Yesterday they dreamed, today they lead

In the run-up to the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we talk to Anna Abbadessa, a researcher in the area of pharmaceutical technology at CiMUS, Santiago de Compostela, who shares with us her thoughts on female leadership in science.

08 February 2024

In the run-up to the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we talk to Anna Abbadessa, a researcher in the area of pharmaceutical technology at CiMUS, Santiago de Compostela, who shares with us her thoughts on female leadership in science.

This article is an adaptation of an article published in Galicia Confidencial: link.

Encouraging signs of a narrowing gender gap

«In the past, some women were forced to forego having children or postpone it until later in life in order to achieve leadership roles. Fortunately, today I've noticed a significant increase in the presence of women in management positions, which is an encouraging sign that the gender gap is narrowing» says Anna. «This trend fills me with hope, as it indicates that women's talents and skills are being recognised as they deserve» she adds. Anna also highlights the importance of initiatives and policies that promote equal opportunities, such as calls for research projects that evaluate performance without penalising maternity leave.

Anna is a reflection of the many women who are increasingly spearheading their own line of research.  Since 2022, with the support of a "la Caixa" Foundation Junior Leader postdoctoral fellowship, Anna has been leading a team of scientists to discover a new therapy to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide. 

Conventional treatment for this disease involves repeated injections into the eye, which is both costly and very unpleasant for the patient. With the new therapy that Anna is developing, in the future it could be possible to treat this disease with a single injection, delaying ageing and increasing the autonomy of those affected. Moreover, this innovative therapy would not only reduce the associated financial costs in public and private health care but would also represent a significant advance in terms of patient comfort.


Anna Abbadessa, researcher in the field of pharmaceutical technology at CiMUS, Santiago de Compostela. Photo credit: Carmen Barros (CiMUS).

It was Anna's experience in the field of chronic diseases that led her to become interested in the topic that now occupies much of her work. «In a world where life expectancy has increased so much, it's essential to invest in healthy active ageing so that people can enjoy life to the full» she says. 

But Anna believes that being a leader goes beyond the confines of the lab. She stresses the importance of disseminating the results of research in society. «Fostering people's curiosity and critical capacity not only contributes towards their intellectual development but also the advancement of science» she notes.

«To achieve this, it's crucial to pass on tried and tested information, avoiding technical language and using images and everyday examples. Platforms such as social media can be fundamental in order to reach young people, particularly because they're the 'researchers of the future' and can feel inspired. By showing them our passion, we can motivate them to follow in our footsteps and become the next generation of scientists and, above all, female scientists».


 

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