MANILA, Philippines – A retired Filipina marine scientist was one of five women scientists to receive a prestigious international award.
A report from abs-cbn online said that Professor Lourdes Cruz was the only awardee from the Asia-Pacific among the five scientists honored with the prestigious 12th Annual L’Oreal-UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) awards for women in science at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
Cruz was recognized for developing and converting toxins emanating from marine snails and sea shells into drugs used as painkiller for those afflicted with cancer, epilepsy and brain disorder.
Before her retirement last year, Cruz was a bio-chemist at the University of the Philippines Marine Institute. She received masters and doctorate degrees in biochemistry from the University of Iowa.
The other four awardees are from the United States, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Arab states.
Cruz was also cited for actively helping indigenous tribes, particularly the Aetas in Bataan province.
Cruz shares her vast knowledge in science with rural communities by mobilizing livelihood projects and education which conform with their cultural norm.
The 18-member awards jury was headed by Gunter Blobel, 1999 Nobel Prize winner for medicine.
Cruz thinks more Filipinos, even women, can excel in science if the Philippine government will do its share in the development of science and technology.
She laments that the budget allocation for science and technology does not even reach 1 percent of the entire budget.
Cruz will use her $100,000 award to buy a piece of land to serve as a new base for her rural livelihood laboratory for the Aetas in an effort to preserve and tap into their vast knowledge of traditional medicine. –Philippine Star