Pioneering Women in

Complement Research

As representatives of the complement community, it is our honor to award the first ‘Pioneering Women in Complement Research Award’ to Professors Patricia Creveling Giclas, Irma Gigli, and the late Jarmila Janatova.


This award was initiated to honor retired female members of the complement community for their major and long-lasting scientific impact on our research field – and to showcase key female complementologists as role models for the younger female scientists among us.


Our understanding of the biological pathways that underly human health and diseases is shaped by the countless scientists that constantly pushed and push the boundaries of our knowledge. For many decades, scientific research was dominated at the bench and in central academic leadership positions by male investigators. Women only broke slowly into these ranks and many of them had to work ‘double-hard’ to not only garner scientific success but to simultaneously raise children. Thus, ‘early’ independent female scientists, such as the awardees that we honor here, are true trailblazers and paved the way for the next generation of female scientists.


Whilst the names of famous women in history books that contributed vitally and cross-disciplinary to science is constantly increasing and the prospects of women in science have never been better than they are now, significant gender-based disparities remain, including disparities in recognition, salary, and funding (1). Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, that female scientists, particularly those at earlier career stages, remain unproportionally more vulnerable to ‘adverse events’: they most often bear the greater proportion of childcare and household responsibilities, which impacts negatively on their ability to do or direct lab work and to publish. Indeed, the numbers of biomedical publications with female first authors dropped by 19% and that of female senior authors by 5% this year (2).


Thus, in honor and the spirit of the Pioneering Women in Complement Research, this is a prime time for the complement community to come together and not only celebrate our awardees but to also protect particularly our next generation of female scientists – and actions of each single lab head or institute director can support this cause.


In the following are contributions from John P. Atkinson and Ashley Frazer-Abel that highlight the careers and contributions of Prof. Irma Gigli and Patsy Giclas, respectively. Sadly, Prof. Jarmila Janatova passed away on July 13th of this year. David Isenman and Andrea Tenner have composed a memorial to honor her life.


Claudia Kemper and Andrea Tenner


  1. Carr, P. L. et al. Gender differences in academic medicine: retention, rank, and leadership comparisons from the National Faculty Survey.  , 1694–1699 (2018)

  2. Andersen, J.P. et al. COVID-19 Medical Papers Have Fewer Women First Authors Than Expected. eLife Vol. 9, Article No. e58807 (2020)

Irma Gigli

Irma Gigli is Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas, Houston where she served as The Walter & Mary Mischer Distinguished Professor in Molecular Medicine, The Hans J. Müller-Eberhard Chair in Immunology, and the Director of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine Center for Immunology & Autoimmune Diseases.  Read More...

Patricia Creveling Giclas

It was my honor to nominate Patricia C. Giclas for the Pioneering Women in Complement award and I was delighted to hear she was chosen as an awardee with such distinguished company as Dr. Gigli and Dr. Janatova.  Read More...




JAN 09, 1939 - JUL 13, 2020


After a prolonged illness, on July 13, 2020 our dear friend and colleague Dr. Jarmila Janatova died at her home in Salt Lake City, UT.  With her passing, the complement field has lost an extraordinary biochemist, one who played a very prominent role in the discovery of the thioester bond in C3 and C4, the entity at the heart of their ability to covalently attach to foreign targets. Read More...

ICS Pioneer Women


-To showcase female complementologists as role models for the early career female scientists in the field.


-To honor the female members of the complement community for their impactful research contributions.



-Recognized and presented a certificate at the ICW 2021 Berlin

-One-page article in the FoC Newsletter

-Highlighted on the ICS website



-Female candidates that have made major contributions to complement research

-Must be retired and/or not currently active in research