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Diplomatic Inmunity
The objective of this Anthony Torres’ internship is knowing how to defeat chikungunya.

By Nelson Peñaherrera. Photos Courtesy Anthony Torres. Cambia a español.

LIMA, Peru – I can’t guarantee Malingas (Tambogrande District) was the place where a mischievous Anthony Moisés Torres (Piura City, 6/15/1993) discovered his vocation, but I believe that fertilized it.

After a scholarship funded by
European Union to study at University of Bordeaux, from where he followed the work oft France’s Pasteur Institute and having an internship at Cayetano Heredia National University’s Institute of Tropical Medicine in Lima, this National University of Piura’s school of Biological Sciences undergraduated student (his last year) is amid the paperwork to have a new one in Singapore.

If you have something in mind, and you really like and passionate it, fight for it,” he repeats. “Opportunities are out there but they don’t knock on your door, you have to look for them.”

Before sleeping, antony stops to think about how his life evolved from Malingas countryside to the Asian city-state, one of the most developed in the planet.

- Tell me aboutyour visits to your granpa’s farm.
- I was ever in contact to the countryside given that my father is a farmer and my mother is a Piurano teacher, who finally worked at a school in the countrryside. I remember when I was a child, I went much in Summer vacation, or long holidays, what allowed me to have a time with my grandparents, uncles and other cousins, who used to play with me climbing the tamarind and mango trees. The life at the farm was pretty relaxing to me, it granted me peace and tranquility, and actually, I still return when I feel I need to escape out the noise and hustle of the city. My grandparents’s farm ever called my attention. They had a lot of animals and I could spend hours feeding them or following stealthly the hens for discovering their nests. Since there comes the interest for studying the life, that is basically the definition of the Biology word.

- How long ago did it happen?
- Since I have memories, I tell you. Maybe 15, 16 years ago.

- Do you climb mangoes and tamarinds yet?
- [Laughs] The last time I did it was the last year after I got back from France. I went visiting my grandfather, and it was mango season so I went into the farm. I saw a pretty little red mango at the top of a tree. “I still can”, I amazed.

- Is that because your physical agility, your scientific curiosity, or what?
- It was because I was hungry. [Laughs] But actually, as I’ve not done it time ago, I doubted about having physical capability and agility to get it.

- A little detail. However, I feel that your vocation for Biology is very unite to your love for the countryside, or am I wrong?
- Yes, it began so indeed. I was interested on animal life and from watching how hens and lambs ate, I became a fan of Discovery Channel and NatGeo documentaries about the animal world, about Bengala Tigers, and orangutans in tropical jungles to lions and zebras in African Savannah. I remember The Crocodriles Hunter and another big fans of the wild life. That was how I decided about my career, and in certain point I decided turning into a zoologist (studying only animals) from it, but after I turned around getting interested on biomedical research and public health.

- Why did you get interested on Biomedical and Public Health?
- Here is another pretty huge factor inside, and it’s about my father ever wished I was a medical doctor but I really didn’t believe to have the vocation of one. Because a medical doctor, whom we usually refer as the person who cures us, offers a customized attention, a person once a time in other words. However, while I was going on my career, I knew about the life of big scientists who discovered antibiotics, created vaccines, studied pathogens, described diseases, etc. and their sightings not only touched the life of one person but many times in populational scales, and much greater inclusive, at public health level. There was the beginning point of changing my career’s course and focusing on biomedical sciences.

- Are you expecting to discover the cure of anyone of diseases we currently have?
- I think that is the dream of every researcher on biomedical sciences, the biggest contribution that one can give to the society. After a life focused on the investigation, is that – the solution of a problem.

- Do you have any goal in mind about that particular?
- Yes, I do. During my time in France, I admired the work of Paris’ Pasteur Institute, a big internationally reknown institution what investigates about infectious diseases, mainly tropicals, those affecting many times to developing countris like ours: malaria, dengue, chikungunya, zika, yellow fever, HIV, tuberculosis, Chagas’ Disease, leishmaniasis, etc. The list is long. I’d interested on investigate about the mechanisms of infection and develop treatments against them, like vaccines for example, from an inmunological perspective, I mean how the body responses to invasion by pathogens.

- Precissely, your internship in Singapore has to do about inmunology. What’s its objective?
- Yes. I precissely decided to postulate in this internship because it offered a unique opportunity to go deep on a high-level biomedical research on infectous diseases’ inmunology, chikungunya virus in this case. I’ll be assigned to a laboratory that tries to clarify the mechanisms those make the virus to evade the human body response against the pathogen and gets to infect the cells and causing the clinic signs (symptoms). This laboratory also has projects related to develop a vaccine against that virus. Singapore is one of the four Asia Tigers, a potence about biomedical research. I’m sure it will be a great experience and serve in future pplans.

- Singapore is also a contry with one of the major academic performances in the world. So… what are your future plans?
- Indeed, it is a great example of a country. Few years after its independence, it got to consolidate as an Asian potence. My future plans are applying for post-grade schools, getting a mastership, a doctorate, and maybe, a not-so-far day, owning a laboratory in my charge, where I can investigate what I’m interested on.

- Our followers didn’t know I’m interviewing you, but when we released the news, some sent questions. I have one: Are you going to work in Peru or abroad?
- Actually, I’d like to learn abroad first. Unfortunately in Peru, scientists find out a very hard reality, a state what doesn’t invest in research and poorly equipped laboratories (the most of cases). However, my idea is learning abroad, then coming back to Peru and being based in here.

In any case, Anthony is clear about a thing: “When a door closes, many more ones open.”

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