NEW YORK, March 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Philippa Marrack, one of the world's
leading immunologists, will be honored this week in Paris, France with a
L'OREAL - UNESCO For Women In Science (FWIS) award for her dedication and
outstanding contribution to scientific progress. Dr. Marrack is one of five
distinguished women representing five regions of the world who will receive
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L'OREAL, the world's leading cosmetic company, and UNESCO, the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization dedicated to
collaboration among nations, this year celebrates the sixth anniversary of the
L'OREAL - UNESCO For Women In Science awards partnership, with a promise to
continue to support the advancement of women in science.
"L'OREAL's commitment alongside UNESCO in the For Women In Science
partnership is a concrete expression of our firm conviction that science is
the source of all progress and that the contribution of women is vital to its
future," said Lindsay Owen-Jones, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,
L'OREAL. "Rewarding distinguished women scientists is only a start. Their
example, we hope, will inspire the younger generation, women still at
university, to study life sciences and later pursue a scientific career.
Their success will benefit all women. But the greatest beneficiary will be
science itself." Mr. Owen-Jones joins Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of
UNESCO, in hosting the awards event each year in Paris.
The FWIS awards program is the only one of its kind that recognizes women
for their achievement in the sciences. Each year, five top prizes and 15
fellowships are awarded, in as many as 20 countries.
Dr. Marrack was selected as this year's North American award recipient.
She was chosen for her significant contribution in the area of T cell research
-- the family of cells that help the body fight off disease -- and their
effect on the immune system.
Dr. Marrack has spent much of the last 35 years studying the features of T
cells and how they can trigger autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid
arthritis. Her work on 'memory' T cells has been crucial in the understanding
of how vaccines can be made to work more efficiently.
Dr. Marrack is also known for her discovery of 'super-antigens' in the
early 1990s. These are toxins produced by certain micro-organisms, such as
staphylococci, which stimulate very large numbers of T cells and provoke the
violent symptoms associated with food poisoning or toxic shock syndrome.
A research investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, vice chair
of the department of Immunology, and professor at National Jewish Medical and
Research Center in Denver, Colorado, Dr. Marrack is former president of the
American Association of Immunologists, and current president of the
International Union of Immunological Societies. She is also a fellow of the
United Kingdom's Royal Society, and received the American Association of
Immunologists Lifetime Achievement Award last year.
FWIS awards are distributed in five regions around the globe: North
America, Europe, Asia/Pacific, Africa and Latin America. The Laureates are
selected by an international jury of their peers, led by 1999 Nobel Prize
winner and jury Vice-President, Prof. Gunter Blobel. The Laureates will each
receive a grant of $100,000.
Other distinguished honorees include:
* Nancy Ip, Professor and neuroscientist at the Department of
Biochemistry & Biotechnology, Research Institute, Hong Kong University
of Science and Technology, China. Prof. Ip specializes in the biology
of neurotrophic factors -- proteins that promote development, growth
and maintenance of neurons in the body's nervous system. Her studies
have led to the identification of neurotrophic factors as potential
pharmaceutical agents in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders,
such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
* Jennifer Thomson, Professor in Molecular Biology at the University of
Cape Town, South Africa. Prof. Thompson has devoted much of her
research career to the development of genetically modified plants to
improve agricultural productivity and food quality in developing
countries. Her research group has developed an experimental variety of
transgenic maize resistant to the Maize Streak Virus, a disease which
has devastating effects on smallholder agriculture, in parts of Africa
where maize is the staple food and livestock forage crop.
* Christine Petit, Professor in Genetics and Sensory Physiology at
Institute Pasteur, France. Prof. Petit is best known for her
contribution to the understanding of the genetic basis of sensory
disorders. Prof. Petit was the first researcher to properly address
the way to identify the genes involved in hereditary deafness in
humans, and to decipher their underlying cellular and molecular
defective mechanisms. Her work on the sensory system also led her to
identify genes responsible for Kallman syndrome, the only hereditary
human disease causing a loss of olfaction.
* Lucia Mendonca Previato, Professor in Biophysics and Parasitology, at
the Biophysics Institute, Federal University of Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
Prof. Previato's career has been devoted to the study of Trypanosoma
cruzi, the protozoan parasite responsible for Chagas disease, a
debilitating and often fatal condition. Her research group was the
first to discover that the parasite scavenges a crucial molecule --
sialic acid -- directly from its host's surface cell and transfers it
to receptor glycoproteins on the parasite's surface via a unique
catalytic reaction. Sialic acid plays a key role in helping the
parasite attach itself to the host and can also reduce the
effectiveness of the host's immune response.
In addition to this year's L'OREAL-UNESCO For Women in Science Laureate
awards, an international group of 15 young women (three for each of the five
UNESCO regions) will be awarded fellowships valued at $20,000 each.
Note to the Editors
L'Oreal is the world's number one cosmetics company with an impressive
portfolio of 17 international brands, sold in 140 countries.
L'Oreal's brand portfolio includes: L'Oreal Paris, Maybelline, Garnier,
Soft Sheen Carson, Matrix, Redken, L'Oreal Professionnel, Vichy, La
Roche-Posay, Lancome, Helena Rubinstein, Biotherm, Kiehl's, Shu Uemura
and Armani, Cacharel and Ralph Lauren fragrances. L'Oreal is the only
cosmetics group that is present in every distribution channel: mass
market, hair salons, department stores, pharmacy and mail order.
The Group is also one of the world's most successful businesses ever,
having reported its 19th consecutive year of double-digit growth for
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