Career News

Award Inspired by Suffragettes for Lori Passmore

30.3.2016 | To honour her major contribution to science, Dr. Lori Passmore received the 'Suffrage Science Scheme Award' this month. Passmore is one of eleven female scientists chosen for their scientific achievements, and their ability to inspire others.
Dr. Lori Passmore
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Dr. Lori Passmore
Lori Passmore's research studies how the proteins inside our body's cells can come together to form complexes. Her group explores the roles that these complexes play in controlling the expression of genes, and how faulty gene expression can contribute to diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders. Using electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM), X-ray crystallography and other techniques, she is determining the structures of these multi-protein complexes and researching their molecular mechanisms, activities and regulation.

Passmore is also developing new methods with cryo-EM to help determine protein structure, including the development of new specimen grids made of pure gold, that improve the quality of cryo-EM images and allow scientists to unravel the details of how complex biological machines inside cells work. Passmore has been a group leader at LMB since 2009. She came to the LMB in 2004 as a Career Development Fellow after completing her PhD at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. Originally from Canada, she studied biochemistry at the University of British Columbia. She was awarded a prestigious European Research Council grant in 2011 and an EMBO Young Investigator Programme Award in 2011.

The Suffrage Science Scheme was set up five years ago by the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre. It is a unique awards scheme aimed at raising the numbers of women in senior leadership roles in science. The awards are heirloom items of jewellery, similar to those worn by the Suffragettes, which were designed by art and design students at Central St Martins, and passed from awardee to awardee each year.

The Suffrage Science scheme celebrates women already in science and encourages others to enter scientific subjects, and to stay. Dr. Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and long-standing supporter of the scheme, joined a panel discussion during the award ceremony at the Royal Society in London on March 8. She said that "women scientists can put their mark on the world in a new way that affects change in a more gendered way. If we only have scientists who are men it's a particular eye on the world that gets changed. If we have women scientists involved, then their engagement in that relationship between science and humanity is to the benefit of us all."

Since last years awardees get to chose the new recipients, an ever-expanding cohort of talented women with a connection is created, in order to encourage others to enter science and reach senior leadership roles. Lori Passmore was nominated by Professor Shannon Au from the University of Hong Kong. The awards are sponsored by L'Oreal-UNESCO For Women in Science scheme and The Royal Society. Passmore is the second LMB recipient of this award, following Sarah Teichmann who received it in 2012.
  (© MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, MRC Clinical Sciences Centre)

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