Young female Japanese researchers encouraged by Curie Award

An award honoring young female researchers was presented in Tokyo on Tuesday. It is designed to support them in career building on the global stage by highlighting their activities.

The Japan Science and Technology Agency, or JST, and the Embassy of Poland in Tokyo established the "Marie Sklodowska Curie Award" in 2021. It was created in tribute to the first female Nobel laureate from Poland.

A ceremony at the embassy on Tuesday honored this year's winners. The top prize went to Ichikawa Saki, a post-doctoral fellow in chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University.

Ichikawa has been using chemical methods to study the mechanisms of diseases and how drugs work.

She was recognized for the potential of her study of effective treatments for cancer and other diseases, and applications for the development of medicines with no side effects.

A Japanese government survey shows women accounted for 17.5 percent of Japanese researchers as of 2020. The ratio has been on the rise, but it is still lower than the figure of 30 percent or more in other countries.

JST says female researchers face challenges such as suspended careers due to life events like childbirth and marriage.

Ichikawa said it is encouraging to be granted a high-profile award even though she was not an independent researcher. She vowed to continue working hard.