Kamariza is tackling a very real problem: Throughout the developing world, including Burundi, tuberculosis is one of the top causes of death. In 2018, the disease killed 1.5 million worldwide, far more than even AIDS. Though testing and treatment are on the rise, low-income, rural populations still struggle to detect and contain the disease. Her invention — a portable diagnostic tool — could help identify more cases faster, anywhere in the world, to prevent further spread, get treatment to those in need, and even monitor the effectiveness of that treatment.
Bertozzi encouraged Kamariza to launch her own company. Once again, she wavered. “How many African immigrant women founders do you know in Silicon Valley in the biotech industry?” Kamariza said. “I think it’s a flat zero.” She makes at least one. In 2018, Kamariza co-founded OliLux Biosciences. The same year, Harvard offered her a position in its Society of Fellows (another offer she never thought she’d receive). “I’m the first Black woman biologist at the society,” Kamariza said. “At that point, it’s not about me anymore. It’s what I represent. It’s about people who come after me. It’s breaking a glass ceiling. It was an offer I could not refuse.”