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DRWF Research: Inspiring and engaging women and girls in science

DRWF Research: Inspiring and engaging women and girls in science

This Saturday, 11th February, is being recognised as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2017.

Published: Feb 10, 2017
Category: Research

DRWF is proud to fund a number of female scientists across the country as they conduct research into possible future diabetes treatments.

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is held to recognise the effort the global community has made in inspiring and engaging women and girls in science over the last 15 years.

Dr Eleanor Kennedy, DRWF Research Manager, said: “International Day of Woman and Girls in Science is a fantastic opportunity for us to reflect on the work that women do in this field. From Marie Curie to Rosalind Franklin and Dorothy Hodgkin, female scientists have made enormous contributions to our current knowledge of medicine over the years and DRWF is proud to continue to support many top women scientists and clinicians in their research to keep this proud tradition thriving.”

“Science is for everyone and those motivated to pursue a scientific career should be able to, regardless of gender, age or background” – DRWF-funded researcher Jody Ye

Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aimed at fighting inequalities globally.

According to a study conducted in 14 countries, women and girls continued to be excluded from participating fully in science. The study found that the probability for female students of graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and Doctor’s degree in science-related field are 18%, 8% and 2% respectively, while the percentages of male students are 37%, 18% and 6%.

The United Nations General Assembly declared the International Day of Women and Girls in Science in order to achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls, and further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

DRWF researchers keep a proud tradition thriving


Five DRWF-funded researchers explain how this funding has helped them develop their research projects and take the next step in their careers:

Dr Jessica Tyrell, Research Fellow, University of Exeter Medical School

In 2014 I was awarded a DRWF Non-Clinical Fellowship to investigate factors that can lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity using the UK Biobank study - a study of 500,000 people, looking at risk factors for type 2 diabetes including lifestyle, health and genetics. My research is helping us understand the causes of type 2 diabetes and investigate if the environment interacts with the genes that can lead people to become obese, and increase the genetic risk.

Thanks to the DRWF funding I have been able to focus on my research, establishing myself as an expert in genetic epidemiology of type 2 diabetes and obesity. I am very much looking forward to furthering my career in this field. The DRWF fellowship has provided the perfect springboard for a successful independent academic career.

Dr Jody Ye, Junior Research Fellow, University of Bristol

I am so grateful to DRWF for funding my research. This means so much to me. This fellowship is the first step to a career as an independent scientist. I have been given a precious opportunity to explore what I am passionate about and collaborate with like-minded scientists worldwide. I have wanted to be a research scientist since I was a teenager and always worked hard towards this goal.

Science is for everyone and those motivated to pursue a scientific career should be able to, regardless of gender, age or background. My project is exciting, but challenging. Moving forward, I would like to use this training as a springboard to setting up my own research laboratory to train the scientists of the future with the ultimate aim of making type 1 diabetes a condition of the past.

Dr Sarah Richardson, Lecturer in Biomedical Sciences (Education and Research), Islet Biology Exeter (IBEx), University of Exeter

My DRWF Non-Clinical Research Fellowship (2010-2013) has had a massive impact on my research and my personal career progression. The studies undertaken during my fellowship were a significant stepping stone towards unravelling the role that viruses may play in the development of type 1 diabetes. It also positioned me to receive further major, highly competitive, international funding to continue this work and helped provide a critical impetus to other relevant scientists around the world. These colleagues joined forces to expand our understanding of how these viruses could be triggering disease in genetically susceptible individuals.

This work is moving forward with ever increasing momentum and is attracting growing interest from other major funders and from pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Maria João Lima, Research Fellow, University of Edinburgh

My research is driven towards finding a better treatment for type 1 diabetes. During my earlier studies I have developed a method to obtain pancreatic islets for transplantation, which is currently limited by the limited availability of donor islets. The award of the DRWF Non-Clinical Research Fellowship is allowing me to develop my skills in cutting edge methodologies to better study this alternative source of islets.

This award is fundamental to strengthen my expertise in regenerative medicine and further my career as an expert in cell therapy for diabetes. The fellowship represents an important milestone towards achieving my goal of generating cells that very closely resemble the islets in the adult pancreas, to be used in the future to increase the number of people with diabetes that could benefit from an islet transplant.

Dr Shivani Misra, Honorary Clinical Research Fellow, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London

I was awarded a Sutherland-Earl Clinical Research Fellowship from DRWF to undertake a PhD looking for genetic forms of diabetes (MODY, or maturity onset diabetes of the young) in people from different ethnic groups. That initial funding was critical. Using it, I was able to take time out from my clinical job and, with support, set up a multi-centre study recruiting all over the country. I am now getting novel and exciting results that are impactful for people with diabetes, so it is pleasing to see those initial ideas coming to fruition.

The DRWF funding also gave me time to think about research avenues I wish to pursue and allowed my academic career to flourish. I have had so many positive experiences and interactions because of it. Being a clinical academic is challenging at times, but I love what I do and am now applying for fellowships to allow me to continue my research in this area. I am so grateful to the DRWF for giving me that initial chance. I now have an exciting area in diabetes research to pursue, none of which would have been possible without their support.

Find out more about the International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2017 at:

Category: Research