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5 women who should have won a Nobel Prize

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It was an all-male lineup of laureates for last year’s Nobel prizes in medicine, physics and chemistry, awards that grant the winners entry to the most prestigious club in science.

That none of the 2021 winners in those categories were women was, to some critics, more evidence of systemic bias in science, since women are already less likely to be. given credit or named as main author of scientific articles despite the fact that more and more women participate in scientific research.

Others, however, say last year was a blip in a broadly positive trend, pointing to a lag effect that results from the Nobel committee generally honoring breakthroughs that happened three or four decades ago, when there were fewer women. in high-level positions in scientific fields.

David Pendlebury, Senior Analyst at Clarivate, looks at how often colleagues cite a scientist’s key papers, which he says is an indicator of whether a person will win a Nobel Prize.

“Two decades ago, it would be rare to find a woman, for example, to designate as a dating laureate, but as we move forward in time, we find there are more women… in the top positions of researchers”, he said before 2022 Nobel Prize announcements next week. A citation laureate is someone who is considered likely to win a Nobel Prize. “That’s why I say it’s inevitable that the Nobel Prize will go to more and more women…and it will be more geographically diverse.”

In 2020, two women, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, for the development of the CRISPR method for genome editing, while Andrea Ghez was part of the trio that won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of a supermassive black hole.. Winners in 2019, when the Nobel Committee asked nominators to consider diversity in gender, geography, and fieldwere all men, while 2018 saw the first female physics winner since 1963, donna strickland.

It is notoriously difficult to predict who will win a Nobel Prize, an honor established by Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel more than a century ago. The shortlist is secret, as are the nominators, and the documents revealing the details of the selection process are hidden from public view for 50 years. However, there is no shortage of worthy candidates to be the next laureates in science. Here are five women scientists and the life-changing discoveries they’ve made.

Genes that cause cancer: In the 1970s, while it was understood that cancer was sometimes hereditary, cancer research focused on viruses. With a background in investigating genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees, Dr. Mary-Claire King, now a professor of medicine and genome sciences at the University of Washington School of Medicine, took a new approach. She discovered the role of a BRCA1 gene mutation in breast and ovarian cancer. The discovery has enabled genetic tests that can identify women who are at increased risk of breast cancer, as well as measures to reduce their risk, such as additional screening tests and preventive surgeries.

Vaccine progress: dr Katalin Kariko, Senior Vice President of BioNTech based in Germany, in 2021 lasker awardto honor which is often seen as a precursor to the Nobel Prize. Along with Drew Weissman, a professor of vaccine research at the University of Pennsylvania, she pioneered a method of using synthetic messenger RNA to fight disease that involves changing the way the body makes virus-fighting material. Although her article received little attention when it was first published in 2005, her research it is now the basis for two widely used Covid-19 vaccines.

Katalin Kariko played a key role in the development of mRNA vaccines.

Astronomical curiosity: Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a physicist from Northern Ireland, contributed to the discovery of the pulsar, a puzzling astronomical phenomenon, as a graduate student at Cambridge University. However, it was her supervisor, Antony Hewish, who shared the Nobel Prize in physics in 1974, who got credit for the discovery. In interviews, Bell Burnell has been magnanimous about being overlooked, saying that she was proud that the stars she observed had convinced the award committee. “My contemporaries were more upset about the Nobel than I was about not being recognized. One of them labeled it the ‘No-Bell’ award!” she said in an interview. In 2018, he received a Special Breakthrough Award in Fundamental Physics, for which he received £2.3m. She donated the money to help people from underrepresented groups become doctors.

Revolutionary Chemistry: dr Carolyn Bertozzi, a professor at Stanford University, has pioneered a new field called bioorthogonal chemistry, which focuses on chemical reactions within living cells that can take place without interfering with innate cellular processes. She sought to understand why cells are coated with sugar and how these sugar molecules contribute to conditions such as cancer, inflammation, and bacterial infection. Modification of these cells through biorthogonal chemistry has led to new ways of treating many diseases. she won this year Wolf Prize for Chemistry and is also an active activist for LGBT rights.

Carolyn Bertozzi, a Stanford chemist, at the Grace Science headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on November 17, 2019.

Prevention of sickle cell disease: dr Marilyn Hughes Gaston devoted much of her life to understanding sickle cell disease, an inherent condition in which the body cannot produce normal hemoglobin. Affecting children, it results in weak tissue damage, causing and even death. Gastón was interested in the condition while interning at Philadelphia General Hospital in 1964. In 1986, he published the results of a groundbreaking national study that demonstrated the efficacy of giving children with sickle cell disease long-term treatment with penicillin in preventing septic infections resulting from sickle cell disease. the illness. As a result of Gaston’s work, all children are screened for sickle cell disease at birth. She was also the first African-American to lead the United States Office of Primary Health Care.

The work of Dr. Marilyn Gaston, left, ensured that children are screened for sickle cell disease at birth.

The Nobel prize for physiology or medicine will be announced on Monday, followed by the prize for physics on Tuesday and the Nobel prize for chemistry on Wednesday. The Nobel Prize for Literature and the Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Thursday and Friday, respectively.


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