Appreciating International Women in Science Day.

Today we celebrate International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Many organisations aim to promote women and girls in science. Today HHT Ireland reminds us that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.

Over the next few days we will share interviews with you from some of our friends in HHT Europe.

Today, HHT Ireland talks to Petronella McLoughlin who is a HHT patient and has a career with MSD Ireland as a finite scheduler.


We are happy to celebrate Women in Science Day 2024 with a special interview with Petronella McLoughlin who is a Senior Finite Scheduler with MSD Biotech, Dublin.


  • Question 1: What triggered your passion for science?

I believe it was my mother who triggered my interest in science. She was a nurse who answered all my childish questions in medical terms and created a space where the wonders of the human body were explained in detail.

  • Question 2: How did you develop an interest in HHT?

I watched family members struggle with the symptoms – many without diagnosis. I became interested when I heard about HHT Ireland and the drive of this agency to raise awareness of HHT to ensure that patients get the answers and the diagnosis which will ensure they are better placed for treatment and planning their lives.

  • Question 3: How does your work impact the lives of patients with HHT?

I got involved with HHT Ireland and volunteered to be a scientific officer before my diagnosis. HHT Ireland have afforded me the opportunity to represent them in the Eurordis Community Advisory Board (CAB). It is exciting to be among those who influence therapeutical research, repurposing of medication and exploring what can be achieved with patient input at early stages.

  • Question 4: What struggles does a woman involved in science have to face?

I was lucky to have supportive parents, good teachers and in my initial workplace, I worked with strong dedicated women. I was fortunate to avoid the challenges and the attitudes in my early working life. When I moved to larger organisations, I faced the unconscious biases, the antiquated comments, the assumed incompetence and had to listen to misogynist jokes. However, it was a woman who attempted career sabotage which illuminated that sometimes it is not always gender bias which creates a challenge in the workplace. Sometimes it is just the competitive nature, blinkered vision and single-minded career-driven focus of a colleague.


  • Question 5: What message would you like to give to young girls interested in becoming scientists?

Trust your gut. Keep your long-term goal in sight. It’s easy to doubt your intuition if you continually run into obstacles, and obstacles might pop up more for women than for men. Do not ignore biased or inappropriate comments. They usually come from people who are insecure and incompetent. There is a wide variety of professional cultures, don’t settle for one that is unwelcoming and unrewarding. Be supportive of the efforts of others and encouraging when a colleague needs that extra push to develop themselves. Your mentor’s advice may not be right for you and that is fine too.

HHT Ireland would like to thank Petronella for her commitment to our Patient Organisation. We truly appreciate the work involved in her role on the HHT Community Advisory Board (CAB). We look forward to the year ahead and remain hopeful that continued research in the area of orphan drugs will yield even more positive results for so many patients living with HHT.