Dr. Nampota, the 2021 Rising Star recipient, in the clinic in Malawi

Strike while the iron is hot

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The Sabin Vaccine Institute’s 2021 Rising Star recipient, Dr. Nginache Nampota says, “strike while the iron is hot—the world is listening—now is the time to advocate for all vaccines.” Dr. Nampota, a research physician and vaccine advocate in Malawi, is truly a katswiri wachisodzera (rising star). She is a research physician, clinical research site leader, and vaccine advocate at the Blantyre Malaria Project (BMP), a center of excellence in infectious disease research in Blantyre, Malawi.

From a young age, Dr. Nampota was drawn to the medical profession and thought it was “cool” that doctors could save lives. She stumbled into the field of vaccinology and fell in love—what better way to save lives than to prevent disease completely? The best part of Dr. Nampota’s job is that her clinic in Ndirande, Malawi, can have a much larger—even global!—public health impact. Vaccinating a single child in Ndirande will not only protect the child, but also their family and community.

While Dr. Nampota picks up her fair share of illnesses from her patients—a job hazard—she is reminded why it is so important to prevent infectious diseases in the first place. Averting illness is key and something that motivates Dr. Nampota to go the extra mile. She looks forward to a world where no one suffers needlessly from preventable diseases. COVID-19 has created pain and loss all over the world, yet Dr. Nampota sees the silver lining—the brightest minds have joined together to come up with solutions, and vaccines are at the top of the list. Now more than ever vaccinology is important for individual health and broad social well-being.

In 2020, the Sabin Vaccine Institute selected the inaugural Rising Star recipient. The award honors an early-career professional who demonstrates a commitment to the field of immunization and makes vaccines more accessible, enables innovation, and expands global immunization. Dr. Nampota is collaborative, innovative, and driven by a strong desire to improve public health in resource-limited settings, especially her home country of Malawi. Even in the early stage of her career, Dr. Nampota has demonstrated a keen ability to employ creative solutions to the endless , and often unexpected, challenges that inevitably surface in research settings.

As Dr. Nampota launches into the next stage of her career, she will continue to shoot for the stars. We look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Nampota as she becomes a key opinion leader in vaccinology. Remember this rising star as she shines her light on, takes part in, advocates for, and leads new vaccine discovery and development initiatives with the brightest of goals, to save lives.