Working to improve women's health

Marine Adlanmerini is a PhD student in Biology at the "Institut des Maladies Métaboliques et Cardiovasculaires" (Institute for Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disease) in Toulouse. Her research aims to understand and model the functioning of oestrogen receptors to develop contraception strategies, menopause treatments, and help in the fight against certain cancers. The president of the "Institut des Maladies Métaboliques et Cardiovasculaire" commented, "this work may have an important clinical impact for the treatment of women's health". Marine tells DiscovHER all about her work, her passions and the link between science and creativity!

Do you have a dream? A sort of miracle that science can achieve?

I think we all dreamt when we were younger of curing cancer and saving lives, but today a dream that is still realistic for me and which is linked to my research is to improve the condition of women's lives in each stage of life.

What are the short-term and long-term challenges of your research and its application?

I am working on the oestrogen receptor, involved in reproduction, as well as metabolism and cardio-vascular physiology, for example. This receptor has already been much studied as a nuclear receptor (in the cell nucleus) but it turns out that it can also have membrane localisation and signalling that is crucial for certain oestrogen roles such as fertility or vascular effects. The challenges of my research are, in the short term, to understand the physiological role of this new localisation of the oestrogen receptor, which is still rarely studied given its importance. In the long term, I hope that my research will contribute to the understanding of the role of this membrane localisation in certain illnesses and thus to treatment, especially for menopause or hormone-dependent cancers like breast cancer.

What do you particularly like about your job?

Basically, research professions all share the qualities that I am passionate about: thinking, questioning, challenging our knowledge and our ways of thinking to further our knowledge and understanding. More specifically, the job of a researcher has the particularity of being very diverse in its functions, so that no day is ever the same: our job consists of experimental creation and completion of research projects and also teaching and communicating. Communication is very important, as much communicating the advancement of our research as communicating our passion to future generations.

Creativity and science: what do these two words mean to you?

These two words are almost indissociable. Advancing science requires creativity and an open mind to new ideas, new concepts and new ways of thinking. On the other hand, I am not sure that creativity fundamentally needs science to advance, but you cannot deny that technological advancements do not open the way for new creative possibilities.

Why do you think there are so few women working in science in France?

I think that this trend is being inverted, at least in biology, where even though there are more women, the director-level jobs (team leaders, platform managers, centre managers, etc.) are still too often reserved for men. The problem is the same as for any long career, that women have to juggle it with their family life. Also, more specifically for the sciences, it is true that it is a discipline that traditionally was reserved for men. You have to remember that women were only allowed to study medicine at the end of the 19th century and that it was only in 1979 that the first woman was elected to the Académie des Sciences in France! 

Marine Adlanmerini received a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Fellowship in 2014.

For Women in Science

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