04.10.2019 - MTD/PC

A new Uruguayan woman researcher awarded the national UNESCO-L'OREAL Prize

Last September 19, Dr. Mónica Sans Afamado, a researcher at the Department of Biological Anthropology of the Faculty of Humanities and Educational Sciences of the University of the Republic (UDELAR) of Uruguay, was awarded with the national prize L'OREAL- UNESCO.

Upon graduating from high school, in 1974, Monica Sans could not enter the Faculty of Medicine because it was closed that year. Therefore, she chose to start the veterinary career. It was then that she had her first contact with genetics. The following year she changed her mind and wanted to do chemistry; however, she quickly realized that it was not for her and quitted.

Her father told her that the Anthropology career was openning at the Faculty of Sciences and Humanities. In the second year, she studied physical anthropology - today biological anthropology - and found her vocation. After that, she entered the Basic Science Development Programme (Pedeciba) and for a while she was the only person on her team.

Today is the reference in biological anthropology of Uruguay.

The project for which she was distinguished is entitled: "Phylogeography of Y chromosomes for the understanding the origin and relations of the indigenous people of Uruguay and their descendants", which aims to contribute to the knowledge of the prehistoric and historical settlement of the El Plata Basin, establishing phylogeographic relationships and the age of common ancestors.

So far, she worked on maternal DNA. The project to be financed by L´Oréal will extend the research to the paternal inheritance, with its peculiar characteristics and inherent complexity.

The results of the study aim to revalue the knowledge of indigenous people, to know about migration routes as well as relationships with other populations in the region. It also supports the effects of knowing about pathologies or diseases that may come from ancestors, especially taking into account that there are already studies that show that 34% of the Uruguayan population has at least one indigenous ancestor.

The prize is endowed with US $ 20,000 (twenty thousand US dollars) to contribute for a maximum period of two years to the execution of a project led by a Uruguayan woman scientist, thus supporting her scientific career and research projects.

The objective of the Prize is to consolidate the female role in the conception of scientific solutions to the problems of the national reality and of humanity as a whole.

Meet Dr. Monica Sans Famed here.

<- Back to: UNESCO Office in Montevideo
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