Ntombizodwa (Tombi) Makuyana is an incoming Ph.D. student at Babraham Institute and a Gates Scholar researching on respiratory immunology. Tombi graduated from the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University (ASU) with a bachelor's degree in medicinal chemistry (biochemistry) under the Mastercard Foundation Program. During her undergraduate years, Tombi developed a keen interest in learning how the immune system can be harnessed to control disease progression. In particular, she researched cervical cancer, elucidating the potential use of human papillomavirus (HPV) specific immune responses as biomarkers for early detection of cervical cancer, at Biodesign Institute.
At Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR), she investigated the effect of tau accumulation on neuroinflammation and synaptic proteins during Alzheimer's disease progression. Currently, Tombi is serving as Global Peace Ambassador for Zimbabwe, United Nation Millennium Fellow, and a co-founder of the Female Dreamers Initiative that focuses on women empowerment. Ntombi aspires to contribute to efforts of improving healthcare standards in Africa and the world.