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Spotlight on Women in Life Sciences

On International Women’s Day we like to highlight some of the many inspiring women in life science that we have had the opportunity to meet and interview.



Bahija Jallal


I definitely think it’s important for women in life science to have role models. I have always had mentors and tried to pay that forward by being mentors for others, both men and women.”

Bahija Jallal’s curiosity and passion for science have been strong driving forces throughout her entire career, as has her belief in the need for diversity to truly bring forth innovation.

Read the interview with Bahija Jallal here!



May-Britt Moser

May-Britt Moser

In an annual tradition, all the 2014 Nobel Prize winners signed chairs and with hers, May-Britt Moser wrote “Passion for mysteries.”

On 6 October 2014, the Nobel Committee awarded Professors May-Britt and Edvard Moser the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Read the interview with May-Britt Moser here!



Sara Mangsbo

Sara Mangsbo Photo Mikael Wallerstedt

I hope I can see that my work brings something to patients. I want to maintain that energy to bring innovation to people.”

An academic and an entrepreneur, Dr. Sara Mangsbo, PhD, has found a way to integrate her skills and interests so that they complement and augment her passions. Read the interview with Sara Mangsbo here!



Donna Strickland

Donna Strickland Photo Alexander Mahmoud

There is a sense of change that is happening for women in science and there’s been a lot of work to get that change.”

Science has always been a driving force in Donna Strickland’s life. From the moment she discovered the world of laser physics, she’s been entranced by all the possibilities lasers represent for research, science and medicine.

Read the interview with Donna Strickland here!



Britt Meelby Jensen

Britt Meelby Jensen Photo J Westley

I think there is still a lot of unconscious bias when recruiting people, and that many companies should update practices and criteria for promotions.”

She has been called the Danish biotech queen and she is not afraid of responsibility in her role as CEO. On the contrary, Britt Meelby Jensen enjoys leading, setting ambitious goals and accelerating company growth.

Read the interview with Britt Meelby Jensen here!



Anna-Leena Saarela

I see it as a privilege to be able to work in the front line of the fast developing pharmacovigilance environment.”

Anna-Leena Saarela is an expert in pharmacovigilance and she sees it as a privilege to work in the front line of this fast developing environment for the benefit of patient safety. Read the interview with Anna-Leena here!



Malin Parkler

Define how to make a difference, find a voice and make it heard, and speak about the things that you believe matter and where they can matter.”

Malin Parkler, CEO of Pfizer Sweden, is driven by curiosity and a passion to build knowledge and evolve the life science industry – with the ultimate goal to yield real benefits for patients.

Read the interview with Malin Parkler here!



Mariana Dalarsson

Mariana Dalarsson Photo Karl Nordlund

Therefore my advice to girls and young women is to ignore stereotypes and fight to retain their curiosity, imagination and creativity.”

Mariana Dalarsson, a L’Oréal-Unesco For Women in Science in Sweden 2021 award recipient, has an interdisciplinary approach to fighting cancer. Read the interview with Mariana Dalarsson here!



Dorte X. Gram

Dorte X Gram

You have to know your goal and then to plan backwards. Then it’s no longer ‘how’ but ‘when’ you achieve your goal.”

After ten years of diabetes research and development at Novo Nordisk, Dorte X. Gram took her findings and work further to start something on her own. Read the interview with Dorte X. Gram here!



Iris Öhrn

I know people see me as a Black woman, with a foreign accent, and soon even an old woman. However, I do not see myself as such. Strange enough, in my mind I am not a single one of these women. As a result, I am blind to the signs of discrimination, micro-aggressions, or any other kind of master suppression techniques I might have definitively been exposed to.”

Iris Öhrn considers herself a cosmopolitan person, and with good reason. The investment advisor for life science at Business Region Göteborg left her native Cuba to study and work abroad before settling in Sweden. Read the interview here!



Françoise Barré-Sinoussi

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and HIV virus

I was in Cambodia coordinating a clinical trial in tuberculosis and HIV, and I really did not expect to get the Prize at all. I was really surprised.”

When Françoise Barré-Sinoussi came to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2008, she felt like she was in another world. As a true scientist, her world consists of research, either in the lab or out in the field in developing countries, fighting the very same virus she was receiving the Prize for discovering: the HIV virus.

Read the interview with Françoise Barré-Sinoussi here!



Gunilla Osswald

Leadership is something I am passionate about. I believe in leadership that makes individuals grow in their respective roles.”

So far BioArctic’s journey has involved FDA approvals, a successful deal with AbbVie, collaborations with universities – and not least, the hiring of a very dedicated CEO.

Read the interview with Gunilla Osswald here!



Masha Strømme

Masha Strømme


There is a good push towards parity in management teams and we see an increasing number of women innovators and CEOs in the space in Norway.”

Masha Strømme, founder of PAACS Invest, shares her advice to aspiring life science entrepreneurs looking to succeed and make a difference for patients. Read the interview here!



Katalin Karikó

I would like to see the system for cultivating researchers improved, because scientists who are immigrants and those who are not well-connected in the U.S. often struggle.”

Dr. Katalin Karikó, PhD, has shown more determination than most. Despite a series of setbacks, she forged ahead on messenger RNA research that contributed to a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus. Read the interview with Katalin Karikó here!



Frances H. Arnold

I encourage every member of my team to be a brain.”

Frances H. Arnold is a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2018. Learn more about her bold approaches to optimizing enzymes for society’s benefit here!



Jonina Gudmundsdottir

If I’ve learned anything, it is that you need to have the right people. If you have the right people, and the right teams that are working well together, then you’re doing something right.”

With a deep understanding of the industry’s challenges and a relentless drive for excellence, Gudmundsdottir has steered Coripharma toward transformative success. Read the interview with her here!



Barbro Ehnbom


An increasing diversity is a positive spiral, people are becoming more comfortable with each other’s differences, comfortable with change, and are daring to choose partners on the basis of competence and suitability for the job. With diversity comes innovation.”

Business woman Barbro Ehnbom has become renowned for her valuable networks and her successful business-generating activities and within life sciences she is perhaps best known as the founder of SALSS, the Swedish-American Life Science Summit. Read the interview with Barbro here!



Jutta Heix

Cluster work is “pushing and pulling” which can at times be quite demanding. Then again, however, it is very rewarding to see initiatives and companies succeed.”

For the past 14 years Jutta Heix has been an important cog in the wheel in accelerating the development of new cancer treatments and diagnostics – connecting and helping innovators and putting Norwegian oncology on the global map. Read the interview with Jutta Heix here!



Gitte Pedersen

Gitte Pedersen

I started my own company because there is no glass ceiling in a house you build yourself.”

An adventurous spirit rooted in a Viking heritage and her parents’ as an example helped spur Gitte Pedersen to move from her native Denmark to the U.S. 20 years ago, where she helped create a company and made a home.

Read the interview with Gitte Pedersen here!



More about Women in Life Sciences

Steering a life science company

The gender gap in life science start-ups


Making a stand for gender equality

Closing the gender gap in science