Marina Walther-Antonio, Ph.D., is heading the development of a home-based test for human papillomavirus to address high cervical cancer rates linked to widespread sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The team has been at it for three years and they’re getting ready to start phase 1 clinical trials.
Realistically, within a few years, a woman in the DRC could be handed a test kit from a worker in a humanitarian aid mobile unit and shown how to use the kit in the privacy of her home — without having to make an often-dangerous trip to a medical facility. The test strip will indicate whether or not she needs to seek lifesaving medical care.
“I feel if I can help, it’s my responsibility to do so,” she says. “You never know when a problem could go unsolved if you do not help.”
Dr. Walther-Antonio is a current Mayo Clinic KL2 Mentored Career Developement Scholar.