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Celebrating women in science

by Guest Author on 8 Mar 2018

By supporting schemes like Athena SWAN and the WISE campaign we’re committed to advancing women’s careers in STEM. For International Women’s Day 2018, Deborah Barber shares quotes and career insights from some of the many inspiring women in research who we’ve featured on the blog over the past year.

Professor Janet Darbyshire

Professor Janet Darbyshire

“The hospitals used to be completely full of patients with HIV/AIDS, but now things are very, very different.”

Janet is the recent recipient of our most prestigious award, the MRC Millennium Medal. Her research into clinical trials and epidemiology has prevented disease and saved lives around the world. Janet provides an insight into her successful career, from her earliest memories of medicine to the difference her research has made to people’s lives.

Dr Pauline Williams

Dr Pauline Williams

“Believing in myself has been one of the biggest challenges of my career to date. It took a long time for me to stop talking myself out of new opportunities because of lack of confidence.”

After her medical training, Pauline entered the pharmaceutical industry where she’s worked ever since, currently leading global health research and development at GSK. Pauline spends her working days straddling business and science, from being involved in new drug discovery to creating vital strategy documents and budgeting forecasts. In 2017, she brought her unique mix of knowledge to the MRC by becoming a member of Council.


Dr Emilie Pondeville

Dr Emilie Pondeville

“Good rearing of mosquitoes is important because we rely on them for our experiments. If you have bad mosquitoes you’ll do bad science, but with good mosquitoes you’ll do beautiful science.”

As a Research Associate at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Emilie spends her days in a lab with heat reminiscent of a sweltering summer’s day and accompanied by one of the world’s most hated insects – the mosquito. Passionate about her work, Emilie shows a different side to an insect that’s better known for its role in transferring a multitude of devastating tropical diseases.


Dr Sandra BucciDr Sandra Bucci

“I would like to see a digital stream of ‘prescription’ that occurs in services to give people different options about how they receive healthcare – whether that’s a face-to-face session with a clinician, or an app, or both.”

Experiencing a mental illness can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, but having quick and easy access to help can make all the difference. Sandra, Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester, and her team have embraced the digital age by developing a smartphone app for the self-management of psychosis.


Jennah Green

Jennah Green

“Whichever side of the animal research argument you fall on, no one would dispute that research animals should have the highest possible standard of welfare.”

PhD student Jennah from Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience is currently based at the MRC’s Centre for Macaques, where she uses her passion and experience in animal conservation to enrich the lives of the resident primates. Jennah explains why it is vital to monitor monkeys’ welfare, and how her research into improving animal welfare can lead to better science.


Dr Kathy Niakan

Dr Kathy Niakan

“It’s just an amazing system. It’s transforming pretty much every field in basic biology.”

Developmental biologist Kathy, based at The Francis Crick Institute, was awarded the first ever licence to carry out gene editing in early human embryos. Using a new gene editing technique, or ‘system’, called CRISPR-Cas9, Kathy and her team seek to understand the initial days of human development. Kathy explains why it is necessary to use human embryos within research and the potential implications this could have on medical research.

Interested in reading about more inspiring women in science? Check out the UKRI women in research and innovation web page or read some popular gems from our archive:

Take a glimpse into Rosalind Franklin’s work on the structure of DNA and viruses in Behind the picture: Photo 51 and Behind the picture: Rosalind Franklin and the polio model.

Read more about nutrition researcher Elsie Widdowson’s fascinating career in Tales from the Century: Elsie Widdowson and her eclectic research.

Geneticist Mary Lyon studied and worked in a time where it was challenging to be a woman. Read about how she overcame these barriers in Remembering Mary Lyon and her impact on mouse genetics.

The canteen set up by Gisela Perutz has been hugely important for the success of the MRC Laboratory for Molecular Biology. Find out why in Behind the picture: Gisela Perutz and the LMB canteen.

In the early 20th century, Janet Lane-Claypon pioneered research methods that are still in use today. Read about her work in Tales from the Century: Janet Lane-Claypon and epidemiology.


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