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Five exceptional female scientists win awards from L'Oreal-UNESCO

By Li Chunyan For China Daily | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-05-30 23:10

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and L'Oreal Group chairman and president of Fondation L'Oreal Jean-Paul Agon present the awards to five exceptional female scientists at the 26th edition of the L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards Ceremony at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris on Tuesday. From left: Alicia Kowaltowski, Nada Jabado, Rose Leke, Jean-Paul Agon, Yan Nieng, Genevieve Almouzni, Audrey Azoulay. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Five exceptional female scientists, selected from among 350 candidates worldwide, were honored at the 26th edition of the L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science International Awards Ceremony at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris on Tuesday.

Women representing Asia and the Pacific; Africa and the Arab States; Europe; Latin America and the Caribbean; and North America were singled out by an independent international jury.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and L'Oreal Group Chairman and President of Fondation L'Oreal Jean-Paul Agon presented the awards.

The laureates include Yan Nieng, a Chinese Academy of Sciences academician, chair professor at the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University, founding president of Shenzhen Medical Academy of Research and Translation, and director of Shenzhen Bay Laboratory.

Rose Leke, former head of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology at the Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and former director of the Biotechnology Centre at University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon was also honored, along with Alicia Kowaltowski, professor of biochemistry at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and Nada Jabado, professor of pediatrics and human genetics at McGill University in Canada. Genevieve Almouzni, director of research at the National Center for Scientific Research at the Curie Institute and a member of the Academy of Sciences in France rounded out the five.

The awards were aimed at recognizing the women's pioneering research in life and environmental sciences, and in particular their major contribution to tackling global public health challenges, including cancer, infectious diseases such as malaria and polio, and chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, and epilepsy.

Yan Nieng is the eighth Chinese scientist to receive the award since its inception.

She was honored for discovering the atomic structure of multiple membrane proteins that mediate the traffic of ions and sugars across cell membrane, revealing principles that govern cross-membrane transport. Her exceptional research has informed multiple disorders such as epilepsy and arrhythmia and has guided the treatment of pain syndrome.

In her acceptance speech, Yan said: "This recognition is not just a testament to my own efforts, but also a celebration of the countless individuals who have supported and inspired me along this remarkable journey."

She especially thanked her high school chemistry teacher Guan Yi, her PhD adviser Shi Yigong, her team members, and her family.

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