|Deputy PM Vũ Đức Đam (left) congratulates Assoc. Prof. Dr. Trần Vân Khánh and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Đinh Thị Bích Lân at the Kovalevskaya award ceremony. — VNA/VNS Photo Phương Hoa|Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI – Two leading female scientists, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Trần Vân Khánh and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Đinh Thị Bích Lân, received the Kovalevskaya Award yesterday for their contributions to science and society.
A study on gene therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) by Khánh, which supports the prenatal diagnosis of DMD to prevent genetic disorders, earned her the prestigious award.
Khánh, born in 1973, is head of the Faculty of Molecular Pathology and Deputy Director of the Gene-Protein Research Centre under the Hanoi Medical University. She has attained several achievements in research on gene therapy and prenatal diagnosis of genetic diseases.
The results of her study on gene therapy for DMD won high praise from the Ministry of Science and Technology and were also publicised in foreign science magazines.
To date, her genetic therapy has been carried out on 1,000 patients and their family members to help detect people who carry the genetic diseases and avoid high-risk pregnancies.
DMD is the most common fatal genetic disease that affects approximately one in every 3,500 new-born boys. A steady decline in muscle strength occurs between the ages of 6 and 11, and by 12 years old many children are confined to a wheelchair. People with Duchenne have shorter lives, with most will not survive past the age of 20 due to heart and breathing problems.
Another similar research on Hemophilia A, a genetic deficiency which causes increased bleeding commonly observed among males, is being conducted by Khánh and her team. Not only has their scientific work brought hope to many families with genetic disorders, it will significantly reduce the cost of treatment and procedures. Families who reportedly had to spend up to US$25,000 abroad would have access to the same treatment in domestic hospitals for as low as a third of the amount.
Another winner of the prestigious award this year is Assoc. Prof. Dr. Đinh Thị Bích Lân, a lecturer from central Huế University’s biotechnology department.
Lân’s work has resulted in the creation of vaccines that can prevent a number of diseases including Toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by parasitic alveolate commonly found among livestock, that may cause miscarriages and hydrocephalus in humans. Lân’s quick test kits also have proven to be an affordable and effective disease diagnosis on the ground, which can be used by anyone.
The Kovalevskaya Award is an annual ceremony to honour the most outstanding female scientists who have gained remarkable achievements in the research and application of science.
The prestigious prize is named after the Russian female mathematician, Sofia Kovalevskaya, and is awarded by the fund of the same name. The fund operates in eight countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. — VNS