Frankreich: Annie Sasco

Try to be stubborn and keep on working, not be too discouraged when people say no. Trust that you can achieve something.

— Annie Sasco

Dr. Annie Sasco (born 1951) is a French medical doctor and renowned epidemiologist. Public Health was a vocation she chose in childhood. After medical school and public health training (two Masters degrees and a Doctorate in public health and epidemiology from Harvard), Annie pursued her research on tobacco and several cancers, which has been crucial in establishing links between smoking and breast cancer. Although her work has earned her enemies in the tobacco industry and criticism on diverse fronts, she perseveres.

Annie Sasco grew up in a traditional Basque family where she began her struggle demonstrating that women may be "at least as good as men though they do not receive equal recognition in many parts of the world, including France." At the age of four, she knew she wanted to be a doctor. By the time she was twelve, her sights were set: she would work with the World Health Organization. Annie's aim was to help the greatest number of people possible, all over the world, which she has indeed achieved, though at considerable personal costs. "[Not going into clinical practice] was a difficult choice as I missed out on rewards coming from satisfied patients. I still do. Statistics do not have that warm feeling." She is a co-founder of a Fair Trade café in France, and remains active in the school community, having recently supervised an extensive research program on adolescents and smoking. She strongly identifies with women’s issues, especially as her research, centered on breast cancer, requires sensitivity to women’s concerns. The facts motivating Annie are straightforward: ten million new cancer cases each year. Annie's tactic is to make information clear, and bring science home to government organizations and a wide public. She has no fear of transgressing borders, those between science and clinical work, or between the general population and information. As she puts it, she is a kind of translator. But she treads that fine line with difficulty: fellow scientists criticize her for being too close to activists, while activists rebuke her for being too traditional and not close enough to their projects! Information, or conveying knowledge about epidemiology is the means of translating science into prevention. There is a clear need for Annie's work in both China and on the African continent, where cigarette sales are on the increase.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)