While volunteering with the American Red Cross a few years ago, Maha Alzubaidi witnessed doctors performing surgery on a woman who suffered from diabetes – without the use of anesthesia. She was later falsely diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This prompted Maha to read about autoimmune diseases, where the body attacks and damages its own tissues, and how they are treated, strengthening her desire to find a cure. “Most autoimmune diseases don’t have a cure, so that’s what inspires me,” she said.
At Bowie State, Maha has already started her journey to finding medical cures. She worked as part of a student team that designed a potential drug by changing the structure of an existing antibiotic called Scindofloxacin. Led by Associate Professor Alan Anderson, her team won first place in the BSU Annual Grants Expo and Research Day undergraduate poster competition in April 2015.
As a woman in science, Maha felt a personal connection to the topic and wanted to highlight the often overlooked contributions of minority women. “Since my major is science, I like to read about the women that achieved something great. I like to make people aware of what other women have done,” she said. “Mary M. Daly is the woman scientist that inspired me most. She was the first African American woman to get a Ph.D. in chemistry despite the difficulties that she had been through.”
To continue her quest for a cure for diabetes and other diseases, Maha wants to become a physician and scientist. She plans to attend medical school to earn an M.D. and Ph.D. in immunology.