L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellowships: Five winners from Institut Curie!
The prizes were awarded by the L’Oréal Foundation in partnership with the French Academy of Science (Académie des Sciences) and the French National Commission for UNESCO on Monday 8 October 2018. The event’s highlights were a €15,000- to €20,000-prize and high-profile recognition. In addition to the research fellowship, the winners were also awarded access to a leadership training scheme designed to “develop new ways of breaking through the glass ceiling” that prevents women from accessing decision-making roles, explained the L’Oréal Foundation.
Floriane Pelon, doctoral student from Fatima Mechta-Grigoriou’s Stress and Cancer team (Paris-Descartes)
Working as part of the Stress and Cancer team, Floriane Pelon’s research looks at how non-cancerous cells impact on tumor development. Tumors are made up of cancerous cells as well as a significant number of non-cancerous cells. Among them are fibroblasts, redirected away from their original role by tumorous cells to help fuel their development. Floriane has already demonstrated that some sub-types of fibroblasts could therefore play a role in suppressing the immune system, while others contribute to disseminating cancerous cells, thus increasing the likelihood of metastases. These findings could help medical experts learn to monitor how the illness develops.
Morgane Morabito (U1021/UMR3347, Institut Curie, PSL, Paris-Saclay) doctoral student from Alain Eychène and Célio Pouponnot’s Tumor Progression and Signaling Mechanism team (Université Paris-Saclay)
Morgane Morabito’s primary area of interest is medulloblastoma, a childhood brain tumor. Around 30% of these tumors remain incurable today, and form the heart of Morgane’s work and research. She is particularly interested in a chain-reaction series of molecular events known as the TGF-beta/Activine signaling pathway, which plays a major role in tumorous cell proliferation. Succeeding in blocking this signaling pathway could ensure proliferation is stopped. This hypothesis is being studied for other forms of cancer, but Morgane Morabito is the first to examine the possibilities for this medulloblastoma sub-type.
Lucile Alexandre (PSL / LAAS-CNRS) from Jean-Louis Viovy’s Macromolecules and Microsystems in Biology and Medicine team
Lucile Alexandre is studying pre-eclampsia in pregnant women, an illness that can lead to serious complications and death for both mother and child if left untreated. Her work in Jean-Louis Viovy’s laboratory involves developing microfluidic techniques, one of the laboratory’s areas of expertise, in order to study the possibilities of reducing the ratio between the two proteins responsible for pre-eclampsia. To do so, she has developed an extraction system based on a suspension of miniscule magnetic beads that allows the ratio to be corrected in the blood.
Laura Cantini (Institut Curie/Inserm U900/PSL) from Emmanuel Barillot’s Bioinformatics and Cancer Systems Biology team
Immunotherapy has inspired revolutionary change in how some cancers are treated. It involves ‘unblocking’ the immune system, causing the latter to recognize cancer as a foreign cell and to destroy it, in a similar way to the manner in which our immune system rids our organism of viruses. Laura Cantini is working to better understand the mechanisms that enable immunotherapy to work effectively for some patients with advanced melanoma. To do so, she uses computational biology: creating new methodologies that draw on molecular biology algorithms, computing and mathematics to decode the mechanisms in question.
Hélène Moreau (INSERM (U932) / Institut Curie / PSL) from Ana-Maria Lennon’s Antigen Presentation Spatial and Temporal Control team
Cellular migration is responsible for a number of different processes, including metastases that develop away from the primary tumoral site. How these cells migrate is determined by a number of different physical and chemical mechanisms. Hélène Moreau is working to better understand how inflammation, particularly when linked to cancer, alters the physical properties of skin tissue, thus impacting on immune cell function and migration. To do so, she draws on microfluidics, proteomics and imaging.
Every year, the L’Oréal Foundation issues awards to around 280 young female researchers working in over a hundred different countries. In 2018, 30 French researchers received an award. They were selected from a long-list of 900 candidates. More information