Two Women Researchers Awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation recently announced the winners of the 2024 Breakthrough Prizes. The Breakthrough Prize popularly known as the “Oscars of Science” was created to celebrate the wonders of our scientific age by founding sponsors Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Julia and Yuri Milner, and Anne Wojcicki.

Two women scholars are sharing the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences with their colleagues.

Sabine Hadida, senior vice president of Vetex Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, and her colleagues invented the first effective medicines to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis. This deadly disease of the lungs and other organs is caused by a protein that can’t do its job of allowing ions in and out of cells. These researchers discovered four medicines, the latest of which is a triple combination medicine, that enables the protein to function, greatly improving quality of life and length of life for people with this disease. Dr. Hadida earned a Ph.D. in pharmacology at the University of Barcelona.

Ellen Sidransky and colleagues discovered the most common genetic causes of Parkinson’s Disease. Dr. Sidransky identified mutations to the gene GBA1, which encodes an enzyme that breaks down fatty substances in cells, as a genetic risk factor for Parkinson’s Disease. Dr. Sidransky is a pediatrician and clinical geneticist in the Medical Genetics Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Dr. Sidransky graduated magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She earned her medical at Tulane University in New Orleans.

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