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The campaign theme for this year is #BreakTheBias. Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality. Today, we celebrate the achievements of several of IDRM’s women over the past year.

With the completion of our building, and as we look forward to moving our research teams in over the next few months, we take the opportunity to look back over the past calendar year to celebrate what many of our fantastic women have achieved ahead of their move to IDRM.

In March 2021, Nicola Smart identified a new target to development treatment for Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm, publishing her lab’s findings in ‘The Journal of Clinical Investigation’. She then went onto to deliver the prestigious John French Memorial Lecture in June 2021, which is given annually by a rising star in atherosclerosis research.

June 2021 was a major month for two other IDRM women. Jacinta Kalisch-Smith revealed evidence that iron deficiency anaemia in early pregnancy increases risk of heart defects, published together with Duncan Sparrow in ‘Nature Communications’. Lucija Fleisinger won the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics’s (DPAG) flagship graduate student competition, The Sherrington Talks 2021 , talking about "Endothelial KLF2 is developmentally regulated by two distal enhancers".

In August 2021, Catheryn Lim, together with Carlo Rinaldi, made a promising discovery for treatment of neuromuscular disease. The study, published in Science Advances, showed a naturally occurring isoform of an androgen receptor can be used in therapy for spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy. That same month, Xin Sun was shortlisted in the British Heart Foundation’s annual ‘Reflections of Research’ image competition with ‘Texture of a heart’:

In October 2021, Iris Hofmann started her role as IDRM’s new Institute Manager. Iris supports Institute Director Paul Riley in establishing and taking forward the operational and financial management of the IDRM and is responsible for the effective day-to-day management and administration, as well as contributing to the future direction of the Institute.

In November 2021, Judy Sayers became the winner of the DPAG Student Poster Day 2021, “A Year of progress”, another major departmental event for highlighting talented graduate students, with her poster entitled "Regeneration of the Cardiac Conduction System".

In January 2022, a public engagement project led by Tomoko Watanabe was awarded a £188K Enriching Engagement grant. "Shaping Destiny: Experiments in Embodiment” will engage the local Oxford community with a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the human form.

In February 2022, Filipa Simões was awarded a BHF Intermediate Basic Science Research Fellowship, which will allow her to establish her independent research programme as Principal Investigator at the IDRM. She will investigate how immune cells called macrophages facilitate long-lasting heart regeneration in the zebrafish and how this could be harnessed for the human heart. That same month, Sarah De Val’s Fellowship was handpicked by the BHF to be funded by the 2022 TCS London Marathon, one of just eight selected projects. She and Alice Neal study how blood vessels develop, with the aim of manipulating blood vessel growth in the human heart so that it can recover better after a heart attack.

We look forward to many more exciting awards, accolades and research breakthroughs as we all work together to tackle some of the world’s most prolific diseases in the months and years ahead.