Hu Hailan Wins 2022 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science Award

For her research on the neurobiology of depression, Professor Hu Hailan was named among the five 2022 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science awardees.

AsianScientist (Oct. 11, 2021) — Professor Hu Hailan from China’s Zhejiang University is honored with the 2022 For Women In Science International Award. L’Oréal and UNESCO recognized Hu and four other laureates in an online announcement last October 1, 2021.

Effective science relies on the inclusion of diverse talents as it makes strides in solving pressing societal challenges. To this end, the annual L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science program celebrates eminent women scientists, increasing their visibility and inspiring the next generation to see a future for themselves in STEM.

Besides championing women in STEM, the accolades are also a testament to global capabilities. Each year, an independent jury comprised of prominent members from the scientific community select a laureate from each of the major regions around the globe.

On the program’s 24th edition, Hu was distinguished as the Laureate for Asia and the Pacific for her groundbreaking research on the underlying neurobiology of mental health disorders like depression. With October 10 marking World Mental Health Day, the award helps highlight the value of neuroscience research for fostering better mental well-being and supporting the 280 million people living with depression globally.

Among her most prominent works involve a brain region called the lateral habenula. In studying this brain area, Hu mapped the cellular components that regulate and drive up depressive effects and showed how a medication called ketamine relieves these symptoms.

By deciphering these mechanisms, her endeavors have become the foundation for better understanding how physiological changes manifest as social and emotional behavior. Hu’s pioneering research also paved the way for developing drugs to address these mental illnesses.

Other laureates recognized this year are Professor Maria Guadalupe Guzmán Tirado of the Pedro Kouri Institute in Cuba; Professor Katalin Karikó from the University of Pennsylvania in the US; Professor Agnès Binagwaho from Global Health Equity University in Rwanda; and Professor Ángela Nieto of the Institute of Neurosciences in Spain.

Since 1988, the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women In Science program has honored over 120 laureates and 3,800 young scientists, doctoral students and post-doctoral fellows—supporting women to continue advancing their careers in STEM.


Source: Fondation L’Oréal; Illustration: Ajun Chuah/Asian Scientist Magazine.
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