The Leke project: A journey to the Isala sister project in Cameroon

The core mission of the Isala project is to spread awareness on how the vaginal microbiome is key to women’s health. Beneficial microorganisms present in the vagina, depending on their type, contribute to the prevention of certain diseases. However, data on  the specific types and taxa of vaginal bacteria that are protective and how lifestyle and other factors can promote their occurrence, is still scarce in many parts of the world. This limited availability of data is a severe hindrance for the optimal design of strategies for prevention of undesired vaginal conditions. In addition, discussing vaginal health is still taboo in many places across the world, including Cameroon, my home country. For these reasons, we are addressing some of the gaps in women’s health research by establishing the Leke project, as Isala sisterhood citizen-science project in Cameroon, Central Africa.

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Meet Fatima: our brand-new sister project to study vaginal health and HPV in Morocco

The Isala project is currently expanding worldwide, resulting in an international sisterhood of Isala-inspired citizen-science projects. The upcoming adventure will start in a North-African country, Morocco. As one of the project coordinators, I am delighted to write about this brand-new Isala sister! We chose to name it the Fatima project, inspired by Fatima Al-Fihriya. She was the first female founder of a university in Morocco. The Fatima project intends to provide the Moroccan society with evidence-based information on vaginal health and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, more specifically tailored towards women living in rural areas. Get to know more in this blog!

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Nerdland Festival: all nerds reunited!

On the last Saturday of May, during the Pentecost weekend, our lab, including the Isala team, was represented at the Nerdland Festival. Nerdland is an awesome science festival at ‘Domein Puyenbroeck’ in Wachtebeke (East-Flanders). Of course, we were more than happy to be there. 😊 In fact, it is the largest outdoor science festival in Belgium, spread over three days! More than 20,000 visitors, large and small(er), were welcomed to get a taste of the nicest and coolest things science has to offer (and yes, that’s a lot!). Over 200 shows, talks and demos were organized, thereby completely transforming ‘Domein Puyenbroeck’ into a real science paradise with a lot of experiments and topics such as space travel, hacking, robots, dinosaurs, insects, virtual reality and so much more!

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Scoop: Isala receives the very first grand EU citizen science prize  

Woohoo, Isala won a big prize! What an honor! Today the Isala team officially receives the ‘European Union Prize for Citizen Science’. No worries if you have never heard about it before. It is a brand-new prize awarded by the European Commission for the first time this year. The fact that Isala is the first to receive it makes it even more unique! Read on to discover why Isala was awarded this prize and what it entails. 😊 

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Give endometriosis a face

You might have come across this statement in March. Endometriosis is a disease that affects 1 in 10 people, however it remains relatively unknown up to date. This is exactly what we, Vera Esmeralda Frederickx and Valerie Clinkemalie, are trying to change through our non-profit organisation Behind Endo (Stories)! Both of us are endometriosis patients who were diagnosed four years ago. Since we experienced first-hand how little knowledge exists about endometriosis, we decided to officially establish our organisation in 2021, which provides us with greater involvement in engaging with policymakers.

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