During her years as a clinician, Boghuma Titanji, MD, MSc, PhD, keynote speaker at the 2015 Advancing Ethical Research Conference (AER15), struggled to deal with cases of preventable, infectious diseases, particularly in children. Many times, the parents could not afford treatment and, as a result, the child died. During her interview for People and Perspectives, she talks about one such instance where a child with severe malaria died in her arms after the parents were unable to afford a blood transfusion. This experience, and others like it, helped Dr. Titanji understand that she wanted to be involved in the infectious disease field. Rather than become desensitized to the problem, she chose to contribute to the solutions.
"Some people get really jaded and completely desensitized, and I wouldn’t judge them because you have to make a decision on how you are going to cope with this. You can choose to be that person who becomes a cynic…or you can choose to be that person who tries to…cause a chain reaction and start changing the way things happen in that setting."
Dr. Titanji oriented her career to combine research and clinical practice because she wanted to have a broader impact. She wanted to be able to stop the overarching problems as opposed to treating the ailments physicians might see on a daily basis.
"I find it more rewarding now to be in a role where I feel that I am beginning to contribute to the solutions…It moves me from that frustrated perspective where I’m just sitting in the clinic watching children come in and die because their parents can’t afford blood transfusions or because they didn’t sleep under a mosquito net and now they have malaria. All of these being treatable, preventable disease conditions."
Watch Dr. Titanji’s full People and Perspectives interview, where she discusses her passion for making a difference in the challenging realm of international research.