“Diversity sets us free”: Carolyn Bertozzi wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Written in EVA’S HIP the

Carolyn Ruth Bertozzilesbian woman, mother, wife and chemist has dedicated her life for thirty years, yes, to bioorthogonal science/immunology but she has also fought since the late eighties to generate more inclusive spaces in an area that, historically, has been occupied by mens.

On December 10, Carolyn would receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contribution to bioorthogonal chemistry, which is defined as a class of reactions that explore cells in a non-aggressive way and allows obtaining a result on the state of the molecules. With this result, it is possible to orient pharmaceutical products in a more accurate; A whole watershed to treat some types of cancer with greater precision in the future in a more friendly way with the system.

During her speech, the chemist not only thanked her work team and her family, but also recognized how important it was for her to function in an inclusive space, since this allowed her to go against all those archaic rules of science laboratories. where the masculine gender prevails.

“You start to feel like you don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else. While others thought it was crazy to do chemistry in living things, my group said: ‘we are different, let’s do it differently’. Diversity gave us freedom”, acknowledged the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

With this, Carolyn She pointed out that her success in this very sexist area is due to her own diversity: “I don’t know if I would be sitting here if it weren’t for that” and also, she was grateful for having been able to work since the nineties with women that gave him a different perspective to conceive the science; a revolution of thought and action.

The representation of women in spaces that historically we “should” and “cannot” occupy is essential to open paths and Carolyn He is very clear about it, because with irony, he commented that in a perfect world nobody should care about your orientation or your gender, however, we do not live in that world of perfection but in one of constant discrimination attributed to cultural, social and historical reasons.

“If I had been born in another part of the world, everything would have been different because there are places where, simply because they are lesbian I wouldn’t be safe. To the extent that people live in places where they are persecuted and look for a reason to hope (…) if I can be someone who gives them that hope, I would feel very happy ”, he concludes for EFE.

The women in the Nobel Prizes in Sciences

In Physiology and Medicine, Svante Paabo took the prize for his discoveries on extinct hominids; Katalin Karikó competed in the same category for being the pioneer of messenger RNA vaccines (incitement to generate defenses against unknown infections) that saved millions of lives during the COVID-19 pandemic; she did not receive the award.

In Physics, all three awards were won by male scientists. Finally, the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was announced, where the work of Carolyn Ruth Bertozzi and his two companions, Morten Meldal and Barry Sharpless.

The specialized magazine Mujeres con Ciencia called the scarcity of award-winning women and noted that the recognition of Carolyn It represented excellent news for the scientists who are resisting in this sector; the value of the representation.

Carolynis the eighth woman in the history of Nobel Prizes in Chemistry to receive this award and joins the list made up as follows.

  1. Marie Curie (1911)
  2. Irène Joliot-Curie (1935)
  3. Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1964)
  4. Ada Yonath (2009)
  5. Frances Arnold (2018)
  6. Jennifer Doudna (2020)
  7. Emmanuelle Charpentier (2020)
  8. Carolyn Ruth Bertozzi (2022)

Finally, here are some overwhelming data that remind us that science, in the 21st century, continues to be a field where the gender gap is prevailing.

  • Nobel Prize in Physics: 4 women of 222 people awarded
  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry: 8 women of 189 people awarded
  • Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology: 12 women of 225 people awarded

The women in science they exist and resist in anonymity. On this line, it is prudent to remember Yvonne Barr, who discovered the relationship of the herpes virus with lymphatic cancer, however, her work was scorned by the scientific community and she was unable to get a permanent job (in the words of her husband). , so she decided to return to her hometown to become a chemistry teacher; she died four years ago and her name still seems unknown, despite the fact that 95% of humans have a virus in honor of her last name: Barr. Like Barr, there are hundreds of women they discovered, were forgotten, excluded and outraged in the history of the science so spread the word Carolyn it is a symbol of struggle and yes, as she commented, also of hope for future generations.

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“Diversity sets us free”: Carolyn Bertozzi wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry