At the outbreak of the pandemic, the luxury and fashion houses immediately mobilized in the fight against the spread of the epidemic, some converting production to the production of masks, gloves and anti-covid devices, some helping hospitals on the front line and some financing research.

Bulgarians has shown its commitment to fighting the virus in all three ways.

“We reacted immediately,” says Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of the Bulgari Maison. “We funded the purchase of a high-tech microscope for the National Institute for Infectious Diseases of the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital in Rome – the first to isolate the virus in less than 48 hours. We converted our fragrance production into sanitizing gels for hands donated to various hospitals in Italy, Switzerland and the UK, and in late spring we created the Bvlgari Virus Free Fund, a financial program to support high-profile institutions such as the Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford, Rockefeller University and the ‘National Institute for Infectious Diseases still at the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital (since our headquarters is in Rome) – all committed to pursuing innovative research strategies for the remission and treatment of different types of viruses ”.

Here then is the reason for the meeting on January 19, entitled Innovating the present for a sustainable future, a conversation on the fundamental role of women in the fight against the virus that has so marked our present and risks deeply affecting our future. Babin, alongside Eleonora Rizzuto, Head of Ethics and Compliance, CSR director of the Bvlgari Group and of the Italian brands LVMH, wanted to meet some scientists engaged in this research battle that focused on the one hand on the identification of a vaccine and on the another on the development of new therapies and drugs for the treatment of people affected by the virus.

Among them, Katie Ewer, Associate Professor and Senior Immunologist at the Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford – who thanks to Bulgari was able to purchase a state-of-the-art flow cytometer – said the challenge of developing the Astra Zeneca vaccine, which will play a key role in curbing the spread of COVID-19 around the world. One of the important features of this formulation, in fact, is that it has a lower price and can be stored at less rigid temperatures, which makes its distribution easier even in the poorest countries. And above all that it could be effective against future variants of the virus.

Jenner Institute

© John Cairns

Funding does not end with the launch of the vaccine: the Bvlgari Virus Free Fund launched two scholarships covering four years of PhD which will support PhD and postdoctoral students active in COVID-19 research. Rebecca Makinson and Cameron Bissett were the first beneficiaries of the Bvlgari Scholarship introduced last October.

Then the word was passed to Leslie Vosshall, neurobiologist and head of the Neurogenetics and Behavior Laboratory at Rockefeller University in New York who, since the beginning of the pandemic, has dedicated 25 laboratories specialized in infectious diseases and immunology for the study of the virus and the development of treatments. “It was really important to our institution,” Vosshall said, “the creation of the Bulgari Women and Science Fellowship in COVID-19 Research for the benefit of female researchers. Thanks also to this, there are over 75 female scientists currently working in these laboratories and their studies have already led to the development of newly developed drugs based on neutralizing antibodies which will soon enter clinical trials. He specifically talked about the development of diagnostic tests for loss of smell and taste, which is an early symptom of COVID-19.

Bvlgari then selected three female fellows from all over the world who will work with key members and students of Rockefeller University to continue developing their scientific research: Peruvian Sandra Nakandakari who is using a new technique that allows for the first time monitoring of interactions between cells in vivo and therefore to understand the rules that determine how protective the antibodies that are produced against infectious agents will be; the Israeli Inna Ricard-Lax who with her research managed to designing self-replicating SARS-CoV2 genomes, ensuring additional safety as they lack the genes needed to make the virus infectious. And the German Frauke Muecksch who played a fundamental role in the development of a simplified and rapid method to measure in hundreds of samples of cured COVID-19 patients, the level of neutralizing antibodies which can prevent the virus from infecting the body’s cells again.

© 2015 Scott Rudd

Rebecca Makinson and Frauke Muecksch attended the webinar and talked about their personal experience as female scientists, sharing their dreams and projects. Rebecca recalled the excitement of when the official results of the Oxford vaccine tests were announced, while Frauke recounted the incredible opportunity she had in working with other talents on her campus, without any barriers between the different teams. of research.

“If we look back to antiquity,” Babin said, “we can count a total of about 20 female scientists. Today, university researchers, working in the most disparate fields, exceed 50%. We believe it is important to continue to make a difference and to guarantee a decisive contribution by offering concrete opportunities to women who can hold important roles in the world of science and research. “

Eleonora Rizzuto explains how Bvlgari’s commitment to diversity and female empowerment also takes shape within her organization through the principles of her Code of Conduct, inspired by the United Nations guidelines on female empowerment. “We are a company deeply focused on respecting individuality and building a rich and diverse community”, said Rizzuto, “And I am proud to share this figure with you: 62% of Maison Bvlgari’s international managers are women” .

Moreover, the parent company, the LVMH Group, has always pursued this goal through three concrete actions:

  1. 1

    The EllesVMH program aims to bring together women of different generations, brands and backgrounds, to help them grow and progress within the Group.

  2. 2

    SHERO is an internal digital platform to enhance gender equality and to equip the women of the Group with the practical and inspirational content necessary to progress within the organization.

  3. 3

    Furthermore, as part of the commitment to promote diversity and inclusion, specific training is offered to employees to prevent prejudice and unwitting stereotypes.

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