In love with Reunion Island, where she grew up and where she returned after working for a few years in Paris, the thirty-something found an essential ingredient in the island’s vegetable riches: ambaville. This medicinal plant listed in the French pharmacopoeia is well known to the “tisaneurs” of Reunion Island, who prescribe it as an infusion to treat skin or digestion problems. Anne-Laure Morel took over this remedy from grandmother, but for a much more scientific use. “As a materials chemist, I have taken a fresh look at ambaville, which has a high concentration of antioxidant molecules. It serves as a bio-reducer for the manufacture of gold nanoparticles,” she explains.
Reunion Island National Park, which has more than 1,600 native plant species, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010. “Our volcanic island is not only a tourist paradise, it’s also a biodiversity hotspot and my work allows me to enhance this,” she says.
Located to the east of Madagascar, 9,000 kilometers from Paris, Réunion has another major interest for scientists: an advantageous fiscal framework, with an increased research tax credit and exemptions from employer contributions which have greatly facilitated the hiring of researchers. The region is also heavily subsidized by the European Union.