Female Scientists Who Are Defeating Diarrhea Get Their “Doo”

Mar 05, 2020


Dr. Anita Zaidi of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a vaccine superhero and an award-winning poo-et! 


March 8 is International Women’s Day, and a chance to celebrate women around the globe for their roles as leaders, teachers, mothers, daughters, sisters, and so much more. At DefeatDD, of course we’re particularly excited to wave the flag for female health researchers and scientists focused on identification, prevention, and treatment of diarrhea. Here are a few women who have been instrumental in defeating this deadly childhood disease. We’re glad to see them get their “doo.”  


Dr. Ruth Bishop discovered rotavirus, the deadliest form of diarrheal disease among children. A vigorous virologist with a deep desire to defeat diarrhea, in 1973, while studying biopsies from children with gastroenteritis, Bishop peered into a microscope and saw a virus that was shaped like a wheel, giving rotavirus its name. Ruth Bishop’s heroic feats have inspired countless others female rotavirus superheroes to continue the fight. Read more about Ruth’s legacy.


Dr. Firdausi Qadri, head of the Mucosal Immunology and Vaccinology unit of International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease and Research (icddr,b), in February 2020 was selected as the best scientist in Asia-Pacific region during the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. She was awarded the L’oreal- UNESCO For Women in Science award for her contribution to understanding and preventing infectious diseases affecting children in developing countries and promoting early diagnosis and vaccination with global health impact. Here’s what Dr. Qadri had to share with us during a recent conversation.


Dr. Rubhana Raqib is a senior scientist based at the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Control in Balngladesh (icddr,b), who works on clinical trials testing new vaccines against diarrhea. Watch as she talks about the potential of vaccines against ETEC and Shigella in this video.


Dr. Gagandeep Kang, who lives and works in India at Christian Medical College, has worked on diarrheal diseases and public health since the early 1990s. As a child, she practiced science as a hobby, building a lab with her father at home when she was 12 and experimenting by cutting up leaves then observing them through a microscope. We talked to her about her work, her heroes, and why she was excited by a green stool in this conversation.   


Dr. Anita Zaidi, the director of the Vaccine Development, Surveillance and Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases programs at the Bill & Melinda Gates Program, is a Pakistani powerhouse and a champion for child health. In addition to being a scientist and advocate, she’s also an award-winning “poo-et,” having penned a top #poohaiku for DefeatDD’s annual contest.