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In honor of Women History Month I decided to write a post to celebrate Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi.

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi

Photo Credit: TheGuardian.com

Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi is a virologist, professor, and Director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Unit, Virology Department at Institut Pasteur in Paris, France. Dr. Barré-Sinoussi was born on July 30, 1947 in Paris, France. She was the only child and had a passion for science at an early age. When she entered undergraduate she decided to pursue a natural science degree because she wanted to make discoveries.

Shortly after she began to work in the laboratory with Jean-Claude Chermann at the Pasteur Institute studying retroviruses and cancer in mice and completed her PhD there. In 1975 she was offered a fully funded research position supervised by Montagnier. Since I am interested vaccine and infectious disease research I wanted to showcase Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi’s cutting-edge contributions to science in the field of disease transmission, immunity and virology.

In 2008 two of the greatest discoveries were honored. 2008 was the year the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was shared with three scientists. Harald zur Hausen has 1/2 of the Prize share “for his discovery of human papilloma virus causing cervical cancer”, Françoise Barré-Sinoussi has 1/4 of the Prize share and Luc Montagnier has 1/4 of the Prize share “for their discovery of human immunodeficiency5 virus”. As stated on Nobelprize.org website,”It was identified in lymphocytes from patients with enlarge lymph nodes in early stages of acquired immunodeficiency, and in the blood from patients with late stage disease” To learn more about the discovery check out the nobelprize.org.

Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi represents one of the 44 total women that have been awarded the Nobel Prize (1901-2013) and one of the 16 total women that have been awarded the Nobel Prize in the Sciences. She believes that receiving the Nobel Prize is also a prize for everyone in the community.

Dr. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi represents a Mademoiselle Scientist because she is committed to research, discovery and innovation. She is also committed to the success of women in science. Despite being a researcher during a time when their were few women scientists she still continued to make discoveries and make an impact in virology and immunology research. Barré-Sinoussi inspires me because my long-term goal to become a researcher so that I can develop vaccines for malaria and dengue. I know that I will face obstacles, but I am committed to my goals and will continue to work smart. Dr. Barré-Sinoussi is a Mademoiselle Scientist I would love to meet and one day visit the Institut Pasteur.

As I was learning more about Dr. Barré-Sinoussi one of the things that stood out to me was her commitment to recognizing the network of scientists. In an interview Dr. Barré-Sinoussi stated that we should “have a world network of clinicians, virologists and microbiologists, working in the hospitals and basic sciences”. In order to solve problems and make research discoveries it is important that we have to work together. We should think of our network in everything we do and ask ourselves:

How can we build our network of scientists? How can we build a network of women in STEM?

How would you answer these questions? Comment below.


“The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2008”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 8 Mar 2014 <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2008/&gt;

“Nobel Prize Awarded Women”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 8 Mar 2014. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/women.html&gt;