them get sick. Most patients live in areas where treatment is insufficient or impossible, like the countryside in Nepal. Thanks to your donations, Samiksha will be able to make a difference.” Gerbrand Visser, director Ubbo Emmius Fund

Support talented students from developing countries. More information on www.rugsteunt.nl.

Contact: bleuminkfonds@rug.nl

Text: Marjan Brouwers
Photo: Reyer Boxem
Source: Broerstraat 5, december 2016

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.15 p.m.
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