The world needs science, and science needs women

EMBL Director General joins other L’Oreal-UNESCO Laureates in Paris

Edith Heard
Edith Heard, Director General, EMBL, received the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award ‘For Women in Science’ in 2020. Credit: Kinga Lubowiecka/EMBL

EMBL Director General Edith Heard received the L’Oreal-UNESCO Award ‘For Women in Science’ in 2020 for her “fundamental discoveries concerning the mechanisms governing epigenetic processes, which allow mammals to regulate proper gene expression and are essential for life”.

After a two-year pause due to the COVID pandemic, the annual For Women in Science International Week returned this week, and Professor Heard joined her fellow 2020 laureates and the 2021 and 2022 cohorts for a series of events celebrating these outstanding researchers and their contributions.

Prof. Heard accepted the award, saying:

“It is a huge honour to have been awarded the International L’Oréal-UNESCO Award For Women in Science. I am deeply grateful to all the many inspiring people who have supported me and worked with me throughout my career.

My work over the decades, on a process that is essential for female development, the epigenetic silencing of one of the two X chromosomes, has taken me to many areas of biology and allowed me to form a large network of colleagues.

My greatest pride comes from the people I have trained and worked with – every one of them has taught me what it is to be a scientist. This prize is a recognition and a testament to their trust, inspiration, and continued collaboration.

As a fervent believer in science without frontiers, and as a committed European of British and Greek origin having carried out most of my career in France, and now in Germany, I am especially honored to have been chosen as the European laureate. My strong belief in Europe led me to my current position as Director General of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, the flagship organisation for life sciences research in Europe.

My commitment to science, curiosity-driven research, and its impact on society also led me to become Professor at the Collège de France. I feel very lucky to have been offered these responsibilities and I hope they will help other women take on such roles.

This prize is dedicated to all those young girls and women who would like to explore the beautiful science of life and make the world a better place through the quest for knowledge and truth. I hope that my work will encourage them.

On a final, more personal note, none of my success would have been possible without my partner in life, who has been my greatest inspiration, with his care and his love of life, and the father of my children – our most precious experiment!”

The 15 Laureates from 2020-2021-2022. ©Fondation L’Oréal

Tags: award, director general, heard, unesco, women in science


Looking for past print editions of EMBLetc.? Browse our archive, going back 20 years.

EMBLetc. archive

Newsletter archive

Read past editions of our e-newsletter

For press

Contact the Press Office