Ismaili Youth Scholar Profile

Azan Virji is a senior at Morse College, Yale University, with plans to graduate this May. Azan is majoring in Molecular Cellular and Development Biology, with a concentration in Global Health. He was recently accepted into the Yale School of Public Health to pursue a master’s degree.

As the recipient of the Eben T. and Jokichi Takamine Memorial Scholarship Fund, for the last three years, Azan was able to get his college degree fully funded. He also works as a research assistant in an Infectious Disease lab researching human babesiosis with Ben Mamoun Choukri. By working an average of 15 hours per week, Azan’s tenacity and drive paid off when he was co-authored on two publications namely: “Radical cure of experimental babesiosis in immunodeficient mice using a combination of an endochin-like quinolone and atovaquone” and “Genome-wide diversity and gene expression profiling of Babesia microti isolates identify polymorphic genes that mediate host-pathogen interactions”. He is currently in the process of working on another publication and writing a chapter for an Infectious Disease textbook! Azan has also been named a Global Health Scholar and Science and Technology Research Scholar for the year 2017.

Last winter break, Azan received the Atlantis Pre-Medical Leadership Fellowship, which paid for him to shadow some of the top doctors at Sotiria Hospital for thoracic surgery in Athens, Greece. While being immersed in the Greek healthcare system, Azan was able to make comparisons with the system found in Tanzania, one that he wishes to improve. The summer before that, Azan interned at Partners in Health, an NGO that provides quality clinical care across the globe. There he met the president of the World Bank and leant about the challenges of providing healthcare in low resource settings.

On campus, Azan has been involved in the Yale Russian Chorus, Yale College Council, Yale Leadership Institute, PIH Engage Yale Chapter, STEM Ambassador for Yale Admissions, International Student Peer Liaison, and Community Health Educators. He is currently enrolled in an Emergency Medical Technician Training Course where upon completion he hopes to get his license to be able to work in an ambulance in the city of New Haven.

After Azan graduates this summer, he will intern for the World Health Organization, working on resistance markers for malaria, and will thereafter continue this research in Uganda. During this time, he will also work to secure sources of funding for his Master’s in Public Health. Azan’s long term goal is to attend medical school and become an infectious disease doctor. He owes all his success to the constant support, mentorship and love that provided by his parents and is grateful for the generosity of the people around him that have allowed him to achieve all that he has so far.

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