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Biologist is first woman to scoop top award

A Dutch biologist from the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) has become the first woman to be awarded the Marcel Benoist scientific prize.

Françoise Gisou van der Goot runs the university's public health centre and has studied the production of proteins and toxins in cells.

Her research has helped understanding of certain illnesses such as cystic fibrosis and plays a role in the fight against bioterrorism, the interior ministry said on Monday.

The 45-year-old taught at Geneva University before becoming a professor of microbiology at the EPFL. She will receive the award from the interior ministry on November 24 and receive SFr100,000 ($97,000) in prize money.

The Marcel Benoist prize is the Swiss government's highest recognition of outstanding achievement in science and the humanities. It has been awarded annually since 1920 for "the most useful scientific discovery or study, in particular in disciplines which are of significance for human life".

Benoist, a French national who lived in Lausanne, left most of his wealth to the Swiss confederation under the condition that it be used to fund an annual scientific award. and agencies


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