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In this new series of IMPETUS Interviews, we will be looking back at the projects which were highlighted by the 2023 European Prize for Citizen Science, to discuss the great work these projects are doing to address societal issues, how they use citizen science practices, and where their project is heading, six months after the awards.

In our first interview, we have the absolute pleasure of talking with Sarah Ahannach, Co-founder and Project Manager of the Grand Prize-winning, Isala project.

Isala is the world’s largest citizen science project on women’s health studying the female microbiome and its influence on our health and wellbeing. Isala has both scientific and societal goals, such as finding better forms of diagnostics and therapeutics, but also raising greater awareness of vaginal and reproductive health. Named after the first female doctor in Belgium, Isala Van Diest (1842–1916), the project draws inspiration not only from Isala Van Diest’s legacy as a pioneering medical practitioner committed to women’s health but also from her role as a feminist and activist campaigning for women’s rights.

The transdisciplinary Isala team and advisory board incentivise innovative research methodologies and scalable scientific results. In addition, the Isala citizen scientist is also part of the extended research and communication team as they suggest research endeavours and actively engage as ambassadors for vaginal health and women’s wellbeing.

Learn more in our IMPETUS interview- Mapping vaginal microbiome with Citizen Science: