The state-backed Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and the Polish Embassy in Tokyo have established an award named after Polish-born Nobel laureate Marie Curie to commend young Japanese female researchers aiming to be active on the global arena.

Applications, either by nomination or self-submission, for the first Marie Sklodowska Curie Award will be accepted between Oct. 1 and Dec. 13. One applicant will be chosen for the Grand Prize and two for the Inspiration Prize. The prize money will be ¥500,000 for the Grand Prize winner and ¥250,000 for each Inspiration Prize winner.

The announcement of the winners and the award ceremony are scheduled for May of next year.

Those eligible to apply must be female career researchers with Japanese citizenship. Applicants must also have obtained a doctoral degree within the past five years or will be doctoral students as of April 1, 2022. Periods away from research because of life events, such as maternity leave, are excluded from the total period concerned. The winners will be selected by a committee of external experts headed by Akiko Iwasaki, professor of immunobiology at Yale University.

Marie Sklodowska Curie discovered polonium at age 31 and radium at 32. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only person awarded a Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields, physics and chemistry, which she won in 1903 and 1911, respectively.

JST President Michinari Hamaguchi, former head of Nagoya University in Aichi Prefecture, said that the Marie Curie award is intended to encourage young female scientists, noting that they may face difficulties continuing their research activities due to life events such as childbirth although the first half of the 30s is the most important period for researchers.

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