Nadège Nziza finalist in "Ma thèse en 180 secondes" (My thesis in 180 seconds)

A Montpellier native by adoption, Nadège Nziza is a doctoral student at UM in pathophysiology. Meet a young woman as passionate as she is exciting, a national finalist in " Ma thèse en 180 secondes " 2018.

" The objective of my thesis is as simple as a game of Cluedo: I have to find out which cell destroys which joint with which weapon," explains Nadège NZIZA in a playful tone. Comparing her very serious thesis on juvenile arthritis to a board game was a daring move. An audacity that won over the national jury of " Ma thèse en 180 secondes " 2018 - meeting on April 6 in Paris for the semi-final - and earned this bubbly young woman a place in the final of the prestigious oral thesis presentation tournament on Wednesday June 13. A tournament open to PhD students from 20 French-speaking countries.

From Lulumbashi (DRC) to Montpellier doctoral school

" I've been intrigued by the workings of the human body from an early age. This is precisely what led me first to study animal biology, then molecular and cellular biochemistry ", explains Nadège NZIZA. Born in Lulumbashi, Congo, the Rwandan-born Nadège NZIZA arrived in Namur, Europe, in 2009 to pursue her studies. " The culture shock was immense. I'd lost all my bearings by then! " recalls the now 26-year-old with emotion. After obtaining a bachelor's degree and then a master's degree with honors, Nadège NZIZA landed in Montpellier as an intern under the supervision of Edouard Tuaillon, lecturer at the University of Montpellier. "Those three months working on the hepatitis C virus enabled me to live out my passion for immunology to the full" , explains Nadège, who flew off to Kigali (Rwanda) for the following summer's vacations, to carry out a practical internship in the field at a research center. For two months, the young woman put her heart and soul into improving the diagnosis of hepatitis B and C and - above all - malaria, the leading cause of death in her native country. "It was at this precise moment that I realized my need to work as close as possible to patients and my attraction for clinical work, a far cry from fundamental research ", explains Nadège NZIZA who, in the wake of this experience, enrolled at the UMdoctoral school.

Juvenile arthritis

Two years later, Nadège is completing her research project on juvenile arthritis, an autoimmune disease causing growth retardation and malformations, withinUnit 1183-INSERM (Stem Cells, Cell Plasticity, Regenerative Medicine and Immunotherapies). " My aim today is to improve diagnostic techniques for joint inflammation in young patients. In the future, this will enable me to offer them the most appropriate treatment for their condition ", she explains.

Nadège NZIZA already has her sights set on the future: one or two years as a "post-doc" in the United States or, why not, Canada, before returning home for good to work, once again, on immunology: " Rwanda has all the infrastructure needed to carry out clinical trials and develop large-scale research projects. All that's missing is cutting-edge equipment and specialized researchers and practitioners" , explains the young woman who, through the development of Franco-Rwandan research programs, is already dreaming of eradicating malaria in the not-too-distant future. A disease which requires considerable treatment and whose spread in Rwanda still seems out of control, not least because of local climatic conditions.

My thesis in 180 seconds (MT180)

Organized each year by the CNRS in partnership with university presidents, "Ma thèse en 180 secondes " is an opportunity for doctoral students to present their research topic, in French and in simple terms, to a lay and diverse audience. In three minutes, each doctoral student has to give a clear, concise yet convincing presentation of his or her research project. With just one slide! The competition is inspired by the Three minute thesis (3MT®), developed at the University of Queensland in Australia. The concept was taken up in Quebec in 2012 by the Association francophone pour le savoir (Acfas), which decided to extend it to 20 French-speaking countries.