Dr. Abdullah Kirumira

Scientist, Inventor, Entrepreneur

There are many reasons for Nova Scotia to welcome new Canadians. One, as exemplified by Dr. Abdullah Kirumira, is that they can be brilliant — and capable of improving life on earth using Nova Scotia as their base.

Dr. Kirumira was born in Uganda, and might have made important contributions there except that the period he was in university as a dental student was the time of Idi Amin’s dictatorship. Abdullah escaped to Iraq to study chemistry with the idea of becoming a doctor. Looking back, he says: “Getting into biotechnology was how I got back to [my] dream. I chose to apply the discipline to medicine.”

It was during the early 1990s that Dr. Kirumira moved with his family to Nova Scotia. He had obtained a position as a biochemistry professor at Acadia University. There, he carried out research with a few of his graduate students, especially Hermes Chan, and came up with an invention in 1993 that was to have worldwide impact. The team developed a three-minute HIV diagnostic test. With that success, Dr. Kirumira decided that his future should be in fulltime research in an independent company.

First came Octupus Diagnostics then MedMira and in 1999 Dr. Kirumira founded BioMedica Diagnostics in Windsor. It's a medical biotechnology company that focuses on the research, development, and marketing of affordable diagnostics solutions for resource-challenged clinics. Dr. Kirumira and his company work with governments and international aid agencies such as the World Health Organization. The goal is to develop diagnostic equipment for small clinical settings, such as battle zones, rural healthcare facilities and corporate and industrial clinics.

Dr. Kirumira explains his work this way: "My vision is to establish affordable laboratory medicine in Third World countries that do not have access to diagnostic equipment because it is too expensive, or they don’t have the appropriate technology at their disposal."