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High award for former University of Siegen Humboldt scholarship holder
Dr. Nowsheen Goonoo, former Humboldt scholarship holder at the University of Siegen, has been awarded the Rising Star Africa Prize by the renowned scientific academy Royal Society.
Around 20 percent of the population of Mauritius suffer from
diabetes, the situation is similar in many other African
countries. The illness is often accompanied with foot ulcers
and wounds that only heal slowly. There are medicines and
dressings, but a large part of the population cannot afford
them. So why not produce cheap dressings using sustainable
resources, which can be found in abundance on the beaches of
the islands in the Indian Ocean: seaweed. This is exactly what
Dr. Nowsheen Goonoo from the University of Mauritius is working
For her research, the chemist has now been awarded the Rising Star Africa Prize by the Royal Society. This award from the British scientific academy rewards researchers from Africa who have made an innovative contribution to science. With Dr. Nowsheen Goonoo, the prestigious prize goes to a former Humboldt scholarship holder at the University of Siegen, who still works closely with colleagues in Siegerland, more than 9000 kilometers away. “With its medals and awards, the Royal Society recognizes those researchers and science communicators, who have made decisive contributions to expanding our understanding of the world around us,” says Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society.
Dr. Goonoo is especially pleased to be able to represent her homeland as a place of scientific excellence. “The news was totally unexpected. It is a great honor for me, as the award also shows the level of research achieved in Mauritius.” At the “Centre for Biomedical and Biomaterials Research” she is driving forward the development of the innovative dressing. So-called polymers are extracted from seaweed, from which nanofibers are created using the electrospinning technology. The great advantage – apart from the considerably lower price: the nanofiber-based dressings ensure that new tissue forms and the wounds heal from inside without scars, whereas wounds close faster with current products, but only superficially.
The award is also a success for the University of Siegen because to a certain extent this product was started at Haadter Berg. In 2016, a Humboldt scholarship holder Dr. Nowsheen Goonoo was a member of the Physical Chemistry I working group of Prof. Dr. Holger Schönherr in the Research Center for Micro- and Nanochemistry and Bio(Technology) (Cµ), in 2018 she returned to southern Westphalia for three months. “The work on dressings started in Siegen, it was where I optimized the production process for nanofibers and had access to the latest technology, for example to microscopes that simply are not available in Mauritius.” She then continued the work in her homeland with great success.
“The award shows how important these cooperations are. We are all the happier that Nowsheen is again working closely with us in a current research project,” says Prof. Schönherr. Project LEISHMACURE, which is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is also about developing a dressing that integrates wound-healing active substances. The focus here, however, is on the infectious disease leishmaniosis, during treatment of which the wound status should be easy to monitor by smartphone for the patients themselves. This project is being coordinated by the professoral candidate Dr. Mareike Müller at the University of Siegen, and the other partners include the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University, the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology in Kenya and the University of Mauritius with Dr. Nowsheen Goonoo.