14th Edition of the L'Oréal Women for Science Medals
Researchers Carina Crucho, Dulce Oliveira, Inês Bento and Margarida Fernandes were the winners of the 14th edition of the L'Oréal Portugal Medals of Honor for Women in Science. The Call is an initiative of L'Oréal Portugal in partnership with the National UNESCO Commission and the FCT and is supported by Ciência Viva. The medals were awarded in a ceremony held on March 21, at the Pavilion of Knowledge.
This prize is awarded annually, has a unit value of 15,000€ and is aimed at young Portuguese scientists with PhDs aged up to 35 years, who carry out research in Portugal and conduct original studies relevant to health and/or the environment. Established in 2004, the award aims to motivate and support young scientists to pursue their projects, having so far distinguished 45 researchers in Portugal. This year, more than 70 young Portuguese scientists submitted their projects to Call, evaluated by a scientific jury chaired by Alexandre Quintanilha.
About the award-winning female researchers:
Carina Crucho, from Instituto Superior Técnico, seeks to develop a system for the distribution and controlled release of antibiotics, which combines antibiotics with nanotechnology in order to achieve a higher local concentration of antibiotics, to enhance its therapeutic effect and avoid the need for increasingly higher dosages. This study may help overcome the inefficiency of conventional antibiotics or even give them a new life, contributing to the development of a new generation of nanoparticles that are more efficient in fighting resistant bacteria. PhD in Organic Chemistry from the Faculty of Science and Technology, New University of Lisbon, Carina Corucho is currently a post-doctoral researcher funded by FCT at the Instituto Superior Técnico, where she is developing the project "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down: mesoporous silica glyconanoparticles for theranostics".
Dulce Oliveira, from the Portuguese Institute of Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA), is conducting a study that, for the first time, analyzes marine and terrestrial climate indicators in marine sediments of the Iberian margin and the east coast of the USA. This analysis makes it possible to understand the mechanisms that are naturally associated with climatic extremes (drought, heavy rainfall, fires) and to evaluate their impact on the ecosystems of the Iberian Peninsula and the US East Coast. In this way, it will also be possible to have essential information for future climate prediction and modeling, as well as for the definition of an efficient and economically sustainable environmental policy.
PhD in the area of Sciences and Environment, in the branch Marine Geology and Paleoclimate (2017), Dulce Oliveira has been connected to several institutions, such as: EPHE-University PSL of Paris, Center of Marine Sciences-University of Algarve, Dom Luiz Institute-University of Lisbon and the EPOC-University of Bordeaux, the institution that gave her the degree. He then received a post-doctoral contract in the area of Paleoclimate, also at the University of Bordeaux. Already this year, he won a research Studentship in the area of Marine Geology - Paleoclimate & Marine Palynology, in the ULTImATum project "Understanding past climatic instabilities in the North Atlantic Region", which is funded by FCT and with which he applied for the L'Oréal awards.
Inês Bento, from the Institute of Molecular Medicine, through her project, aims to identify one of the conserved mechanisms of the malaria parasite: the existence of a circadian cycle, which allows this intracellular parasite to control time, anticipate and adapt to cyclical and predictable changes in its environment. Understanding the relevance of this cycle in the survival, virulence and transmission of Plasmodium and a deeper understanding of 'parasite-host' interactions at all stages of its development will allow the study of new strategies to combat the disease. With this study, it will also be possible to identify a universal therapeutic target at all stages of the parasite's life.
In 2008, the researcher started her PhD at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, having developed her research project in the Cell Cycle Regulation Laboratory. In 2012 she defended her doctoral thesis and in 2014 began a post-doctoral project at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in a new area of research, parasitology.
Margarida Fernandes, from the Center of Physics/Center for Biological Engineering at the University of Minho, is investigating a new generation of active materials for bone tissue engineering. These materials respond to physical stimuli, such as magnetic and mechanical stresses, by promoting the cellular growth of osteoblasts (bone cells). The development of these tissue engineering techniques, which include the use of innovative materials to create new bone tissue by stimulating the natural regenerative capacity of the patient's tissues, will contribute to the treatment of bone injuries and diseases that affect thousands of people around the world.
Completed his PhD at the Department of Textile Engineering of the University of Minho, in the area of Material Science/Biotechnology. Completed his first post-doctoral in Spain, at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, in the Department of Chemical Engineering. He is currently doing research in Portugal, in the "Electroactive Smart Materials Group" of the Physics Center/Center for Biological Engineering of the University of Minho, in the project "Magnetoelectric nanocomposites as platforms for bone tissue regeneration".