Marie Heim-Vögtlin prize for outstanding young women researchers

Maria Luisa Balmer wins the 2023 MHV Prize

It has been known for some time that intestinal flora play a key role in the development of obesity. But the links between bacteria, metabolism and obesity are complex. This is the starting point for Maria Luisa Balmer’s research.

Her objective is to be able to alter gut bacteria in such a way that obesity can be prevented. Being severely overweight increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.

Maria Luisa Balmer is a specialist for Internal Medicine at Inselspital (Bern) and head of a research group at the University of Bern. A former Marie Heim-Vögtlin grantee, she was (also) awarded an SNSF Eccellenza Fellowship in 2020.

About the Marie Heim-Vögtlin Prize

The SNSF awards the Marie Heim-Vögtlin (MHV) Prize each year to an outstanding woman researcher. Prizewinners are inspiring role models whose careers progressed significantly thanks to a grant from the SNSF. The prize is worth 25,000 Swiss francs. For ten years, the prize was awarded to former recipients of the MHV funding scheme. Now that this scheme has been discontinued, the prize is being awarded to former female grantees of the MHV, Doc.CH, Postdoc.Mobility, Ambizione and PRIMA funding schemes.

Named after a pioneering woman

The MHV Prize was named after Marie Heim-Vögtlin, who became the first Swiss woman to study medicine when she was admitted to the University of Zurich’s medical faculty in 1868. On completing her studies, she opened a gynaecological practice, where she continued practising after giving birth to two children. She is regarded as one of the pioneers in the struggle to give women access to higher education.