Mariana Mesel-Lemoine appointed as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Institut Pasteur

Press release

Acting on a proposal from the Institut Pasteur President Yasmine Belkaid, the Institut Pasteur Board of Governors appointed Mariana Mesel-Lemoine as Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on Wednesday February 7, 2024.

This appointment marks a significant milestone in the history of the Institut Pasteur, and it is the first French research institute to establish a position of this kind at such a senior and strategic level. Mariana Mesel-Lemoine will report directly to the President. Her mission will be to propose policy and strategy priorities related to diversity, equity and inclusion for the "Pasteur 2030" Strategic Plan, to oversee their implementation and to support the organizational changes that they require. She will work in close collaboration with the various Institut Pasteur departments and the Employee Resources Groups to guarantee that these basic principles are integrated into all aspects of life and work at the Institut Pasteur.

Mariana Mesel-Lemoine took her first steps in science at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil, focusing her early research on plague and filariasis. She left Brazil in 1997 and came to France, where she completed a Master's and a PhD in Immunology, specializing in graft-versus-host disease at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris. She joined the Institut Pasteur in 2006 for a postdoctoral fellowship in virology. Her passion for science soon led her to turn her attention to the people involved in science, and she became keen to support her fellow scientists and guide them in their professional development. In 2014, Mariana Mesel-Lemoine therefore set out to establish the Office in charge of Integration and Career Guidance Structure for Scientists (MAASCC), now the Career Development Service for Scientists at the Institut Pasteur, or CARE. This body, the only one of its kind in France, has provided support for nearly 2,000 scientists over the past decade and proposed practical solutions to address some of the worrying phenomena observed in French research, like the declining interest in science and the loss of female talent. In response to these challenges, Mariana Mesel-Lemoine has developed and implemented cross-cutting projects involving several departments and the Institut Pasteur community. These initiatives have led to major achievements such as the European HR Excellence in Research Award in 2021 and the publication of a Gender Equality Plan (GEP) in 2022.

Mariana Mesel-Lemoine

It is with immense joy and a strong sense of commitment that I am taking on the role of Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Institut Pasteur. The Institut Pasteur community is a rich tapestry of different talents, backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. By embracing our diversity and valuing what makes us unique, the Institut Pasteur will strengthen its ability to innovate and to tackle major public health challenges.

Mariana Mesel-Lemoine, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

The appointment of Mariana Mesel-Lemoine, which comes just a few days before the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, emphasizes the Institut Pasteur's commitment to improving the representation of women in senior positions in the research sector and advancing the role and visibility of women in science. There continue to be glaring inequalities for women in research. The proportion of women in senior leadership positions was 32.2% in 2023 (Gender Gap Report, 2023). Women represented just 27% of research directors and 19% of university professors in science in 2019 (Rapport de situation comparée entre les femmes et les hommes, CNRS, 2019). Women are most likely to be under-represented as authors of scientific publications, they have a lower grant application success rate and they represent just 10.7% of patent holders at EU level (She Figures, 2021).

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