The Ecuadorian Belén Sotomayor Burneo reached first place at GapSummit 2022an event that brought together a hundred experts, scientists and new leaders in biotechnology at the University of Cambridge in the UK.
At the event organized by the Global Biotech Revolution entity, Solutions to problems related to sustainable biotechnological development have been proposed.
The team led by Sotomayor stood out with his proposal called ALLVAX, which consists in creating a platform to produce vaccines cheaply.
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The competition had a pre-selection in which the six teams with the best proposals were selected, which took part in the final and had to defend their idea in front of an evaluation jury made up of prominent business leaders in the pharmaceutical field.
“I am proud to be the first Latino woman to receive this recognition. This kind of performance is a sign that the young people in the region have a lot of potential proposing innovative solutions to problems the world is facing today,” said Sotomayor, a graduate of career in chemical engineering at Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL).
Sotomayor pointed out that there are a large number of diseases around the world that are common in the population. “In many cases, control strategies require the use of vaccines; However, there are limitations that make these connections difficult to access, especially in developing countries, due to aspects related to logistics (cold chain) and production (high cost),” he said.
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Because of this, Sotomayor and her team proposed using technology to develop powdered vaccines at low cost call free.
With this initiative, Sotomayor explained that the production of vaccines approved by the main public health regulatory bodies such as the FDA or the EMA would be facilitated.
As part of the award, the team led by Sotomayor will receive £10,000 (about US$11,000) in funding to begin implementing his proposal. In addition, they will have access to training to pitch their idea to incubators and accelerators that will hopefully make this proposal a reality.
The Sotomayor team was led by Dr. Hannah McEwen, director of engineering at multinational Johnson & Johnson. Also present were Miroslav Gasparek, a doctoral student at the University of Oxford (England) who researches in the field of synthetic biology; and Kai-Wen Karen Yang, a master’s student at Johns Hopkins University (USA) developing research with a focus on biomedical engineering and data science.
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Sotomayor is now doing her doctorate in biotechnology at Cornell University (USA) alongside her academic workis part of various organizations that encourage women to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, for its acronym in English).
His work consists of providing information on the opportunities of these professions, coordinating professional relationship events and developing training to support this population group. (yo)