Crop Biotech Update

Filipina Biochemist, First ASEAN L'oréal-UNESCO Science Awardee

April 8, 2010

Filipina biochemist, first ASEAN L'oréal-UNESCO Science Awardee National Scientist Dr. Lourdes Jansuy Cruz, a biochemist from the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines Diliman, is the first Filipino and the first recipient from the ASEAN region to be honored as one of the five laureates of the prestigious L'oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. Out of nearly a thousand nominees worldwide, Dr. Cruz was selected and recognized by a jury led by Nobel Prize winner Gunter Blobel for her pioneering research on Conotoxins, toxins from marine snails that led to the development of non-addictive morphine.

Three decades ago, she worked in collaboration with Dr. Baldomero Olivera of the University of Utah for the isolation and characterization of peptides from the venom of Conus, a marine snail found in the Philippines. One of these peptides was developed by the U.S. biotechnology firm Cognetix Corporation in producing the Prialt Ziconotodine, a non-addictive alternative drug to morphine. Nowadays, conotoxins are used by scientists as biochemical probes to investigate the activity of the human brain. Dr. Cruz, together with the other four laureates, received $100,000 each and was conferred in the awarding ceremony held last March at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The prestigious award is given annually to women in science (one exceptional female scientist per continent), who contributed to scientific advancement in the field of Life Sciences.

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