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Nurturing the democratic debate.  
The 2006 UNESCO-L’ORÉAL Fellowships For Women in Science awarded to 15 young women researchers from around the world
Editorial Contact: Frédérique IMPENNATI, Media Relations Agency, RUDER FINN, tel.: +33 (0)1 56 81 15 00 - Email

01-03-2006 4:00 pm Each year, UNESCO and L’OREAL grant 15 international fellowships to young women researchers in the life sciences, allowing them to pursue their research projects as guest scientists in laboratories outside their home countries. During the 2006 fellowship ceremony today at UNESCO in Paris, Béatrice Dautresme, Vice President, Corporate Communications and External Relations for L’ORÉAL, and Walter Erdelen, Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO, announced that the duration of the fellowships will be doubled starting this year. From now on, each fellowship can last for a maximum of two years and will be worth up to $40,000.

The 15 UNESCO-L’ORÉAL Fellowships for 2006 were allocated by region, with 3 winners each for Africa, the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe (including Canada and the U.S.A.), Latin America and the Caribbean.

The UNESCO-L’ORÉAL 2006 Fellows: eco-citizens of the world
The work of the Fellowship beneficiaries can be grouped under 4 themes, which illustrate their commitment to the issues facing their countries and the world:

Preserving Biodiversity:

- Priyadharshini MADHOU (Mauritius – Africa) Plant biotechnology: Study of genes controlling plant resistance to fungus infection.
Host institution: University of Cape Town, South Africa

- Sabah BEN FREDJ (Tunisia – Arab States) Microbiology: Study of the genetic variability of fungi found on grapes in Tunisian vineyards, whose toxin can cause kidney damage in humans.
Host institution: National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRA), Versailles, France

- Ghada Ahmed Mohamed ABU EL-HEBA (Egypt – Arab States) Molecular biology: Improvement of nitrogen-fixation in leguminosae, to reduce the use of environmentally damaging nitrate fertilizers.
Host institution: Institute of Plant Science, CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Decoding Life in the Extreme:

- Prudence MUTOWO (Zimbabwe – Africa) Molecular biology: Study of gene regulation in Archaea, a group of primitive organisms which live in extreme environments.
Host institution: School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, UK

- Mun Peak NYON (Malaysia – Region Asia/Pacific) Structural biology: Determining the three-dimensional structure of cutinase, a fungal enzyme of great interest to the detergent industry.
Host institution: Krebs Institute for Biomolecular Research, University of Sheffield, UK

- Anita KRISKO (Croatia – Europe) Structural biology: Computer modeling to investigate how degradation of proteins in the eye lens can lead to blindness.
Host institution: Genomic and Molecular Bio-informatics Unit, University of Paris VII, France

- Zeina DAHER (Lebanon – Arab States) Biochemistry: Study of mitochondrial DNA mutations, responsible for numerous diseases such as neurodegenerative disorders and cancer.
Host institution: REGER Laboratories, CNRS, Victor Segalen University Bordeaux II, France

Detection for Improved Targeting:

- Ruchi SINGH (India – Asia) Parasitology: Identification of genes involved in drug-resistance of Leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease that affects 1.5 million people every year and in extreme cases can lead to death.
Host institution: FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Maryland, USA

- Juana DEL VALLE MENDOZA (Peru – Latin America) Immunology: Development of a therapeutic vaccine against HIV-1, the virus responsible for AIDS.
Host institution: Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, Spain

- Andréa MANTESSO (Brazil – Latin America) Health sciences: Study of dental stem cells to provide innovative solutions for cavities and craniofacial deformities, such as cleft palate.
Host institution: Department of Craniofacial Development, King’s College, London, UK

- Valérie GBONON (Côte d’Ivoire – Africa) Microbiology: Study of the virulence factors of Group B Streptococcus bacteria infections to improve antibiotic treatment for pregnant women and newborn babies, a significant public health issue in Africa.
Host institution: Bacteriology Service, Cochin Hospital, Paris, France

- Irene MAIER (Austria – Europe) Biomedicine: Development of an immunological biochip to facilitate clinical diagnosis of food allergies.
Host institution: Department of Food Science, University of Leeds, UK

Ecosystem Sentinels:

- Diana PEREZ STAPLES (Mexico – Region Latin America/Caribbean) Behavioral ecology: Study of biological pest control to reduce the use of environmentally dangerous insecticides.
Host institution: Macquarie University Centre for the Integrative Study of Animal Behaviour, Sydney, Australia

- Dilfuza EGAMBERDIYEVA (Uzbekistan – Region Asia/Pacific) Environmental microbiology: Development of environmentally friendly, bacteria-based fertilizer to fight crop disease in her native country.
Host institution: Institute of Biology, University of Leiden, The Netherlands

- Stéphanie JENOUVRIER (France – Europe)
Ecology: The impact of global warming on the population dynamics of Emperor penguins.
Host institution: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts, USA

The three actions of the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science program
The L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Fellowships are an element of the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science program, which is built around three initiatives:

- Celebrating excellence through the five L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards, which constitute the cornerstone of the programme. These prestigious annual distinctions, awarded to five leading women researchers, one per continent, identify exceptional women as role models for generations to come. The 2006 Award laureates will be announced on March 2nd.

- Encouraging talent through the UNESCO-L’ORÉAL International Fellowships. Granted annually since 2000 to 15 promising young women scientists, doctorate or post-doctorate researchers, they reinforce international scientific cooperation and foster cross-cultural networks.

- Developing diversity through the L’Oréal National Fellowships with the support of UNESCO’s National Commissions, which anchor the For Women in Science programme in countries around the world, while respecting their particularities and their specific needs. Every year, nearly 60 fellowships are allocated in some 20 countries.

Created in 1998, the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science partnership is the fruit of an exemplary collaboration, illustrating the way that the private sector and an intergovernmental institution can pursue joint projects to support women of science, encourage the advancement of knowledge, and enhance development on a global scale.

L’Oréal is a worldwide leader in the cosmetics industry, developing innovative products to meet the diverse needs of customers in 130 countries worldwide. Nearly 2,900 people work in the Group’s 14 research centres, located in France, Asia and America. Their findings are responsible for the registration of hundreds of patents annually. Women represent 55% of the research workforce – a percentage unmatched anywhere else in the industry.

Since its creation in 1945, UNESCO has been dedicated to eliminating all forms of discrimination and promoting equality between men and women. While designing scientific education programmes intended especially for young women, UNESCO has created several academic chairs that connect women of science around the world. The international report on science, technology and gender that UNESCO will shortly publish is intended to help its 191 Member States develop appropriate policies in this area.

More information on the L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science partnership

Source Press Release N°2006-15
Keywords Basic Sciences,Women scientists,Fellowship

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