Unlike other sectors of the French economy, the healthcare sector has always relied on the creativity, expertise, and excellence of women. They account for 56% of the nearly 100,000 employees of the pharmaceutical industry (Repères sur l’emploi des entreprises du médicament – Insights into employment trends in pharmaceutical firms, published by LEEM in March 2022). Women make up 45% of the 88,000 employees of medical device manufacturing firms (Panorama et analyse qualitative de la filière industrielle des dispositifs médicaux en France en 2021 – Overview and qualitative analysis of the medical device industry in France in 2021, published by SNITEM) and 47% of the HealthTech workforce (Panorama France HealthTech 2021 – Overview of the French HealthTech sector in 2021, by France Biotech). But there is still a lot of progress to be made: just 18% of HealthTech entrepreneurs are women. In the biotech sector, the figure is slightly higher (20%).
French Healthcare therefore decided to spotlight five women who have excelled in their respective scientific fields.
Catherine Martineau-Huynh, COO & co-founder of TheraPanacea
With ART-Plan, TheraPanacea has optimized radiation therapy for cancer. The software suite automatically contours target areas on medical images without affecting the surrounding organs and healthy tissues, saving a huge amount of time for physicians. The MedTech firm recently formed a partnership with Dyn’r Systems to distribute its products in the United States.
Anne-Laure Morel, President and co-founder of Torskal
Torskal designs gold nanoparticles using extracts of ambaville, a plant native to Anne-Laure Morel’s home island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean. Just one dose of these nanoparticles is needed to treat cancer; the side effects are minimal and healthy cells are left unharmed. Torskal’s skin cancer treatment is scheduled to undergo clinical trials in 2022.
Frédérique Penault-Llorca, oncologist
Medical doctor, university professor and hospital practitioner Pr Frédérique Penault-Llorca teaches at the university of Clermont-Ferrand. She is also Managing Director of the Jean Perrin cancer research center and Deputy Director of the Inserm 1240 ImoST research team. She has conducted various research studies based on cancer biomarkers and discovered a world-first treatment for breast cancer.
Maria Pereira, Chief Innovation Officer at Tissium
Maria Pereira has invented a biomorphic programmable polymer to reconstruct damaged tissue, such as heart tissue. The polymer acts as an adhesive to repair holes inside a beating heart. The technology has been licensed to Gecko Biomedical (now Tissium), a MedTech firm that raised US$11 million in venture capital in 2013.
Nawal Ouzren, CEO of Sensorion
Sensorion is developing a broad pipeline of innovative therapies to prevent, treat and resolve internal ear disorders (hearing loss solutions, medications for treating severe vertigo or preventing deafness following severe acute trauma, etc.). The French biotech firm is also carrying out gene therapy research programs.
To support these and numerous other innovations, the French government is investing €20 billion under the fourth Investments for the Future Program, which targets leading-edge technology sectors (including health technologies).