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UM scientists recognized by Canadian Bioscience Award for promoting inclusion

Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (CSMB) Jeanne Manery Fisher Memorial Lecture 2023

June 19, 2023 — 

On June 1st, 2023, Ute Kothe delivered the Jeanne Manery Fisher Memorial Lecture at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences (CSMB) in Ottawa.  

The Jeanne Manery Fisher Memorial Lecture Award recognizes Kothe as a woman with a distinguished career in the field of biomolecular sciences who has demonstrated exceptional teaching, leadership and contributions to the broader community including the promotion of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in the sciences. 

As Imogen Coe, past president of the CSMB, highlighted in her appraisal: “The CSMB concurs with the tri-councils that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges”.  

Jeanne Manery Fisher Memorial Lecture Award

Jeanne Manery Fisher Memorial Lecture Award

Kothe is the first woman to serve as head of the department of chemistry at the University of Manitoba. She was recruited in 2021 based on her unique track record combining outstanding achievements in research with impactful leadership in teaching undergraduates and graduate students. Throughout her career, Kothe also tirelessly advocates for cultural and institutional change to promote equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility for all, in particular the next generation of scientists. 

For the Jeanne Manery Fisher Memorial Lecture, Kothe chose the title “Four nucleotides are not enough: the mechanisms and functions of RNA modifications”. Therein, she shared her research into the formation, modification, and function of ribonucleic acid (RNA) highlighting the importance of RNA modifications as critical features of RNAs found in our bodies and for the effectiveness of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines. 

“To fully exploit the opportunities science offers, we need all talented people to contribute”, Kothe says “Therefore, I am deeply grateful for the early leadership of Jeanne Manery Fisher promoting women in science and for the commitment of the CSMB as a strong advocate for equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.” 

Katey Rayner, PhD, CSMB board member, commented on Kothe’s lecture: “A mind-blowing talk about RNA biology. But importantly, as the CSMB Jeanne Manery Fisher award winner, she reminded us how far we have come towards inclusion in science, but how far we have to go. There are so many people, who are not in the room, but should be.”

Ute Kothe portrait.

Ute Kothe, Professor, Head at the Department of Chemistry

A short bio on Ute Kothe

After completing a diploma in biochemistry, Kothe conducted her PhD studies at the University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany under the supervision of Marina Rodnina studying bacterial protein synthesis. In 2006, she became an assistant professor at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, where she established her independent research program focusing on the mechanisms and functions of RNA modification and where she was later promoted to associate and full professor. Kothe’s research accomplishments were recognized with an Alberta Innovates Research Chair in 2015 and her election into the College of the Royal Society in Canada in 2017. She is also a passionate and award-winning educator having received the University of Lethbridge Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014 and being named the University of Lethbridge Teaching Chair in 2020. In 2021, Kothe was recruited to the University of Manitoba, Canada, becoming the first woman to lead the department of chemistry. She is an active member of the RNA research community leading the international RNA Salon program, organizing international conferences, having served on the first DEI committee of the international RNA Society and being a current member of the RNA Canada EDI committee. 

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