Laura Bassi Award for Outstanding Female Researcher in Medical and Biological Engineering

The Laura Bassi award is presented by IFMBE every three years at the World Congress. The Laura Bassi award will be given to a senior female biomedical engineer for outstanding research contributions in the field of medical and biological engineering.

The criteria for nominations include innovation and outstanding research contributions to medical and biological engineering. The awardee will receive prize money of 3,000 euros to attend the World Congress 2015 in Toronto where the award will be presented. The awardee will be required to make a scientific presentation in the area of the awardee’s expertise at the World Congress.

Nominations may be made by IFMBE entities, affiliated member societies, or any individual member of the constituent societies. Nominees must be members of an IFMBE affiliated organization. Confirmed nominees will submit a Curriculum Vitae that includes a brief (half-page maximum) biography and a photo. Nominators will provide a maximum one-page write-up on the significant contributions of the nominee made in conformance with the criteria stated above.

>> Send  nomination to Laura Poole-Warren: [email protected], with a copy to [email protected]


The Committee will consider the nominations and call for a full application from selected nominees and their nominator/s.

Shortlisted nominees will be notified and requested to provide a detailed application (full CV, a photograph and a one page description of the significance of their contributions) (Deadline March 21, 2015).


Laura Maria Caterina Bassi (1711-1778) was a prodigy. She was interested in science and philosophy at the tender age of five. Laura was tutored by a cousin until age 13, and then by a professor at University of Bologna (Dr. Tacconi) to learn the more advanced science and mathematics. She disputed on science and philosophy subjects in her home with several members of the Academy of Science of Bologna and some eminent men such as Cardinal Lambertini (the future Pope Benedict XIV). On April 17, 1732, Laura defended 49 theses at the University of Bologna, for which she was awarded a doctorate in philosophy on May 12 in the same year. Several of the theses were on physics and other science topics. In March 1732, she had been invited to become a member of the Academy of Science of Bologna. On June 27, 1732, Laura defended another 12 theses; the plan was to encourage the university to award a Lectureship to Laura Bassi. Laura was appointed as a Lecturer on October 29, 1732, the day she turned 21 years old, with a salary equivalent to that of her male colleagues. She appears to have been the first woman professor in science in the world.

Laura was drawn by the philosophy of Newton and introduced this and calculus in her courses, while most men involved in science at the time still focused on Descartes and Galen. Laura Bassi made the transition from the old science to the new and introduced this to Italy. She taught classes on experimental physics for 30 years. This complemented well the theoretical courses taught by the University. Laura Bassi presented original research at the Academy every year between 1745 and 1778, the year she died. Laura was awarded the Chair in Physics in 1776, two years before her death. Although most of the awards bestowed upon her were meant to be honorary, Laura’s strategies succeeded to turn all into real positions.

Source: Laura Bassi and Science in 18th Century Europe: The extraordinary life and role of Italy’s pioneering female professor. M. Frize, Springer, 2013.