Dr Tracy Briggs, from The University of Manchester, has won the prestigious L’Oréal-UNESCO UK & Ireland For Women In Science Fellowships.
Dr Briggs’ work ‘Understanding single-gene disorders that lead to systemic lupus - a potentially life-threatening disease that causes the body to attack its own tissue – was singled out by judges who looked through 289 entries.
In many people, lupus is likely to be the result of a combination of both environmental and genetic factors. However, in some cases, a change in a single gene can cause the condition. Studies of such single-gene causes of disease are helpful to pinpoint which genes play a role in systemic lupus and help to further our understanding of how the disease occurs. Dr Briggs’s research will determine the genetic basis of a familial form of lupus, which starts in childhood and predominantly affects the skin. By determining the chemical and genetic changes causing disease, she hopes to determine the origins of lupus.
With women currently making up just 13% of employees involved in STEM careers, the fellowships - now in their eighth year in the UK & Ireland - promote the importance of ensuring greater participation of women in science. The three other winners came from Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London.
Dr Briggs receives a £15,000 flexible fellowship to further her career, announced at London’s Royal Society this week.
Chair of the judging panel, Pratibha Gai, Professor of Chemistry and Physics, Founding Professor of Electron Microscopy and co-director of the York Nanocentre at the University of York commented on the winners: “We had an absolutely outstanding shortlist this year, and these four women – Dr. Clémence Blouet, Dr Tracy Briggs, Dr. Eva-Maria Graefe and Dr. Sneha Malde exemplify perfectly what the For Women in Science Fellowships stand for.
“They are deeply talented, committed and hard-working scientists, who have huge passion for their research areas. I am excited to see what they all achieve in the coming year, and am confident that the influence and dedication of the female scientific community in the UK is well represented by these remarkable women.”
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L’Oréal UNESCO For Women In Science background
The L’Oréal UNESCO For Women In Science international programme was founded sixteen years ago by L’Oréal and UNESCO on the premise that ‘the world needs science and science needs women’. The awards programme is designed to promote and highlight the critical importance of ensuring greater participation of women in science, by awarding promising female scientists with fellowships to help them further their research. There are three distinct schemes:
• 1.0 The International Laureate Programme: The founding awards provide five leading female scientists, one from each continent, every year with a prestigious laureate of up to $100,000 in recognition of their ground-breaking achievements and contributions to scientific progress. These women are at the cutting edge of their research fields. The international structure of the programme ensures that the laureates are distributed among women who are working under a wide variety of conditions.
• 2.0 The International Fellowships: These fellowships help young women scientists from around the world take up research positions in other countries, allowing them to pursue their research in some of the world’s most prestigious laboratories. There are 15 fellowships given out each year to support ‘the faces of science for tomorrow’.
• 3.0 The National Fellowships, such as the UK and Ireland programme detailed below, are now run in over 46 countries around the world. Each National Fellowship helps women scientists at a critical point in their career to continue to pursue their research with flexible financial aid.