Early-career women honoured for research

16 February 2013, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Five medical and life science researchers from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean Basin have won the 2013 Elsevier Foundation Awards for Early Career Women Scientists in the Developing World for work that could contribute to life-saving knowledge and therapies worldwide.

The prizes for research excellence were awarded by The Elsevier Foundation, the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD), and TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world. The organizers share a common goal: to build research capacity and advance scientific knowledge throughout the developing world.

The winners are:

  • Nasima AkhterNasima Akhter, Center for Nuclear Medicine and Ultrasound, Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, Dhaka Medical College Hospital Campus, for her research on foetal screening for congenital anomalies using ultrasonography and her introduction of the use of inactive iodide adjunct medication with radioiodine therapy in Graves‘ disease. (TWAS Regional Office for Central and South Asia)
  • Namjil ErdenechimegNamjil Erdenechimeg, Institute of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, for her investigations of catalytically active antibodies with oxidoreductase activities from the sera of rats. (TWAS Regional Office for East and South-East Asia and the Pacific)
  • Dionicia GamboaDionicia Gamboa, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Department of Cellular and Molecular Sciences, Lima, Peru, for her multidisciplinary approach to fighting leishmaniasis and malaria, in particular for her studies into the molecular epidemiology of these diseases in endemic regions. (TWAS Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean)
  • Huda Omer BaSaleemHuda Omer Ba Saleem, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Aden University, Yemen, for her dedication in the fight against cancer and for the well-being of women and children in the Arab region. (TWAS Arab Regional Office)
  • Adediwura A. Fred-JaiyesimiAdediwura Fred-Jaiyesimi, Department of Pharmacognosy, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria, for her work on the medicinal uses of plants, particularly her research on the hypoglycaemic and a-amylase-inhibitory activities of the extracts of two local plant species. (TWAS Regional Office for Sub-Saharan Africa)

„If we hope to solve the challenges that confront developing nations, we must help young women in science to fully develop their skills and energy,“ said Professor Romain Murenzi, executive director of TWAS. „The winners of this prize will be an inspiration not only to other young women, but to all scientists of every generation.“

The awards were announced Saturday 16 February in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (www.aaas.org) (AAAS), one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious science gatherings.  The winners received their prizes at the annual Women & Minority Scientists and Engineers Networking Breakfast organized by AAAS Education and Human Resources.

„In developing countries, continuing scientific research is difficult due to lack of resources, infrastructure and appropriate support,“ said award-winner Nasima Akhter in the days leading up to the ceremony.  „For young researchers, especially women, it is more difficult to continue research without cooperation and support from employers, co-workers and even family members.  The Elsevier Foundation award is an immense honor and an appreciation of early career women scientists from developing countries who are devoted to continuing their research despite limited opportunity and constrains. It will encourage determination, amongst a new generation of women scientists, to contribute more in scientific development through research using available resources and focusing on community needs in line with national and international development goals.“

„These five women are pioneers,“ said Professor Fang Xin, president of OWSD. „They come from different regions and different cultures, but all of them are doing highly advanced medical and life-science research. Their creativity and achievements will contribute to saving lives around the world, and that is sure to inspire a new generation of young women to pursue their highest ambitions in science and other fields.“

David Ruth, executive director of the Elsevier Foundation, said: „The Elsevier Foundation recognizes how important professional visibility is to developing high-profile international scientific careers. Through our New Scholars grant programs we strive to support early-career women scholars with mentoring, research retreats, professional visibility, childcare, work-life integration and recognition programs. The awards for these impressive women scientists represents a cooperative effort supported by Elsevier, OWSD, AAAS and TWAS to build research capacity and advance scientific knowledge throughout the developing world – and what better place than the annual AAAS conference to raise awareness among scientists, policymakers, journalists and the public about the need to retain and celebrate top women scientists.“

The prize includes US $5,000 and all-expenses paid attendance at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston.

The 2014 awards will focus on early career-women researchers in chemistry. The competition will be launched on 2 April 2013.

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