RFS Briefings - February 12, 2020

I am pleased to include another issue of RFS Briefings with some timely and encouraging updates on women in science. We hope you began the year with a look at the video presentations from our meeting at the Wistar Institute. And we hope you are saving the date for our 2020 meeting at HHMI, November 18-19. 

Of note:

  • Women Deliver is looking for 300 young advocates committed to creating a more gender-equal world. Applications are being accepted through March 13, 2020. Read more.

  • Offering $400 for a successful referral, Sixfold Bioscience is seeking to fill the position of Nucleic Acid Chemist. As an RNA chemist, the recruit would have the opportunity to design and synthesize RNA that enhances Sixfold’s proprietary drug systems. Read more.

See below for more news about women in science

Please continue to share important news and opportunities with us so that we may share it with you, and others who are committed to supporting the careers of exceptional women in science.
With Regards,

Karla Signature

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society

Lighting the Molecular World
Jennifer Dionne, who is among the first scientists to view our world on the nano - and molecular scale, received a 2019 Alan T. Waterman Award for this work - the National Science Foundation’s highest honor for young researchers under 40.  According to Dionne, this work has important implications for the future, including “more effective pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals, more efficient photocatalysts for clean energy and even all-optical computing schemes that mimic the way our brain computes, but at the speed of light.” She is also using light-based approaches to understand the basis of various diseases, for which she recently received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award for exceptionally creative early career scientists. Read more.

Sandra Horning Appointed to 3 Biopharma Boards
Oncologist Sandra Horning, retired Roche chief medical officer, was just appointed to the board of Moderna, her third appointment after joining EQRx and then Gilead. Her “high-level experience” will be an important contribution biopharma boards, while at the same time improving gender diversity for such companies. BIO’s latest survey found that while women account for 46% of the overall staff of 50 biotechs surveyed, they represent only 19% of their board members. Read more. 

Christina Koch Lands back on Earth, and Crosses a Threshold for Women in Space
Astronaut Christina Koch, who returned to earth on February 6, crossed a threshold for women in space - one that “leads us into a future where women in space are not the exception.” She completed three all-female spacewalks and set a record for the longest single stay in space by a female, logging 328 days. She volunteered for this mission as part of a long-duration experiment. Read more.  

What Christina Koch Did in Space for 328 Days
During her mission, Koch devoted much of her time to various experiments and investigations. As an orbiting laboratory, the space station can be used to test how different aspects of everyday human life on Earth react to the lack of gravity. To contribute to a better understanding of what long-term spaceflight can do to the human body, she participated in the Vertebral Strength investigation which focused on developing countermeasures to the impact of spaceflight (such as preventative medicine and exercise), and the Kidney Cells investigation which focused on the effects of diet, water conservation, space travel and microgravity on kidney health, possibly leading to new treatments for kidney stones and osteoporosis. Koch also helped to install the BioFabrication Facility to print biological tissues and performed multiple plant biology studies. Read more.

Meet the Winner of the 2019 Eppendorf and Science Prize for Neurobiology
Lauren Orefice, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, is the Grand Prize Winner of the 2019 Eppendorf Prize for her work on the causes and potential therapies for autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Orefice’s work changes how we think about the causes of autism spectrum disorders and highlights peripheral sensory neurons as a possible novel therapeutic target. This international prize encourages the work of promising young neurobiologists by providing support in the early stages of their careers. Read more.

Women Deliver’s Award-Winning Young Leaders Program
Women Deliver is looking for 300 young advocates ages 15-28 who are committed to creating a more gender-equal world. To date, 700 advocates from 138 countries have been trained and are on the front lines of initiatives to advance gender equality and the health and rights of girls and women. Applications for the next class of Women Deliver Young Leaders are being accepted through March 13, 2020. Read more.

British Scientist, 42, Races Against Time to Invent a Vaccine That Will Stop Coronavirus Deaths
British scientist Kate Broderick has been fighting infectious diseases for over two decades, including successful vaccines for Ebola, Zika, and Mers. Feeling a responsibility to tackle the coronavirus, she worked around the clock to develop a vaccine at Inovio, a pharmaceutical company in San Diego. Just days after Chinese authorities released the genetic code of the virus, Dr. Broderick and her colleagues designed a vaccine within three hours. The design went directly into manufacturing the next day, and distribution will be expedited by €7.5 million grant from a Bill Gates initiative. She hopes clinical trials will begin early this summer and that, based on talks with the US FDA, “’emergency-use authorization’” for international distribution will be secured. Read more.

