Tunisian Women in Tech of The Year 2022 > Prof. Ikram GUIZANI

Pr. Ikram Guizani, molecular biologist, is a staff member of the Institut
Pasteur de Tunis since 1989 when she returned back from France after her
PhD studies. Currently, she is the head of the Molecular Epidemiology & Experimental Pathology research laboratory.

The IPT as a leading institution presented a sustainable platform for Ikram to work and learn with
international and national experts to advance the efforts on management of leishmaniases with new
advances and innovations in science. The eminent position of the IPT did not only foster convening
and hosting international experts, but it has also fostered her achievement and position of leadership
in the field of neglected or emerging diseases that constitute a scourge in Africa and other parts of the
world, like Leishmaniases, HPV infections, and Covid19. Currently, her focus is to apply genomics and
artificial intelligence to the development and validation of biomarkers, diagnostics and therapeutical
molecules for better control of these diseases. Through her career as a researcher in Tunisia, Ikram
has supervised more than 30 Master and PhD students, and postdoctoral fellows. She has published
more than 70 peer reviewed scientific articles or book chapters (see a complete list of published work
here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1rsGzx0t6rwA-/bibliography/public/). She has received in
2009 the prize of the president of the republic of Tunisia as Best woman researcher for her
contribution to Leishmaniases research.

Ikram has also demonstrated sustained commitment to South- South collaboration, especially with
African researchers. She has successfully coordinated international networks, notably as coordinator
for Africa of the South-South Initiative for Tropical Diseases Research (2000-2009). She has also led
collaborative projects involving African countries such as Algeria (1996-1998; 2016-2019)), Sudan
(2003-2006), Morocco and Mali (2017-2022). She has also conducted different institutional missions
in relation to the training activities of the IPT and the establishment of a training center at the IPT
including with the support of the African Development Bank (2006-2009). She was subsequently in
charge of collaborating with the JICA to establish and implement triangular cooperation programs to
train African health researchers (2009-2014). She is currently member of the secretariat of the
steering committee of the TDR supported Regional Training Center for the East Mediterranean
Region (2015- now).

Current activities of Ikram Guizani of relevance to RECONNECTT include finalization of ongoing
projects aiming at the development of a Leishmania detection and identification POC diagnostic test,
through multiplexed isothermal DNA amplification coupled to detection by a lateral flow
chromatography on a DNA bioarray (USAID-NAS PEER 518 project with Lebanon, Morocco and Mali
as MENA partners) and AI based algorithms for skin diseases image analysis as diagnostic aid (in
collaboration with clinicians in Tunisia and AI4HD, a startup). She recently joined a WHO network on
use of AI for neglected skin diseases control. To foster use of advanced technologies (including
genomics, AI) and knowledge and use of evidence towards leishmaniases control and elimination in
the continent, she is establishing a consortium (The African Leishmaniases Consortium, ALC) on
leishmaniases research and training (the African Leishmaniases Consortium) that involves 7
countries/Institutions in North (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia), West (Mali, Nigeria) and East Africa
(Sudan, Ethiopia) that were already connected to the IPT through previous networks and projects
including with past JICA’s support. The consortium will focus on parasite and vector research, along
the priority lines defined by the WHO-NTD 2030 roadmap; it will foster career development of PhD,
Post-doctoral and early career fellows.

She is also hosting in the laboratory an Africa Research Implementation Sciences and Education
(ARISE) Network (BIND: Bioinformatics and artificial Intelligence for infectious & Neglected Diseases
Drug Discovery Platform) to develop methods and drugs against Leishmaniases, Malaria and Covid
19 that involves University of Ibadan Research Foundation, our Nigerian partner in a past JICA
program and in ALC. The project allows establishment of a research group led by an early career
scientist, Dr. Emna Harigua.

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