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Augustine Ajuogu

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Published on Apr 5, 2017

In 2007, Ajuogu and his family moved to the U.S.; they were refugees. He knew he wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but wasn’t sure how to go about it. His mother was a migrant worker, supporting seven children and sending money to Nigeria to care for relatives back home; there wasn’t much money for higher education.

Still, that didn’t discourage Ajuogu. In high school, he worked on creating a malaria vaccine at a STEM immersion program for underserved students. His postgraduate studies in biophysics and integrated immunology honed his interest in creating affordable vaccines for developing countries.

It’s an issue that everyone should care about, and Ajuogu uses the metaphor of the global village. “The world is highly connected,” he says. “Diseases like Ebola or Zika can spread swiftly, so global health is everyone’s concern.”

Ajuogu now considers Washington his home, and he plans to stay in the Northwest – a hub of global health and infectious disease research – to continue his work. He also anticipates that his career will include traveling, working directly with patients around the world. “It’s important to be with the people who need help the most,” he says.

He hopes that, some day, TB and malaria will be a note in the medical history books – illnesses defeated, even eradicated, by modern medicine.

“Once you have a vaccine, it becomes cheap, it becomes accessible,” says Ajuogo. “We need meaningful interventions that save lives.”

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