Harvard, Amgen Foundation Launch LabXchange Platform
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard and the Amgen Foundation have announced the launch of LabXchange, a free online platform designed to address barriers to quality science education. It provides users with access to personalized instruction, virtual lab experiences, and networking opportunities - all toward the goal of creating a more inclusive global scientific community. Read more.

Announcing the 2020 Vilcek Foundation Prize Winners
The Vilcek Prizes and Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise honoring the outstanding contributions of immigrants in the sciences and the arts have been announced. Xiaowei Zhuang, professor at Harvard Medical School and HHMI Investigator, won the Prize in Biomedical Science for developing super-resolution microscopy and genome scale imaging. Her work enables the direct visualization of the structures, activities, and expression profiles of life-sustaining molecules in cells. Viviana Gradinaru, professor at the California Institute for Technology, was among the winners of the Prize for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science for her development of next-generation tools in optogenetics, tissue clearing, and gene delivery which offer potential therapeutic applications in human diseases. Read more.

Bias in Biotech Funding Has Blocked Women-Led Companies
Men continue to dominate leadership of the biotech industry despite significant gains by women in the sciences. To quantify this disparity, Sangeeta Bhatia, a successful serial entrepreneur, teamed up with former MIT president Susan Hockfield and renowned biologist Nancy Hopkins. Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Emerita and founding RFS Board member, uncovered systematic discrimination against women in the 1990s. Based on data from MIT’s technology licensing office, they found that about 40 companies haven’t been created because women haven’t had the opportunity, thereby contributing to a lack of  treatments today that might otherwise have been developed. Read more.

Melinda Gates Has a Plan to Help Women Gain Power in Tech
Pivotal Ventures, Gate’s investment and incubation company, in partnership with Break Through Tech and SecondMuse, launched a new initiative called Gender Equity in Tech (GET) Cities that aims to boost female representation and leadership in tech. Chicago has been selected as the first location for this five-year experiment. According to Renee Wittemyer, director of program strategy and investment at Pivotal, women and especially women of color are “’systematically left behind.‘” For more information about GET, and the plan for a “more inclusive tech ecosystem in Chicago,” see here. Read more.

Goldman Sachs Will No Longer Do IPOs for Companies with All-Male Boards
According to chief executive officer David Solomon, Goldman Sachs has implemented a new policy. The Wall Street “giant” will no longer work with any company unless it has at least one “’diverse’” board member. The focus is on getting more women on corporate boards. Over the last four years, evidence has shown that the performance of IPOs in the US is significantly better when there has been a woman on the board. The company will extend this policy to all private companies in which Goldman has a majority investment stake. Read more

Forty of the Nation’s Brightest Young Scientists Named Finalists in Regeneron Science Talent Search 2020
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and the Society for Science & the Public announced 40 finalists in the 2020 Regeneron Science Talent Search, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious science and math competition for high school seniors. The top 10 finalists will be named on March 10, 2020. Females represent more than half of the Regeneron STS finalists. Alumni have achieved world-changing careers in STEM and have earned some of the most esteemed academic honors, including the Nobel Prize. Read more. 

Orderly Desk, Orderly Mind
Carla Shatz, biologist and neurobiologist, and director of the Stanford Bio-X interdisciplinary centre at Stanford University, reflects on the importance of an orderly workplace. Admittedly a “compulsive person,” she explains that the order of her desk is symbolic of her orderly mind. Because of this, she and her lab have been able to “think outside the box,” and work on themes that are unexpected. According to Shatz, “The best science is done when people are extremely careful and precise.” Dr. Shatz is a founding member of the RFS Board. Read more.

Susan Solomon Earns The ISSCR Public Service Award
Susan L. Solomon, JD, chief executive officer and founder of The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute, is the recipient of the 2020 International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) Public Service Award which recognizes outstanding contributions in the field of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. Described by colleagues as a strong leader, she is an advocate for diversity and inclusion of young scientists and women in the field and a champion for scientific excellence. Solomon was a speaker at the 2019 RFS Board Meeting and Colloquium in Philadelphia. Read more.