A vertical collage feature Mary Masih, Shruti Chandra and Giulia De Rossi

We are celebrating International Women’s Day and the International Day of Women and Girls in Science by highlighting profiles of three fantastic research and clinical staff members at Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology.

Women have played a fundamental role in science, driving breakthroughs, innovations and discoveries that benefit us all today. 

Maria Skłodowska Curie is, without a doubt, one of the most famous scientists in history. 

She was the first female scientist to receive a Nobel prize for her pioneering work on radioactive elements. 

She is still the only woman to receive a Nobel prize in two categories: Chemistry and Physics. 

During World War I, she applied her scientific knowledge to build a mobile X-ray unit to help treat wounded soldiers. 

While the achievements of Maria Skłodowska Curie are well known to the world, the contributions of many other female scientists have often been omitted, understated, and declined due credit.

Rosalind Franklin

The story of Rosalind Franklin has become a cautionary tale of how groundbreaking work can be overlooked. 

She has played a vital role in discovering the double helix structure of DNA, which unlocked the secret of life”, an understanding of how the genes are passed on from parent to child. 

For many years, this discovery has been solely credited to her male colleagues, Watson and Crick. 

Franklin was not listed as an author in their seminal publications in 1953 and 1954, and her pivotal role has only been fully uncovered in recent years.


less likely for women than men to be named contributing author on a science paper


less likely for women than men to be credited on a patent related to projects that they both worked on

Seventy years on, women are still less likely to be recognised for their contributions to science. 

Women publish and patent less than men. A recent study in science journal Nature suggests that this is not because women are less productive but because their work is undervalued. 

The paper concludes that women are systematically less likely to be named as contributing authors on articles and patents.

Following on from previous years, we are delighted to talk this year about three inspirational women at Moorfields, highlighting and celebrating their achievements.

Mary Masih

Mary Masih has extensive clinical practice experience, having been a registered nurse for over 32 years and ophthalmic nurse for over 27 years. 

She has led the north division at Moorfields as the head of nursing for six years now. 

Mary has been part of a team leading Pathway to excellence” at Moorfields, a nursing accreditation programme focused on the health and well-being of staff and raising quality within the clinical environment. 

The team has been incredibly successful achieving a designation in May 2023, one of only 6 trusts in the UK, and winning a Moorfields Stars award in September 2023. 

Mary is a transformational leader who enjoys inspiring others as a role model, coach and mentor.

The most enjoyable part of my role is applying my extensive experience to influence, innovate and lead others on a journey when shaping clinical services. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing someone else achieve their goal.


Mary draws her inspiration from progress of research and innovation that allowed her to see sight saving interventions implemented during her career, such as intravitreal injections. 

Early on in my career I was used to being part of a team who told patients that we couldn’t do anything to help them regain their sight. To then be part of a team where we were able to offer treatment to help restore vision or stop the progression of disease has been revolutionary.


Mary thinks it is important to be creative in how we attract people to come and work for NHS to overcome issues of staff recruitment and retention. 

She believes that more needs to be done to promote extensive opportunities, scientific careers and proactively influence choices from an early age.

Equity in roles and opportunities for women is crucial and, of course, celebrating achievements.

Women can equally achieve just as much as men, we need to believe in ourselves, be creators of our own destiny and be our own cheerleaders!


Shruti Chandra

Dr Shruti Chandra is an ophthalmology specialist registrar and NIHR academic clinical fellow. 

She has completed a PhD in age-related macular degeneration at University College London. 

She has been an author of the Public Health England Vision Atlas and the AMD Clinical Commissioning Guidance 2023. 

She has recently received funding to study and understand barriers to trial participation among the BAME community.

The best part about my role is the privilege to pursue clinical training and protected time to continue my research in age related macular degeneration (AMD) which is a common cause for sight loss among the elderly. I am particularly proud of and am humbled by the interaction with my research patients who have made me understand AMD through their viewpoint.


Shruti has been inspired by her clinical and research mentors and teachers. 

She speaks highly of her supervisor, Prof Sobha Sivaprasad, a leader who has faced multiple challenges and works towards making the path easier for women in research.

Sobha is the person who has truly inspired me to push my limits and strive for excellence always.


Shruti thinks that a lot has already changed for women in science. There are many more women scientists doing pioneering work and presenting it at global meetings. 

However, she adds, the challenges still exist in the form of gender stereotypes, discrimination and systems that don’t value women and their contributions. 

On an individual level, achieving the balance between professional life, research commitments, and parenthood remains more challenging for women. 

I hope in the future women in science’ need not be a forum that we have to advocate and fight for. I hope for us to be acknowledged for our work irrespective of the gender we belong to, without discrimination and without any boundaries limiting our growth.

Giulia De Rossi

Dr Giulia De Rossi is a senior research fellow and principal investigator at the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. 

She is the recipient of the RD Lawrence Fellowship, co-funded by Moorfields Eye Charity & Diabetes UK.

Obtaining this prestigious award has been by far the achievement I am most proud of. Designing and writing a research programme that has been supported by two scientific committees has been hugely rewarding and confirmed I am on the right path to answer my research questions.


Giulia was born and raised in Rome, where she graduated in genomic biotechnology at La Sapienza University. 

After one year at the German cancer research centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, she came to London to undertake a PhD in microvascular research at the William Harvey Research Centre, Queen Mary University. 

Giulia has always been fascinated by vasculature, how it works and what happens when it does not function properly. 

She studied how blood vessels grow during diseases such as cancer and eye pathologies, and, importantly, her work led to patenting therapeutic peptides for these diseases.

From a very young age, Giulia has had a love for problem-solving and an intense curiosity for understanding how things work. 

She soon realised that a research lab was the best place to develop these skills.

What I enjoy the most about my role is being creative and able to explore new research ideas, with the goal that one day these ideas will become something tangible that could make a difference for patients. I also love the academic environment, brainstorming with colleagues and passing on knowledge to junior members.


Now that she is starting to establish her own group, Giulia is inspired by women who are great scientists but equally great mentors and leaders. 

She credits Professor Clare Futter to be a great example of all of the above. 

Giulia recognises that life as a scientist can be very challenging, especially for early career researchers, with short-term contracts, very long hours (and no overtime pay) and often work on weekends. 

While this is true for everyone, women thinking of having a family might feel a career in science is incompatible with their life goals and move to a job with a better work-life balance. 

Also, more women than men tend to underestimate themselves, which is reflected, for example, in the number of grant and fellowship proposals submitted to funders and promotion applications. 

I am positive that if we put girls and young women in the position of choosing a job based on their inclination and if we can improve work-life balance in science jobs, we will make a difference in gender equality. We need to make sure science retains the best talents and that can only happen if everyone is given the same opportunities.

What is the future looking like for women in science?

We must recognise and celebrate women’s achievements and nurture their careers in science so they can continue to add to the diversity of thoughts and ideas that lead to advancing scientific findings and clinical practices.