Manishha Patel: My Transformation From Biologist to Global Citizen-Scientist

Manishha Patel: My Transformation From Biologist to Global Citizen-Scientist

Manishha Patel travels to Kenya with winners of a Novartis Malaria Initiative employee fundraising campaign. All photos by Nadine Schecker for Novartis AG.

Patel meets with volunteer health workers in Kibera. She also meets a little boy named Abraham.

Kibera is a slum in Nairobi. It's the biggest urban slum in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.

A board outside a clinic in Kibera is used to keep track of treatments and health services.

Patel tours the histopathology lab in the health clinic of a Mumias sugar cane company.

Patel is mesmerized by Anopheles mosquitoes — vectors for malaria — feeding on heated bovine blood.

Children in a Kombewa school learn about malaria.

Patel hands out candy to children at the school in Kombewa.

A child in Kombewa walks toward the local village.

tweet me:
How a trip to #malaria -stricken Kenya changed a Novartis scientist’s life #focusonmalaria
Friday, April 24, 2015 - 3:00pm


I’m a cancer biologist at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, and I adore my work. I love trying to figure out kinks in cancer cells that we can manipulate for drug discovery. I love studying and trying to unravel molecular pathways. I love those moments, after many failed theories and inexplicable results, when you say ‘eureka!’ and all the pieces fall into place. And I especially love and feel blessed to work on projects that can have real clinical impact and help patients. Until last month, I thought I would spend my entire career working in research. But I just took a trip to Kenya that changed the way I think about everything. Let me explain.

Last year, Novartis employees were invited to participate in an internal campaign to raise money for malaria. The internal campaign complemented an external “Power of One” fundraising effort by the Novartis Malaria Initiative and the nonprofit Malaria No More. The principle was simple: $1 = 1 life-saving malaria treatment. I decided to get involved because the premise was very clear-cut, and I thought that, through my network, I should be able to generate a lot of support for a global health issue that devastates so many lives.

Read more on the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research NERD blog

About the Novartis Malaria Initiative

The Novartis Malaria Initiative focuses on improving access to treatment, helping communities in malaria-endemic countries deliver better healthcare and investing in research and development into the next generation of antimalarials. Over the past decade, the initiative has become one of the largest access-to-medicine programs in the healthcare industry, measured by the number of patients reached annually. Since 2001, working with a range of organizations, Novartis has provided more than 700 million treatments for adults and children, without profit, to more than 60 malaria-endemic countries, contributing to a significant reduction of the death toll from malaria, mostly infants and children. We are proud of the remarkable public health milestones these collaborations have helped to achieve.