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Ogobara Doumbo: committed to improving research and healthcare in Africa

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 17 July 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3125
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. Hamburg, Germany
  1. ns{at}

Born in the Dogon region of Mali, Ogobara Doumbo was raised in a village with no electricity. His first ride in a car came as a teenager in 1971, when he travelled to the town of Bandiagara for his secondary school certification examination. Two years later he was awarded a scholarship to study medicine in Bamako, the capital of Mali.

Doumbo went on to become a specialist in parasitology, earning global recognition for his work on malaria epidemiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. In 1992 he co-founded the Malaria Research and Training Center (MRTC) in Bamako, now a world renowned centre of excellence. Also an expert in mycology, anthropology, and bioethics, he was the author of more than 500 papers and collaborated with leading tropical disease researchers around the world.

Born and based in Mali

Throughout his career, he remained devoted to his native Mali and to the African continent. While many other Africans of high academic and medical research stature accepted lucrative appointments in Europe and North America, Doumbo chose to remain based in Mali. Throughout his career he worked tirelessly to improve the healthcare systems of his country and the continent, and to expand research capacity by mentoring young researchers and supporting their projects.

Credit: Medicines for Malaria Venture

Louis H Miller, head of malaria cell biology at the US National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH-NIAID), told The BMJ: “Repeatedly he was offered jobs in Geneva at the World Health Organization, but turned them down because he wanted to remain in Mali and work against malaria.”

Miller adds: “He was brilliant. He was a great leader who brought together the best team in malaria research in Africa.”

Doumbo’s unexpected death in a hospital in Marseilles, France, was a shock to his friends and colleagues around the world. An official cause of …

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