The Tanzanian researcher Flora Stephano has focused her research on Parkinson's disease, using the fruit fly


The Tanzanian researcher Flora Stephano has focused her research on Parkinson's disease, using the fruit fly

Flora Stephano, from Tanzania, is one of the 10 beneficiaries of the 3rd edition of the programme Science by Women, targeting African women senior scientists with at least 3 years of post-doctoral experience

Flora has been researching in Institute of Neurosciences in Alicante, one of the 10 associated centres of the programme, about using Drosophila, commonly known as fruit fly, as model of Parkinson’s disease (PD) in taking advantages of natural compounds extracted from plant materials. In fact, since last decade, Drosophila has become a tractable model for PD. The insect has strong PD related phenotypes, including loss of neurons and reduced locomotion. Markedly, Drosophila has homology among five of six genes associated with PD in humans.

Flora has been enriched and inspired by her research. She says “I was able to develop new ideas which are the base for a grant proposal following a call at my University and I managed to win the call and now, I am going to start a new project in which I am collaborating with Chemistry Department here at University of Dar es Salaam. This project will also involve one Master student and two undergraduate students to whom I will be their supervisor!”

We congratulate Flora on this great achievement and wish her the best for next opportunities. In fact, she has been invited to join the group called DrosoAfrica which applied for International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) Research grant under Collaborative Research Programme. They are still waiting for the final decision.

“My host Prof. Maria Dominguez was very supportive right away from the beginning from the time of application. She helped me in my project and she was providing me new suggestion to improve my project and skills. All the group members were very supportive. The Institute of Neuroscience is well equipped so there was no problem in terms of equipment. The research materials were available and when I needed special reagent or chemical was immediately purchased for me.”

At any moment, she felt very supported by her peers and the whole team of Institute of Neuroscience upon her arrival to Spain, especially by Internationalisation Manager Dr. Julio Barbas, who helped her to settle down smoothly in Alicante.

Flora says that the fellowship actually exceeded her expectations and that she trusts that, as a woman scientist in Africa, she can be an inspiration for other girls to get into STEM.

The program has been launched in 2014 with the aim to empower African women researchers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer and Mathematics) and enable them to play a leading role in the transition of Africa to a knowledge-based and innovation-led economy.


La Fundación Mujeres Por África es una entidad privada sin ánimo de lucro creada en 2012 por María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, ex vicepresidenta del Gobierno de España.

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