14th Annual L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science

Each year, five outstanding women scientists – one per continent – are honoured for the contributions of their research, the strength of their commitments and their impact on society. An international network of nearly 1,000 scientists nominates the candidates for each year’s Awards. The five Laureates are then selected by an independent, international Jury, presided this year by Pr. Günter Blobel, Nobel Prize in Medicine 1999.

Professor Blobel said: 'The work of the 2012 Award Laureates yielded remarkable insights into human health issues, such as diabetes, brain seizures, bacterial and viral infections, and extending to the cultivation of plants in arid areas.  Their research is truly original and each is among the best in five distinct regions of the world.'

Faced with global issues such as diminishing resources, increasing and aging populations, and the consequent medical and social challenges, L’Oréal and UNESCO are convinced that these women researchers will have a major impact on society and help light the way to the future.  

Since 1998, the L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards have recognised 64 laureates from 30 countries, exceptional women who have made great advances in scientific research.  Two of them have gone on to receive the Nobel Prize.

In its aim to promote and encourage women throughout their scientific careers, the For Women in Science partnership has also developed a global network of International, Regional and National Fellowship programs aimed at supporting young women who represent the future of science. To date, Fellowships have been granted to more than 1,200 women in 103 countries, permitting them to pursue their research in institutions at home or abroad. The programme has become a benchmark of scientific excellence on an international scale.

 Professor Jill FARRANT

Jill Farrant is the world’s leading expert on resurrection plants, which ‘come back to life’ from a desiccated, seemingly dead state when they are rehydrated. Professor Farrant is investigating the ability of many species of these plants to survive without water for long periods of time from a number of angles, from the molecular, biochemical and ultrastructural to the whole-plant ecophysiological, using a unique comparative approach and working with many different species of resurrection plants and a variety of tissues. The ultimate goal is to find applications that will lead to the development of drought-tolerant crops to nourish populations in arid, drought-prone climates, notably in Africa, and her research may have medicinal applications as well.Research Chair – Plant Molecular Physiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, South Africa.


The 2012 Laureates in Life Sciences are:

Professor Jill FARRANT  - Research Chair: Plant Molecular Physiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA
“For discovering how plants survive under dry conditions.”

Professor Ingrid SCHEFFER - Chair of Paediatric Neurology Research, University of Melbourne,  AUSTRALIA
“For identifying genes involved in some forms of epilepsy.”

Professor Frances ASHCROFT - Royal Society Research Professor, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, Oxford University, UNITED KINGDOM
“For advancing our understanding of insulin secretion and of neonatal diabetes.”

Professor Susana LÓPEZ - Developmental Genetics and Molecular Physiology, Department of the Institute of Biotechnology, National University of Mexico, Cuernavaca, MEXICO
“For identifying how rotaviruses cause the death of 600,000 children each year.”

Professor Bonnie BASSLER - Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Molecular Biology, Princeton University, USA
“For understanding chemical communication between bacteria and opening new doors for treating infections.”