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Johnson & Johnson Announces Winners of Champions of Science® Storytelling Challenge – Latin America and the Caribbean Edition

Originally published on jnj.com.

Johnson & Johnson today announced five winners of the Champions of Science Storytelling Challenge – Latin America and the Caribbean edition. The Challenge highlights the achievements and personal journeys of scientists and innovators working in the region.

“Telling the stories of scientists—what motivates them, how they are approaching complex challenges—humanizes science. Making science more accessible creates opportunities for people to understand its transformational power,” said Seema Kumar, Vice President, Innovation, Global Health and Policy Communication, Johnson & Johnson. “Shining a light on the talented scientists and innovators in Latin America and the Caribbean builds public support and encourages advocacy for scientific innovation. It also can inspire young people in the region to pursue careers that will help change the trajectory of health for humanity.”
The Challenge received nearly 100 entries from scientists and innovators in 17 countries. An independent committee of scientists and science journalists selected the winners, who will receive a $5,000 cash prize, publication of their stories, and international publicity.

Later today, at the UNESCO Regional Meeting celebrating 70 years in Latin America and the Caribbean,Johnson & Johnson will host a celebration and panel discussion to spotlight the winners, hear from leaders about the exciting science and technology developments taking place across the region, and facilitate a discussion about the importance of engaging more champions of science across the world.
The Champions of Science Storytelling Challenge is part of Johnson & Johnson’s ongoing commitment to convene and catalyze champions of science and to engage people of all generations and backgrounds to see the unlimited opportunities that science brings.

Champions of Science – Latin America and the Caribbean Storytelling Challenge Winners

  • Ing. Ana Del Hierro, MScresearcher, Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad, Ecuador, whose work is focused on insect biotechnology as means of converting organic and plastic waste to reduce its environmental impact and revalue it to create high-value products.
  • Dra. Maria Elena de Lima, professor and researcher, Santa Casa-BH Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa, Brazil, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Fundação Ezequiel Dias, Belo Horizonte, MG, and Biozeus Biopharmaceutical, who profiled how a peptide derived from spider toxin is being used to create a topical treatment for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
  • Vilásia Guimarães MartinsPh.D., in Food Science and Engineering, Professor and Researcher at Federal University of Rio Grande, Brazil, who chronicled her quest to create an innovative biodegradable plastic to help reduce pollution.
  • Rafael Teixeira Sousa, Ph.D. candidate, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Brazil, who described his research into using artificial intelligence to personalize the monitoring of diabetic patients to reduce complications of the disease.
  • Daniel Obregón Valencia, Profesional Químico, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Perú, whose story profiles his investigation into how activated carbon made from moriche palm fruit pips can remove heavy metals from water as part of the GICA Team.

“Several of the winners shared stories highlighting the importance of the rich natural resources in this region. UNESCO believes that a greater understanding of ecosystems and biodiversity, and the interaction of humans with ecosystems, is necessary to manage our planet for a peaceful and sustainable future,” said Lidia Brito, Director, UNESCO Regional Office for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean. “For this reason, I’m thrilled that Johnson & Johnson announced the winners during UNESCO Montevideo 70th anniversary celebration.”

Champions of Science Storytelling Challenge – Latin America & the Caribbean Edition Judges

An independent panel of judges selected the winners and included:

  • Gabriel Alves, Ph.D., reporter, Folha de S.Paulo
  • Guillermo Anllo, Senior Program Specialist, Science and Technology Policy and Capacity-Building, UNESCO Regional Office for Science in LAC
  • Dr. Cristina Caldas, Science Director, Instituto Serrapilheira, Brazil
  • Natalia Cuminale, science journalist
  • Diego Golombek, Professor and Researcher, National University of Quilmes/CONICET, Argentina
  • Raquel Peck, Founder & Director, Clarion I.
  • Diogo Sponchiato, editor-in-chief from Revista Saúde!

About Champions of Science
Science touches our lives in every imaginable way. From antibiotics and telecommunications, to genomics, precision medicine and 3D printing, science has improved the human condition, leading to longer, healthier, happier lives for people all over the world. To continue to advance, science needs champions!

As a global healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson is uniquely positioned to champion the role of science in society. Our Champions of Science public engagement initiative aims to convene and catalyze champions of science and engage people of all generations and backgrounds to see the unlimited opportunities that science brings.

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