May Morris

In partnership with CNRS


The Délégation générale de l’Alliance Française, the National Center for Scientific Research’s (CNRS) Mission for Women in the Sciences and the office of the CNRS in Washington will present a series of talks given by biologist May Morris (October 2008) and physicist Lucia Reining (March 2009). May Morris will speak about advancements in research on cancer and recent developments in therapeutics, and Lucia Reining will discuss the interaction between light and matter found throughout the universe.

 Partners who invite the researchers may choose as well to host the traveling exhibition “Women in Physics,” which was originated by CNRS’s Mission for Women in the Sciences in 2005 for the World Year of Physics.

This exhibition is designed in the hope of making young people more fully aware of careers in science through the personal accounts of fifteen women physicists.

The speakers will be able to adapt their talks to younger audiences.

The CNRS and the Mission for Women in the Sciences

Founded in 1939 by the French government, the National Center for Scientific Research is the largest public research institution in Europe and the first scientific establishment to set up and implement procedures designed to promote the role of women in the 1,260 laboratories in France and abroad: gender statistics, identification of the factors influencing women’s careers, validation of women’s careers in the sciences, and especially at the CNRS, sensitivity to and training on the question of gender, promotion of research on gender, efforts to raise the issue among young people and the public at large, participation in national and European networks on the issue of “Women and Sciences” etc.

The Speaker

May Morris was recruited in 2000 by the CNRS as researcher in the “Therapeutic, Medicine, and Bio-engineering” section. She heads the “Molecular interactions and mechanisms regulating the cellular cycle” team, which is part of the Center for Research on Marine Biotechnologies (CRBM) in Montpellier. In 2005, after having obtained certification and licensing to direct research, May Morris put together a team to understand the molecular processes underlying cell division and to map out therapeutic and diagnostic strategies for cell growth. In 2006, she received the CNRS Bronze Medal for the quality of her work on the molecular basis of the mechanisms of the regulation of the cell cycle, and their impact in the development of new therapeutic and diagnostic measures, notably in the treatment of cancer.

   The daughter of a researcher and herself the mother of a five-year-old, May Morris has been concerned with opportunities for women in research for a long time and has worked closely with CNRS’s mission for women in the sciences since 2007.


The Cycle of a life
May Morris will speak at some length on questions relating to research on cancer and the current treatments. In so doing, she intends to guide us through the world of the cell cycle, the “succession” of events that coordinate the growth of the cell and its division, a biological process that is extremely complex and whose mechanisms of molecular regulation are still poorly represented. Breakdowns in the signaling paths lead to uncontrolled cell growth, one of the main indications of the development of cancer. It is thus vitally important that cellular surveillance mechanisms be able to serve as rigorous checkpoints during cell division in order to prevent cancer.
With her research team, May Morris studies molecular interactions and mechanisms underlying the progression of the cell cycle with two objectives in mind: understanding the molecular basis of cell proliferation and identifying the valuable molecular targets for the development of inhibitors and biosensors associated with therapeutic strategies and original diagnoses.

Link to information about the exhibit "Physique de femmes"

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Related Sites

  • Fondation Alliance Française
  • Alliance Française de Paris
  • Cultural Services of the French Embassy
  • Federation of Alliance Française USA

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