Denise Head awarded scientific heirloom

Leading female scientists awarded scientific heirlooms

Embargoed until 00:01 Wednesday 6 June 2018 

[LONDON, UK, 6 June 2018] Leading female scientists awarded scientific heirlooms by their peers at the 5thSuffrage Science Awards for Life Sciences on 6 June 2018. 

A hundred years after the first women in Britain got the vote, women still only make up 23% of those working in core science, technology, engineering and mathematics occupations in the UK. 

On 6 June 2018, 11 female scientists from across the world will be presented with hand-crafted jewellery at the Suffrage Science awards ceremony, held at the Academy of Medical Sciences, London. The awards celebrate women in science and encourage others to enter science and reach senior leadership roles. 

The 11 awardees are chosen by the previous award holders for their scientific achievements and ability to inspire others. The awards themselves are items of jewellery, inspired by the Suffrage movement, and are passed on as heirlooms from one female scientist to the next. 

Alongside the awards science writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry will lead a discussion on Women in Science- Then and Now. Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Suffragette Emeline Pankhurst, will discuss her new book Deeds Not Words: The Story of Women's Rights - Then and Now, while Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies and ScienceGrrl Director Dr Anna Zecharia, will share their insights on the current landscape for women in science, explore why change is taking so long and discuss how to make a difference for women in the future. 

The Suffrage Science scheme was initiated by Professor Dame Amanda Fisher, Director of the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (MRC LMS) in 2011. 

Amanda says “Now in its seventh year, these heirlooms createa self-perpetuating network of talent and contacts to help others succeed in science. This year’s awardees join a community of over 100 women scientists. Since 2011 the awards have travelled from the UK, across Europe to the USA, Hong Kong and now to Australia, illustrating the international nature of science and the global effort to improve female representation.” 

The 2018 award winners are:

Professor Rebecca Voorhees

California Institute of Technology, USA

Professor Anna Wu


Professor Jenny Martin 

Griffith University, Australia

Professor Liz Bradbury

King’s College London, UK

Professor Claire Rougeulle

Paris Diderot University, France

Professor Mikala Egeblad

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, USA 

Professor Susan M.Gaines 

writer/Bremen University, Germany

Professor Irene Miguel-Aliaga  

MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, UK

Professor Cathy Price

University College London, UK

Professor Denise Head

Washington University in Saint Louis, USA

Professor Anat Mirelman

Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Centre, Israel 

Each previous holder chooses whom they want to pass their heirloom onto, below are reasons for two of the nominations. 

“I admire Mikala’s extraordinary courage to keep posing scientific questions of her deepest interest, even when they require the most challenging, time-consuming and costly methods.” Professor Marja Jäätelä, Danish Cancer Society Research Centre on her nomination to Professor Mikala Egeblad, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, USA.

“She is developing a very successful and original research program and communicates her findings with passion and great clarity. Alongside her research activities, she mentors younger female scientists and actively participates to initiatives to improve the gender balance at senior level.” Professor Corinne Houart, King’s College London on her nomination of Professor Irene Miguel-Aliaga, MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences

The current award holders (2016) were

Dr Lori Passmore

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, UK 

Dr Michelle James

Stanford University, USA

Dr Airlie McCoy

University of Cambridge, UK

Professor Catherina Becker

University of Edinburgh, UK

Dr Deborah Bourchis

Institute Curie, Paris, France

Professor Marja Jäätelä

Danish Cancer Soc. Res. Centre, Denmark

Dr Pippa Goldschmidt

Freelance / University of Edinburgh, UK

Professor Corinne Houart

King’s College London, UK

Professor Kia Nobre

University of Oxford, UK

Dr Uraina Clark

ICAHN School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, UK

Dr Sally John

Biogen Idec, Boston, USA

The jewellery was created by art students from Central St Martins who worked with scientists to design pieces inspired by research and the Suffragette movement, from which the award scheme takes its name.

The Suffrage Science scheme was founded seven years ago by the Medical Research Council’s London Institute of Medical Sciences (then Clinical Sciences Centre). It celebrates and inspires women in science, creating a self-perpetuating cohort of talent that will encourage others to enter science and reach senior leadership roles. The awards themselves are heirloom items of jewellery commissioned from students of the art and design college, Central St Martins-UAL, who worked with scientists to create pieces inspired by research. The pieces also draw inspiration from the jewellery of the Suffragette movement from which the award scheme takes its name.

MRC London Institute of Medical Sciencesis an Institute of the Medical Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation. It is a vibrant research environment in which scientists and clinicians collaborate to advance the understanding of biology and its application to medicine. LMS research programmes are focused in three sections: Epigenetics, Genes and Metabolism, and Integrative Biology. ###

If you would like further information about the awards please contact Dr Jenna Stevens-Smith, Head of Engagement and Communications at the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences. 


Name: Jenna Stevens-Smith

Mobile: 07714 051 445


Notes for editors:

-      Women in the UK STEM workforce– report by WISE campaign 

-      Deeds Not Words: The Story of Women's Rights - Then and Now– Helen Pankhurst