2019 April 2

Biola Javierre awarded a prestigious International Rising Talent prize by L’Oreal-UNESCO

Biola Javierre of the 3D Chromatin Organization Group at the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute is only the fifth Spanish woman to receive the award in the 21 years of its history.  The 15 winners this year were chosen from 280 applications from all over the world; they all attended a presentation at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris

Research Institute is only the fifth Spanish woman to receive the award in the 21 years of its history.  The 15 winners this year were chosen from 280 applications from all over the world; they all attended a presentation at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. 

Javierre set up her group at the institute recently after completing a postdoctoral stay in Peter Fraser’s laboratory in Cambridge, where she developed a new technique for identifying parts of the genome responsible for regulating the activity of specific genes in different cell types. “It is complex,” she told us smiling, “My work investigates how the three dimensional structure of the DNA, when it is coiled up in the cell, is fundamental for putting different sections of genetic code, which are a long way apart on the chain, in touch with each other. This affects the activity of genes, which in some cases have different roles in different cells. Although all the cells in one person have the same genetic code, we want to find out why some become cancerous and others do not.”

The l’Oréal award was started in 1998 in conjunction with UNESCO with the aim of reinforcing the presence of women in science and in positions of responsibility. Both organizations believe strongly that the world needs science and that science needs women. The Rising Talent awards recognize 15 women each year who are at a key point at their careers. They receive 15,000 euros to help their research effort, attend an award ceremony in Paris and have the chance to participate in high level coaching sessions. The winners are selected from the winners of National programmes that take place in over 45 countries.

Javierre and her new group will apply her technique to look for more effective treatments for childhood leukemia at the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute. “My aim is to continue enjoying my work, to strive to improve the quality of life for patients with blood cancers and to be able to combine this with caring for my children.” She told us. “It is my ambition that my hard work will serve to save lives and give hope to families and friends,” she added.