Three of the world’s top women chemists visit UK to inspire young scientists

Three of the world’s top women chemists are visiting the UK this week (29 March - 2 April) to tour institutions and talk about their research with the aim of inspiring young scientists to emulate their achievements.

The inaugural Rosalind Franklin International Lectureship Programme has been masterminded by Professor Susan Gibson, Imperial College London, who funded the initiative with her prize money from the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award.

The three speakers, who between them are visiting St Andrews, Bristol, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Oxford, Southamption, Leicester, Leeds and finally London, are:

  • Professor Dan Yang, University of Hong Kong, who is researching the effects of bio-active natural products, particularly those from traditional Chinese medicine, with the hope of producing new drugs to combat conditions ranging from cancer to arthritis.
  • Professor Jackie Barton, California Institute of Technology, whose research is investigating the electrical properties of the DNA molecule, with possible applications in ‘DNA-based chips’ to detect damage and mutations in genetic material.
  • Professor Margaret Brimble, University of Auckland, whose research focuses on synthesising shellfish toxins which can be used to develop drugs for pain relief, epilepsy, hypertension, strokes and cancer.

Dame Julia Higgins, Vice-President of the Royal Society and Chair of the Rosalind Franklin Award Committee, said: “As a chemist myself, it is fantastic to see the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award prize money being used to bring such outstanding individuals to the UK. With the current under-representation of women in science, particularly at senior levels, these women will be inspiring role-models for the younger generation of researchers.”

Professor Susan Gibson, Imperial College London, winner of the 2003 Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award, said: “I am delighted to be able to welcome such distinguished chemists to the UK this week to take part in the first Rosalind Franklin International Lectureship programme. They are all world-class "molecule manipulators", and the UK chemistry community is looking forward to hearing about their latest discoveries. The programme has been initiated with generous funding from the DTI, but I anticipate that financial support from the UK chemicals industry, which relies heavily on scientific research and innovation, will enable the lectureship programme to run for several years.”

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