It’s a question that has concerned Western society since the women’s liberation movement: is it really possible to be successful both at work and at home? When applied to women in the field of science, the question takes on various dimensions. We talked with Ilaria Capua, the Director of the Division of Comparative Biomedical Sciences at the Istituto Zooprofilattico delle Venezie, and Member of the Italian Parliament, about this challenge, the importance teaching women leadership skills and what the world learned from the Ebola outbreak.
Scientific research institution
It calls itself “a knowledge hub”, a place where people from developing countries can share and learn at the top level. It is located in Trieste, Italy. Founded by a Nobel Laureate, it is funded (almost) by a single country, but ruled by two outstanding international organizations. It has already a great fame, due its scientific excellence and its role in promoting and educating the best young scientists from all over the world.
On July 22nd, all the European Ministers for Research were in Milan to lay the foundation stone of the European Network for Research, an international coordination that will involve 800 amongst the largest research centres of excellence in Europe, such as CERN and the Elettra Synchrotron in Trieste.
The last January 14th, the European Research Council (ERC) allocated 575 million euro within the first ERC Consolidator Grants competition: 312 grants for excellence research projects, with an average funding of about 1.84 million euro each.
Milan may be considered one of the main centers of Italian research, at least in its international and cooperative dimension, as it is demonstrated by the data regarding the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) that Scienceonthenet have analyzed(1). From such data, the great research centers of Milan clearly stands out, especially in the fields of biomedicine, energy and information technology, but there are also hundreds of small enterprises that collaborate with partners from abroad, in a “Europe of knowledge” that is still to be fully discovered.
Quantifying the importance of a research center is a complex task. It is difficult to find an agreement on evaluation metrics – such as publications, funds or the number of researchers – for the results obtained.
Telethon Scientific and Medical Committee assigned few days ago the new grants for 2013. Projects selection is extremely rigorous and articulate: Telethon, in fact, follows the same process of the US National Institute of Health, which only honours merit and is considered the best in the world. Scientific publications from Telethon Research, on average, obtain 60% more citations than the US average (based on Thomson Reuters citation-index calculations).
The announcement was made just a few days ago about the discovery of a never previously observed baryon, with a mass close to that of the lithium atom. Physicists Claude Amsler, Vincenzo Chiochia and Ernest Aguilò of CERN in Geneva "played" with the LHC, the same tool used for the Higgs boson search. Researchers say the discovery of the second of three baryons composed of usb quarks is important to confirm the theory that explains how quarks bind together and how the strong force, one of the four forces existing in nature, helps creating these elusive particles.
I thought about what could be done usefully to compare the Italian and British Universities systems, but it’s a daunting task. But I can’t help noticing how many of your colleagues have worked at British and US universities and probably, between yourselves, you have enough insight. But there are important themes. The following is somewhat digressive and I hope some of you might have the patience to read it to the end.
In his recent article on Scienzainrete, Pier Mannuccio Mannucci mentioned it as a positive example. The Gruppo 2003 also cited it as a good practice in its Manifesto for a scientific research revival in Italy. What we're talking about is the evaluation system adopted by Telethon to fund research projects.
Nerviano Medical Sciences (NMS), a centre at the cutting edge of pharmaceutical research in the field of oncology, is in danger of closure, leaving 650 researches unemployed. While other countries invest millions of euros in such places of excellence, Italy is on the brink of letting one of their top research institutes close. This centre is indispensable for the country and for all those affected by cancer. It is inconceivable that such a place is on the brink of closure. We must save Nerviano Medical Sciences.