Keresoma Leaupepe’s interest in health and disease, and in particular how they impact on his Samoan community has been his motivation all through his study at the University of Otago.
Keresoma, whose father is from Faleasiu and whose mother is from Tufulele, studied at the National University of Samoa after graduating from Avelele College as second to the dux and top science student.
When Keresoma received a scholarship from NZAid he had no trouble deciding which university in New Zealand he wanted to study. “I was so interested in health related stuff and I heard that Otago University has the best reputation in health related studies and research,” Keresoma says.
Beginning his studies in 2012 Keresoma first found studying at Otago challenging. “It was difficult to adapt in the new environment and lifestyle, and it did have an impact on my studies,” he explains.
However, he quickly found his way and says, “Otago is the best place to study in the whole wide world. Not only for its academic reputation and teaching, but also for the environment surrounded by amazing scenery and of course lifestyle.”
Now well and truly settled in to the Otago way of life, Keresoma has completed a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences (Hons) degree.
Keresoma chose this degree as it allowed him to study in a wide range of areas including genetics, anatomy, biochemistry, and pathology. “I was also interested in disease based research, where we can look at specifically the molecular level of a particular disease,”
This summer he is extending his skills by undertaking a summer studentship looking at genetic variants of Interleukin 23 Receptor that are associated with various Auto-inflammatory diseases such as Cronh’s disease, gout and rheumatic heart fever.
“Having the opportunity to do research on gout and rheumatic heart fever in the Polynesian population is exciting and interesting. I can’t wait to give back to my community from all the knowledge that I have learnt from the University of Otago,” Keresoma says.