By Dr. Kirsten Gilardi, Executive Director

Following nearly a year of studying veterinary pathology at the University of California, Davis and Johns Hopkins University, we are thrilled to have Dr. Jean Bosco ‘Noel’ Noheri, DVM, MSc, MBA, officially begin his new role as Gorilla Doctors’ first-ever regional pathologist.

READ (with video) a short Q&A with Dr. Noel while he was in the U.S.

Dr. Noel works with Dr. Linda Lowenstine at UC Davis, 2023. © Gorilla Doctors

Fulfilling a Dream

When Dr. Noel began with Gorilla Doctors in 2009, he started in our clinical laboratory, which at the time was focused on basic diagnostics. That position was the foundation of his future career as he processed specimens, managed medical supplies, and assisted with necropsies. He was promoted to field veterinarian in 2012 and spent over a decade honing his expertise in wild great ape clinical medicine.

Dr. Noel conducts a routine health check, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda. 2022. © Gorilla Doctors

But he never let go of a dream to one day return to the lab as a veterinary pathologist. His patience paid off! In 2023, thanks to the generous support of Jeffrey and Tiffany Neu, Dr. Noel studied pathology with board certified veterinary pathologists Dr. Linda Lowenstine and her colleagues at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Kathleen Gabrielson and her colleagues at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

He Left a Field Veterinarian and Returned a Pathologist

When Dr. Noel returned to Rwanda at the end of November 2023, he was also returning to our brand new regional laboratory  – the Gorilla Doctors Michael Cranfield Regional One Health Laboratory –at our regional headquarters in Musanze. Working with our chief veterinary and scientific officer Dr. Tierra Evans, Dr. Noel worked on building out the histopathology room of the new lab while also talking about pathology to anyone who would listen…

Dr. Noel discusses pathology during a tour of the histopathology room at the Gorilla Doctors Michael Cranfield Regional One Health Laboratory. Musanze, Rwanda. 2024. © Skyler Bishop for Gorilla Doctors

What is a Regional Pathologist

Pathology is the study of the essential nature of diseases and the changes they cause to an animal’s organs and physiology. Pathology is essential for confirming causes of mortality and morbidity. So, the primary responsibility of Gorilla Doctors Regional Pathologist is to oversee and ensure the successful and comprehensive implementation of all pathology-related investigations and activities of the Gorilla Doctors program for the entire region where we monitor eastern gorilla health – Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo.

When I asked how he was settling into his new role, Dr. Noel said,

“Now that my dream has been realized, I am looking forward to advancing Gorilla Doctors’ pathology capacity and to the increased knowledge we will gain on the causes of mortality in mountain and Grauer’s gorillas. Of course I will still help my colleagues with clinical work whenever needed.”

So are we Dr. Noel! Congratulations on your promotion and never giving up on your dream!