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U of T professor first Canadian woman to win prestigious international science prize

TORONTO, ON. Eugenia Kumacheva of the University of Toronto's Department of Chemistry has been cited as one of the world's top women scientists.

The L'Oral-UNESCO Women in Science prize only one of five awarded each year is being awarded to Kumacheva for her work in designing and developing new materials with many applications that included targeted drug delivery for cancer treatments and materials for high density optical data storage.

"This marks the first occasion that a Canadian has received this award," says Prof. Kumechava. "I am thrilled."

Kumacheva's research involves working with the sub-structures of polymer particles to create new materials with unique properties. The applications of her work are numerous. Among the many examples are polymer thin films that can be used to encrypt identification documents such as passports, foiling fraud and offering a potentially speedy alternative to waiting in long security checkpoint or government lines.

Her group has also created inexpensive water-based semiconductor nanoparticles capable of boosting light in the infrared spectrum thereby improving the precision of night vision technology. She also developed polymer particles that deliver drugs to a specific diseased site and release them there on demand. And most recently, Kumacheva has been involved in collaborative work on the fabrication of patterned polymer surfaces for the controlled renewal and differentiation of stem cells.

Kumacheva holds the Canada Research Chair in Advanced Polymer Materials.

"As a L'Oral-UNESCO laureate, Prof. Kumacheva joins some of the most extraordinary female scientists in the world," says Scott Mabury, chair of the Department of Chemistry. Other laureates in the program's 10-year history include such eminent scientists as MIT Professor Margaret Dresselhaus, science advisor to former US President Bill Clinton and co-discoverer of carbon nanotubes.

"She is a perfect choice for this honour," says Mabury. "Her innovative research is a great example of the contribution that women make in science."

The Women in Science Awards program is a partnership between United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and L'Oral. Only five laureates are chosen each year, one from each of the following continents: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and North America with each receiving a $100,000 cash prize.


Contact: Kim Luke
University of Toronto

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