Habiba Bouhamed Chaabouni
Tunisia, Born 1953
Dr Habiba Bouhamed Chaabouni has made a significant contribution to medical genetics, pioneering research and improving conditions for the many thousands affected by genetic disorders in her native Tunisia.
Over more than three decades, Chaabouni has overcome all odds in what was a male-dominated sphere to become a professor of medical genetics and director of the Laboratory of Human Genetics Research at the Faculty of Medicine of Tunis and head of the Congenital and Hereditary Diseases department at Tunis’ Charles Nicolle Hospital.
In 1981, equipped with medical and science degrees from the Tunis Faculty of Medicine and Paris University V, as well as a long-standing “curiosity to understand life”, she began epidemiological studies and genetic counselling in northern Tunisia where an estimated quarter of all marriages are between first cousins. Since then, her work has focused on the analysis and prevention of genetic disorders often stemming from consanguinity.
For her groundbreaking research, in 2006, Chaabouni was awarded a L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. She is active in various international initiatives relating to hereditary disease, including several UNESCO-sponsored programmes. “I train scientists and doctors from the next generation and I communicate with the public to demystify genetic disease,” she says.
Published in 2012