To mark International Day of Women and Girls, we are sharing some inspiring messages from women in MS research. Women only make up about 30% of the world’s researchers, and there is limited female representation at senior levels of MS research. It’s time to address the gender imbalance and increase the visibility of women. We got in touch with some of the researchers who won a Du Pré grant or McDonald Fellowship. Find out what they have to say about being a woman in science.

‘We can only change the path by walking it’

Dr. Carolina de Medeiros Rimkus is a medical doctor and neuroscientist from Brazil. In 2021 she was awarded with a MSIF-ECTRIMS McDonald fellowship to join Dr. Menno M Schoonheim’s group at the Amsterdam University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Together, they are investigating ‘MRI and brain network fingerprints of cognitive profiles in multiple sclerosis’. This Fellowship is sponsored by our partner ECTRIMS, the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS).

Dr. Rimkus says ‘women still have to work much harder than men to gain respect in science….but we can only change the path by walking it.’ Watch this video from Dr. Rimkus to learn about the challenges facing female scientists in Brazil, and her hopes for a more equal society.

‘We can work shoulder to shoulder and progress all together’

Dr. Evelin Heck from Argentina was awarded a McDonald Fellowship last year, and travelled to Boston to work alongside Professor Francisco Quintana at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Her research in the Quintana Lab is currently focused on the mechanisms by which the environment contributes to MS development and progression.

Read Dr. Heck’s statement about women in science, and how she has dedicated her life to doing what she loves.

  ‘A lot of women in science, like in other professions, have troubles associated with family matters such as maternity leave and the time that they take. In my country it is very common to be woman in science, in fact there may be more women than men working in this area. But if we look at the statistics, more women work at a lower level as technicians, assistant researchers or fellows, while there are more men working in more senior research roles.

I strongly believe that nowadays, we should not face any problems because of our gender. As a young researcher, I hope to motivate more women to investigate, and to establish collaborations with other researchers in Latin America and across the world. Because we can make true progress by working together.

I feel very lucky because I have the opportunity to dedicate my life to science, which is what I love to do. I invite girls and women all around the world to do what they love. Together we can demonstrate that we are equally as capable as men. We can work shoulder to shoulder and progress all together, independently of our gender.’

‘We will build an equal world in science’

Dr. Daissy Liliana Mora Cuervo is a neurologist and neuroscience PhD student from Brazil. She was awarded a MSIF Du Pré grant in 2021 to join Professor Paul Friedemann at Charité Universitätsmedizin in Berlin, Germany.

Dr. Cuervo wants to encourage women and girls to believe that it’s possible to be a scientist. She says ‘I know we will face some challenges, but [by] working together, trusting in our capacities and knowledge, we will build an equal world in science.’

Watch her inspiring message to women and girls around the world.

‘I hope the future will allow more female scientists to reach their full potential’

Dr. Sara Salama is a neuroimmunologist from Egypt, who was awarded a MSIF-ARSEP McDonald Fellowship in 2021. With her McDonald Fellowship, Dr. Salama is traveling to UCL to work with Professor Ahmed Toosy on a project titled ‘Longitudinal OCT-MRI correlations in MS – A multi-center IMSVISUAL international collaborative project’. This Fellowship is sponsored by our partner, ARSEP, the Fondation d’Aide pour la Recherche sur la Sclerose en Plaques (ARSEP).

Dr Salama shares her hope for the future of women in science in this inspiring message.

‘I believe women can achieve great potential when given the opportunity. Despite the many challenges female scientists face in their work environment, many leave their footprint in their respective fields. I consider myself lucky to have met great inspiring mentors in my field, who shaped my career path and set great examples to follow. I hope the future will allow more female scientists to reach their full potential, have fair work opportunities and achieve work life balance.’


Apply to the 2023 MSIF Grants and Fellowships

These are just some of the incredible women working to create more gender equality in MS research. Have these powerful statements left you feeling inspired? Applications are now open for the 2023 Du Pré Grants and McDonald Fellowships. Find out how to apply hereThe deadline is 30 June 2023.

We are very grateful to our partner organisations the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS (ECTRIMS) and l’Aide à la Recherche sur la Sclérose En Plaques (ARSEP).