Early-to-mid-career researchers often find themselves in a conundrum while planning and building a family. On one side, new parents desire to have family time during these happy but also personally challenging circumstances, and on the other side, their passion for science combined with a fast-paced, competitive academic environment often complicates the situation. 

While parenting is a genderless responsibility and the equitable distribution of caretaking tasks is key to alleviating gender inequalities, women’s academic careers are often more impacted than men’s. These differences are not solely attributed to pregnancy but are also a result of pervasive sociocultural norms that define gender roles in caregiving. As discussed in the recent ALBA Network webinar “Unfinished Business: Persistent Global Gender Disparities in Neuroscience”, women in Europe tend to spend two more hours per day in unpaid work – which includes care and domestic duties – than men. 

Dr. Claudia Duran-Aniotz is an example that the gender inequality issue transcends borders and can be particularly challenging  in regions marked by high inequality, such as Latin America. Being a neuroscientist in Chile who recently became a mother for the second time, she faced several challenges close to the arrival of her newborn, including “limited government funds and cultural gender discrimination”. While longing for the special moments with her newborn, she also felt an obligation to keep her research moving forward while she was on maternity leave, “I didn’t want any gender-based or mother stereotypes affecting my academic productivity”.

Dr. Claudia Duran-Aniotz

To help alleviate and address the challenges neuroscientists like Dr. Duran-Aniotz face, the IBRO Parenthood Grants provides funds for covering research-related expenses, such as needed reagents and outsourcing experiments, for new parents during their parental leave. With this, the IBRO grant aims to empower researchers to navigate the balance between family-building and career progression. Below Dr. Duran-Aniotz tells us about her research and how the IBRO Parenthood Grant helped her continue her scientific endeavours.

At what stage of your career were you when you applied for the IBRO Parenthood Grant?

Back then and still, I am the co-director at the Latin American Brain Health Institute (BrainLat) and an associate professor at the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez. Additionally, I actively participate as a researcher in regional initiatives such as the Multi-partner Consortium to expand dementia research in Latin America (ReDLat) and the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium on Dementia (LAC-CD). Since 2010, my career has been dedicated to the study of neurodegenerative diseases, particularly dementia. In this context, I serve as the main researcher of various national and international projects I have led alongside my research team, focusing on dementias, risk factors, and peripheral biomarkers for early diagnosis.

What is your research about?

My laboratory is dedicated to advancing our comprehension of dementias, primarily focusing on Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) from a biomedical perspective. Currently, our research is centered on evaluating the impact of peripheral Tau aggregates, circulating in the blood, on the acceleration of neurodegenerative phenotypes associated with AD. Additionally, we are actively involved in an ambitious initiative to identify and characterize novel peripheral biomarkers. By characterizing these biomarkers, our objective is not only to provide valuable insights into the early detection of AD but also to customize our understanding to the distinct demographic and genetic characteristics of the Latin American community. Through these efforts, we strive to contribute significantly to advancing dementia research and care, and our overarching goal is to establish a robust translational platform that can significantly enhance multidisciplinary research efforts across Latin America.

What motivated you to apply for an IBRO Parenthood Grant?

I applied for the IBRO Parenthood Grant because I wanted to keep my research going while on maternity leave. I didn’t want any gender-based or mother-related stereotypes affecting my academic productivity. Being a scientist and woman in Latin America, I am faced with lots of challenges, such as limited government funding, political instability, and cultural discrimination against women. Despite all that, my passion for advancing neurodegeneration research is strong, and this grant from IBRO was a chance for me to proactively tackle the unique hurdles faced by women in neuroscience, especially here in Latin America.

How has the grant helped you? 

During my 6-months parental leave last year, I treasured the precious time spent with my newborn and my 7-years old son. Being present during those crucial early moments and supporting my family through the transition to life with a new family member was incredibly rewarding. However, I never completely stepped away from my work because it’s my passion. Thus, this grant played a crucial role in enabling me to prioritize the care of my newborn, by addressing other challenges that were exacerbated by my personal situation.

“The grant has really helped boost my career. Not only did it provide important financial support, but getting recognized by IBRO was an honor. This support allowed me to move forward with my research projects and expand my skills.”

What was the grant helpful for? 

The grant from IBRO was specifically allocated to purchase essential laboratory reagents and antibodies required for my research. These materials were essential to yield crucial data, unveiling interesting results and providing insights into the neurodegenerative effects of tau aggregates. 

Dr. Duran-Aniotz and her team in a social gathering

Do you have any recommendations for future applicants?

For future applicants, I recommend thoroughly reviewing the application guidelines and requirements before starting your application. Pay close attention to the specific criteria and ensure your application aligns effectively with the goals and focus of the grant. Take the time to clearly articulate your research goals and the potential impact of your work. Additionally, be meticulous in collecting and presenting the necessary data to support your application.

Join Dr. Claudia Duran-Aniotz and apply for an IBRO Parenthood Grant. Applications for the current open call are open until 15 March 2024.


If you are an IBRO awardee and would like to share your experience, contact the IBRO Communications team at communications@ibro.org.