L’Oréal joined forces with UNESCO 17 years ago to form a programme to encourage greater participation of women in science. The fellowship programmes, which run all over the world, promote and reward outstanding female postdoctoral researchers, offering flexible financial help.
Each worth £15,000, the fellowship can be spent on whatever they need to help drive their research forward. This year, the five winners will be using their prize money for a range of support such as buying equipment, carrying out field trips, attending conferences, getting help in their labs, as well as covering childcare costs. The fellows will also benefit from media training, personal impact coaching, speaking opportunities, networking events and access to senior mentors and role models.
The competition was extremely tough with a record 350 candidates applying for the five fellowships. The winners were selected by a jury of eminent scientists and announced at a ceremony at the Royal Society.
Dr Jagannath's work is all about 'Setting the body clock'. All organisms display 24-hour rhythms in physiology and behaviour, as can be seen in the sleep-wake cycle, but also including rhythms in blood pressure, body temperature and even cognitive ability. These rhythms are driven by a circadian clock (body clock) that is a molecular pacemaker occurring in most cells throughout the body.
We understand the molecular mechanisms that generate circadian clocks, but we have very little idea of how this clock is set to the correct time. Dr Jagannath proposes to use cellular models of the clock to identify the signalling pathways that relay environmental information to the clock. She will do this by testing a range of drugs and biological molecules for their ability to modify the clock and follow through with studies to identify the mechanism by which these molecules have their effect.
Sleep and circadian rhythm disruption is endemic to our 24/7 societies and we are now discovering that disruption of the clock can lead to obesity, diabetes and even mental health disorders such as bipolar disease. As a result, there is to be much gained from understanding how the molecular clock is regulated, and by extension, how we may be able to modulate its function when disrupted.