21 February 2024

Zubaidah Ya’cob

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“Vectors, like biting mosquitos and flies, contributed almost 20% of global infectious diseases, causing more than 700,000 deaths annually.

I dedicate my work for the research in vector-borne tropical diseases because I believe that the health of humans is connected to the health of the animals and the environment. This understanding is vital for the sake of any disease control programs, including managing future outbreaks and pandemics.”

Dr. Zubaidah Ya’cob @drzyacob is a senior researcher at the Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Centre (TIDREC) @tidrec_um @unimalaya

She is the foremost scientist in the country for the study of black fly, particularly of the genus Simulium. Specifically, she is a vector biologist, and the only one trained in morpho-taxonomy in Malaysia.

Dr. Zubaidah has so far described more than 30 new species of black flies, including Simulium jasmoni, named after the former UM Vice-Chancellor, Tan Sri Dr. Ghauth Jasmon.

Her research has brought her all over Southeast Asia and Africa to study the highly protective black flies, found mostly in streams and rivers, which are the vectors for the roundworm parasite (Onchocerca volvulus). This pathogen is responsible for an infectious disease called river blindness (onchocerciasis), endemic in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Yemen and Latin America.

Apart from conducting research, Dr. Zubaidah is also actively involved in community engagement programs, involving primary school children in Klang Valley, orang asli communities, and tahfiz schools. She shared her passion in science by conducting citizen science workshops to create DIY mosquito traps using discarded plastic water bottles.