Apr 252015

images-5The Virus Hunter

Anne Rimoin, 39, founder of Congo BioMed, a nonprofit that promotes biomedical research in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and assistant professor of epidemiology at UCLA.  She chose the Congo because it’s a hotbed of emerging diseases — Ebola was born here, along with some of the first cases of HIV.  Anne studies emerging diseases that move from animals to humans; monkeypox is an example.  She conducts surveillance of people in the jungle who are eating animals that might carry the money pox virus such as squirrels, monkeys or rodents.   Studying diseases that cross species – animals to humans, for example, can help in preventing a pandemic.  Monkey-pox, a cousin of smallpox, with similar symptoms could end up being used by bio-terrorists.

The Peace Corp

Anne joined the Peace Corps in West Africa, where I helped tackle Guinea worm disease. People were getting infected through drinking water; they’d unwittingly gulp some larvae, then later would get blisters on their skin that would hatch worms. Yes, worms could come out of their faces, legs, feet. I learned how you could make a huge impact on health with a simple intervention — in this case, just having people filter their water by pouring it through a cloth. It was a perfect introduction to public health; I decided to go on to get a master’s and then a Ph.D.

I came to work on a malaria study in 2002, but when I started looking into monkeypox, I realized it was a real problem. Yet no one was talking about it; everyone thought it would go away. In 2004, I received a supplemental grant from the National Institutes of Health to study it. A few years later, I started a nonprofit to promote biomedical research, training, and sustainable health programs

The Dangers Involved in the Job

Anne has caught malaria and there are other diseases that she could catch.  Then, there is the satisfaction of being on the forefront of helping the people of the Congo and stopping pandemics that affect you and me.   paula.

If you wish to contribute money or your personal time, you can contact Anne at:


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