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Reflecting on National Women's History Month

As we near the end of March and National Women's History Month ends, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the countless contributions made by women in cancer research. Despite facing systemic barriers and discrimination, these women, among numerous others, have been instrumental in advancing our understanding of cancer and developing new treatments for the disease. In this blog, we'll highlight just a few of the many female scientists who have significantly impacted the world of cancer research.

Dr Janet Rowley:

Described by Nature Journal as the 'matriarch of modern cancer genetics', Dr Janet Rowley was a pioneering geneticist who discovered the genetic basis of many cancers, including Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) and Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). Her work was instrumental in establishing the field of cancer cytogenetics and laid the foundation for developing targeted cancer therapies. Dr Rowley was the first woman to receive the National Medal of Science in biological sciences in 1998. We also wanted to champion Dr Rowley’s support system. According to the same article in Nature Journal, one of Rowley’s most prominent supporters was her mother, a high-school teacher and librarian who encouraged her scientific pursuits.

Dr Susan Love:

Dr Susan Love is a prominent breast cancer researcher who has advocated for women's health for over 30 years. Credited with founding the first all-women breast centre in Boston, she also invented an intraductal catheter alongside a “model for multidisciplinary breast care at the Revlon/UCLA Breast Center.” Having battled Leukemia, the Dr Susan Love Research Foundation conducts research on breast cancer and advocates for more patient-centered approaches to treatment. Dr Love’s selfless devotion to pursuing breast cancer prevention makes her an unmissable feature in this blog. Her work has helped change how we think about breast cancer and has led to more personalised and effective treatments, and you can find out more about her contributions on the Dr Susan Love Foundation website.

Dr Mary-Claire King:

Best known for discovering the BRCA1 gene, Dr Mary-Claire King is the geneticist to link BRCA1 to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Her work on the BRCA gene dates back to 1997 and has since helped identify high-risk women significantly earlier. In addition, Dr King’s research has led to the development of targeted prevention and treatment strategies. As if her medical contributions weren’t enough to cement her place in our overview, Dr King has also been a champion for women in science and has advocated for gender equality and diversity in the field. View her complete profile on the Breast Cancer Research Foundation website to read about her revolutionary research and unrelenting work in the gene technology world.

Dr Elizabeth Blackburn:

Dr Elizabeth Blackburn is a molecular biologist who co-discovered the enzyme telomerase which plays a crucial role in ageing and cancer. Her work has led to a better understanding of how cancer cells maintain their ability to divide and has opened new avenues for cancer research and treatment. Dr Blackburn’s invaluable contributions earned her a well-deserved Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for her work on telomeres. Click here for a biographic overview of her life and work.

Dr Winnie Wu:

In addition to celebrating the contributions of female scientists in cancer research, we would also like to recognise our very own COO, Winnie Wu. As the COO of GeneFirst, Winnie is responsible for overseeing ongoing business operations within the company. Her expertise lies in relationship management and communication, which are critical skills in the fast-paced world of biotech.

Winnie's background in molecular biology also gives her a unique perspective on the biotech industry's challenges and opportunities. She obtained her PhD in Biology from the University of Bath, where she studied the molecular mechanisms of photoreactivation repair of UV-damaged DNA.

In Summary

These are just a few examples of the countless women who have significantly contributed to cancer research. Their work has helped to save countless lives and has paved the way for future generations of scientists. We also wanted to use this blog as a reminder to champion the success of your team, family, and the wider community.

The work that organisations such as 'Women in STEM' carry out is essential in promoting gender equality and diversity in the field of science. By highlighting the achievements of female scientists and providing support and mentorship to women pursuing careers in STEM, we can create a more inclusive and innovative scientific community. At GeneFirst, we are committed to promoting diversity and empowering all team members to reach their full potential. We believe that fostering a culture of inclusivity can make a real difference in the fight against cancer and other diseases. As we celebrate National Women's History Month, let's remember and honour the numerous women who have made a difference in the world of cancer research. Let’s also look toward a future filled with groundbreaking discoveries and many more pioneers of excellence.

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