Two of the most prestigious professorships in science have been awarded to women for only the third time in history.
Frances Ashcroft, whose pioneering work at Oxford University is revealing the molecular roots of diabetes, and Cheryll Tickle, a world leader in developmental biology at Dundee University, are to receive Royal Society research professorships.
Just two of the 54 scientists who have previously received the honour have been women. One of them was the Nobel laureate Dorothy Hodgkin.
The professorships provide up to 15 years of financial backing, which largely frees the holder from teaching and administrative duties.
"This fulfils a long-term ambition to be able to really devote myself to research," Professor Tickle said.
Professor Ashcroft said: "It will give meI sufficient time to sit and think about what my experiments mean and to plan new ones that are a bit more adventurous."
Both scientists want to see practical action to encourage and help more women to excel in science, an issue that is under discussion at the Royal Society.
The other professorships have been awarded to Simon Donaldson, a mathematician at Imperial College, London; Brian Hoskins, a climatologist and meteorologist at Reading University; and two Cambridge University experts - Tony Kouzarides, a molecular biologist, and Christopher Bate, a neurobiologist.