Celebrating International Women's Day
Here’s 10 influential women from 10 countries who have shaped medicine and healthcare.
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, born France, identified human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2008.
Elizabeth Blackburn, born Australia, received a Nobel Prize in 2009 for co-discovering telomerase, an enzyme which stops chromosomes from deteriorating. It is thought that telomeres and telomerase play a key role in both the ageing process and the development of certain cancers.
May-Britt Moser, born Norway, won the Nobel Prize in 2014, for her work on grid cells in the brain. Her work is providing other scientists into cognitive processes and spatial deficits associated with neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Marie Curie, born Poland, conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first women to win the Nobel Prize, and isolated Polonium and Radium in 1898. Her work has led to the use of radioactive substances in research, diagnosis and treatment.
Gertrude Elion, born USA, won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1988.
She developed the first immunosuppressive drug, azathioprine, used for organ transplants; the first successful antiviral drug, acyclovir (ACV), for the treatment of Herpes infection; and Mercaptopurine (6-MP) the first major drug for leukaemia.
Dorothy Hodgkin, born Egypt, developed protein crystallography, won the Nobel Prize in 1964, and determined the 3D structure of penicillin, vitamin B12 and insulin. Her advances in X-ray crystallography have been responsible for determining the structure and functioning of many biological molecules.
Quarraisha Abdool Karim
Quarraisha Abdool Karim, born South Africa, is an infectious diseases epidemiologist who is globally recognised for her contributions to improving the understanding of HIV/AIDS and the combating HIV infection across Africa.
Rita Levi-Montalcini, born Italy, won the Nobel Prize in 1986 for discovering nerve growth factor, which has changed how doctors understand, diagnosis, and treat some disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Ada Yonath, born Israel, won the Nobel Prize in 2009 for her x-ray crystallography work on ribosomes (complex protein molecules). Her work has been important in the production of antibiotics.
Tu Youyou, born China, and who won the Nobel prize in 2015, discovered artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin, used to treat malaria, which has saved millions of lives. The discovery is regarded as a significant breakthrough in 20th century tropical medicine.