Four Portuguese women receive Women of Science Medals of Honor today


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Ceremony takes place this Wednesday. The researchers will each receive 15,000 euros.

The Womenof Science Medals of Honor, which were awarded this Wednesday in Lisbon, distinguished four researchers for studies on sleep apnea, Parkinson’s disease, parasitic diseases and epithelia.

The distinction, which in practice is a research grant, was awarded to Laetitia Gaspar, from the Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology at the University of Coimbra, Cláudia Deus, from the Multidisciplinary Institute for Ageing at the University of Coimbra, Sara Silva Pereira, from the Biomedical Research Center at the Portuguese Catholic University, and Mariana Osswald, from the Institute for Research and Innovation in Health at the University of Porto.

Laetitia Gaspar, 31, is following up on previous research which has shown a link between obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, the aging process and the onset of various diseases – such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and depression, among others – observed when this sleep disorder is left untreated.

Cláudia Deus, 37, is studying Parkinson’s disease and wants to answer the following question: “Is it possible to activate the Nrf2 gene, whose function is diminished in Parkinson’s patients, using nanometric vesicles released by our cells and modified with synthetic messenger RNA that codes for this gene?”.

Sara Silva Pereira, 30, proposes to develop three-dimensional models of various organs and tissues from different animal species – such as the brain, heart or adipose tissue – that mimic the microscopic environments of real tissues, in a controlled manner, in order to be able to study in detail various parasitic diseases that affect humans and animals.

Mariana Osswald, 35, is studying how epithelia respond to the mechanical forces they are subjected to, preserving their shape and functions, which are altered in many diseases. Although the term epithelium is little known, it gives its name to one of the types of structural tissues in our body, which line the surface of various human organs – and animals in general – including the skin and the internal organs of the body’s various systems, from the digestive to the respiratory.

Each of the scientists will receive 15,000 euros. The Women of Science Medals of Honor, now in their 20th year, are promoted by L’Oréal Portugal, in conjunction with the UNESCO National Commission (CNU) and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

The four prize-winners, who already have doctorates, were selected from among several dozen candidates for the relevance of their projects presented in 2023. The selection was made by a scientific jury chaired by Alexandre Quintanilha, retired full professor and physics researcher.

The Women of Science Medals of Honor are aimed at female PhDs up to 35 years old (plus one year for each child), who carry out research in Portugal in the areas of Science, Engineering and Technology for Health or the Environment.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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