The United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the L’Oréal Foundation are unveiling the winners of this year’s International Prize for Women in Science, which honours five eminent women scientists with exceptional careers from the five regions of the world, as it has done annually since 1998.

The importance of science in meeting the major challenges facing us become more compelling than ever in recent years and to be effective, science must draw on all talents. 

“Giving space to women in the sciences is important for equality which benefits humanity, as demonstrated by the laureates of the L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science. Their example encourages girls and women everywhere to undertake scientific careers,” said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay.

UNESCO and the L’Oréal Foundation are therefore particularly proud to announce the five 2022 laureates, selected by an independent jury headed by Professor Brigitte Kieffer (laureate of the 2014 L’Oréal-UNESCO Award), for the 24the Women in Science International Awards in the category of life sciences and the environment.

Laureates of the 24th L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science International Awards (€100,000 each)

Latin America and the Caribbean
Professor María Guadalupe Guzmán Tirado – Infectious Diseases
Director of the Research Center of the Pedro Kouri Institute (IPK), Institute of Tropical Medicine, Havana, Cuba
Awarded for her pioneering work to improve the understanding and treatment of dengue, also known as “tropical flu.” Dengue fever occurs mainly in the inter-tropics and is estimated to infect between 50 and 100 million people worldwide each year. Her research has led to a better understanding of its pathogenesis, treatment of its symptoms and prevention.

North America
Professor Katalin Karikó – Biochemistry
Adjunct Professor at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, USA, and Senior Vice President of BioNTech RNA Pharmaceuticals
Awarded for her outstanding contribution to the development of messenger RNA technology. Her work has led to the breakthrough in the development of vaccines against COVID-19.  

Asia and the Pacific
Professor Hailan Hu – Neuroscience
Professor and Executive Director of the Neuroscience Center of Zhejiang University School of Medecine, China
Awarded for her major discoveries in neuroscience, in particular her work on depression, which has led to the development of next generation drugs for depression. 

Africa and Arab States
Professor Agnès Binagwaho
 – Public Health
Professor of Pediatrics and Vice-Chancellor of Global Health Equity University, Kigali, Rwanda
Awarded for her crucial role in establishing a new public health care system for the most vulnerable in Africa, particularly in Rwanda. Her work has led to improved access to HIV, malaria and TB care.

Professor María Ángela Nieto Toledano – Embryology
Professor at the Institute of Neuroscience (CSIC-UMH), San Juan de Alicante, Spain
Awarded for her fundamental discoveries on cell differentiation during embryonic development. Her work has paved the way for the development of new therapeutic approaches in the treatment of cancer and its spread to other tissues. 

Based on the conviction that the world needs science and that science needs women, UNESCO and the L’Oréal Foundation are committed to promoting women in science. In order to make them more visible, make their talent known and inspire vocations in future generations, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme aims to accelerate the careers of women scientists and to fight against the obstacles they encounter.

According to the latest UNESCO Science Report published last June, the number of women pursuing scientific careers is growing, but it is growing too slowly: just over 33% of researchers worldwide are women and only 4% of Nobel science prizes have been awarded to women. These inequalities are even more marked in technology and artificial intelligence, where only 22% of professionals are women.

Since the creation of the For Women in Science programme in 1998, 122 laureates and more than 3,800 talented young scientists, doctoral and post-doctoral students, have been supported and honoured in more than 115 countries.

The L’Oréal Foundation is committed to helping women express their potential, reclaim control of their lives and contribute to society, through three areas of intervention: scientific research, beauty in solidarity, and climate change. UNESCO, the only UN specialized agency with a specific mandate in the sciences, has made gender equality a priority. Through its science programmes, it contributes to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and helps developing countries build their scientific and technological capacity.