Tacking Infectious Diseases With Dr. Makadzange




Volume 1, Issue 2

Dr. Tariro Makadzange is a Physician from Zimbabwe. She is also the Director of Biology and Clinical Research at Gilead’s Discovery Virology department. She got her PhD in Immunology from the University of Oxford. Afterwards, she earned her M.D. at Harvard Medical School. She is also an Associate Member of the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. According to Gilead Sciences, “Tariro and her colleagues are focused on understanding T-cell biology and researching potential ways to harness a patient’s immune system to cure or control HIV.” She and colleagues from Ragon Institute established a basic immunology research laboratory at the University of Zimbabwe College of Health Sciences.The research laboratory was set up in accordance with her commitment to capacity-building for science research in the continent of Africa and to be an inspiration for young Africans to be interested in finding solutions to medical problems that prevail in Africa. Here, Kazembe spoke to Dr.Makadzange about aspects of her undergraduate years and career advice for young students in College. 

Kazembe: Why did you choose to study biochemistry and physics during your undergraduate years in College?

Makadzange: I wanted to be a doctor, and also wanted to be an engineer. Most importantly I had outstanding mentors in both. Physics was taught by an incredible husband and wife pair, and they made quantum mechanics exciting and interesting. 

Kazembe: What sparked your interest in conducting HIV related research within the medical field?

Makadzange: I had an incredible thesis mentor as an undergraduate student. Sam Black at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He had spent a large part of his career working at KEMRI in Kenya, doing outstanding parasite research. I worked on African trypanosomiasis in his lab, but his energy, love of science, his inquiry and thoughtful mind were just infectious. I knew in addition to doing medicine, I wanted to be engaged in research and have the same level of excitement at inquiry, data, and science.

Gilead Sciences

Kazembe:Is there any particular achievement that you are most proud of?

Makadzange: I think working with Dr Ndhlovu on setting up with Parirenyatwa Hospital OI clinic. The clinic itself is not fancy and it is imperfect, but it was incredibly rewarding in the early days to see the difference that provision of ARVs made. 

Kazembe:What do you enjoy doing during your free time?

Makadzange: I enjoy running and being outside in nature. Being thankful for the incredible planet that we live on. I also enjoy cooking, and spending time with friends and family. 

Kazembe: What advice would you give to college students who are interested in advancing into the medical field post-graduation?

Makadzange: Do it for the right reasons and explore the options. There are so many different ways to make a meaningful contribution to society. You could do clinical medicine and take care of patients. As we look at this pandemic we are all in awe of the incredible people who are taking care of patients. It is a privilege to be able to care of patients. However there are others who play key roles from the medicinal chemists who design drugs, the molecular biologists, virologists, immunologists who are designing vaccines and other therapeutics, the public health specialists who are planning and working to protect the community, the data scientists who are tracking data and guiding policy, to the policy makers. So there are multiple careers that can have an impact on medicine and human well being.