Two young women scientists received NIS 50,000 research scholarships on Tuesday night as part of the local competition for the L’Oréal-UNESCO program for Women in Science, which has been functioning annually for 15 years.

Five Israeli women have received the prize in the international competition – three of them in the past three years, making Israel a “powerhouse” in the field.

Natali Zeituni and Edith Naor each received the local prize and will be candidates for the international prize.

Zeituni, a Ben-Gurion University of the Negev scientist in structural biology, is doing important research on disease-producing bacteria, especially on tuberculosis. She will go to the University of British Columbia in Canada to conduct her research.

Naor of Tel Aviv University is studying toxoplasma parasites and their ability to infect any warm-blooded animal.

She will conduct her research at Stanford University in the US.

Among the judges in the local race were Israel Prize laureate and Israel Academy of the Sciences president Prof. Ruth Arnon (also a former L’Oréal- UNESCO winner) and Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate Prof. Ada Yonath.

The ceremony was attended by French Ambassador Christophe Bigot, Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri and Nava Ravid, CEO of L’Oréal-Israel.

Peri said that “encouraging women to conduct scientific research is a global and business challenge” and represents a major national and social interest for Israel. Ravid added that “scientists are curious by nature, search for the truth and try to separate fact from fiction.

Anyone who can meet these criteria can work in science, whether it is a man or a woman. Everything else is popular mythology. The triangle of L’Oréal, science and women is a winning combination that cannot be divided.”

L’Oréal is a global company in the field of cosmetics that operates out of 130 countries, including Israel. UNESCO is a UN organization to promote education, science and culture worldwide.

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