Vaso Episkopou – Science Award
Science beyond the boundaries is research, research that will promote scientific knowledge, bringing new discoveries.
Science beyond the boundaries is faithfully served by dr. Vaso Bishop, Geneticist, world famous for the genetic leap of the discovery of two genes, Arcadia and Arcadia 2, which is expected to lead to new revolutionary treatments of paralysis etc.
Geneticist Vaso Bishop was born in Pyrgos, Ilia, but her father who loved science made sure to move to Athens to send her brother and her to the best schools. After graduating from the American College of Girls (Pierce), she studied Biology at the University of Patras, in the first Department of Biology founded in Greece.
As she says, she owes a lot to the great Greek biologist, Mr. Argyri Efstratiadis, then a professor at Harvard University, gave her the opportunity to try research and eventually kept her close to him to do a PhD. He received a Ph.D. in Genetics and Development from Columbia University in New York.
She tried to return to Greece and introduce technology but the conditions were no
t favourable, while at the same time her passion for scientific discovery was lively. She is currently a regular professor of Developmental Biology in Neurobiology at imperial college London School of Medicine.
Vaso Bishop is world famous for her studies on how the brain is formed in the fetus and how spinal neurons extend long axes and connect to the muscles to move them.
Specifically, it has discovered two genes, named Arcadia and Arcadia2, and showed that Arcadia is necessary for brain development in the fetus and Arcadia2 for the connection of motor nerves to muscles.
The study of fetal development enables us to discover how the fertilized egg changes into a complex organ organism. One of the most advanced goals of science today is to use embryonic multi-powerful cells to create cells and organs in the body that can lead to repair treatments. Thus, knowledge about brain development in the fetus paves the way for valuable practical applications.
As for Arcadia 2, which is necessary to connect nerve cells to muscles, its removal in the mouse causes paralysis in many muscles. In humans such diseases are the degenerative diseases of motor neurons, as is the case with Amyotrophic Later Sclerosis disease (ALS) from which Professor Stephen Hawking suffers. Knowing how neurons bind to muscles will help us fight such diseases.
As Ms Bishop herself says: “I have never lived in an elephant tower, far from society. I found myself close to homeless people who once met them everywhere on the great streets of New York City and worked alongside scientists who later won them a Nobel Prize. I’ve learned that if you have will, faith, enthusiasm and fight self-sacrifice, you can realize the most amazing dreams. At the same time, I learned that strict specialization does not prevent you from knowing and loving other aspects of life, such as art, travel, communication with people, concern for your place.”