Caroline Bissardon wins the L’Oréal UNESCO Women in Science award


Caroline Bissardon, ESRF user, is one of the recipients of the L’Oréal UNESCO Women in Science awards this year. At 25, she is researching the unexplored role of selenium in cartilage as the subject of her PhD and has used the ESRF extensively.

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Osteoarthritis is a joint disease affecting 43.4 million people worldwide and that results from breakdown of joint cartilage. Research has shown that a too low amount of selenium in the body can be an onset of this disease and influence the possibilities of contraction of this disease in life. However, too much selenium can also be harmful.

Caroline Bissardon, a PhD student at the Institut des Sciences de la Terre in the Université Grenoble-Alpes (UGA/CNRS/IRD/USMB/IFSTTAR, OSUG) and the Centre for NanoHealth in the University of Swansea in Wales (UK), is trying to find out the impact of this element in cartilage from the biochemical, biological and biomechanical point of view. The ultimate goal is to improve the treatment of osteoarthritis and to learn more about tissue regeneration. Her research is based, to a great extent, on work done at the ESRF on ID16A and the French beamline FAME. She used different techniques, such as X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy, X-ray spectroscopy (XANES) and infrared microscopy (FTIR).

“The subject of my thesis was quite an unexplored subject until now”, explains Caroline Bissardon. “The strength of this multidisciplinary project is to link environmental geochemistry and health”, she says. “To have a recognition as prestigious as this one means that my work is going in the right direction”, she adds.

One of her thesis directors, Sylvain Bohic, from INSERM, adds that “it is tough to start research in a field where there are hardly any previous scientific publications, but Caroline’s perseverance has proved fruitful and hopefully this work can lead to advancements in treatment of cartilage diseases in the long run”.

With the prize, Bissardon intends to attend conferences in the field and establish international collaborations in this research. As to the future, she is starting a post-doctoral position this winter at the ESRF with the laboratory of Synchrotron radiation and Medical Research EA 7442 of the Université Grenoble-Alpes.

The L’Oréal UNESCO Women in Science awards recognise the work of 17 PhD students and 13 Post-doc in France as “Generation of young researchers”, out of 1032 of applicants. It was created in 2007.



Caroline Bissardon, one of the winners of the L'Oréal Unesco Women in Science prize on the beamline FAME. Credits: L'Oréal Foundation.


Text by Montserrat Capellas Espuny