Biology

Women, science and leadership, a conversation with Ilaria Capua

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.

Vegetarian or vegan? A choice concerning not only you

With a growth rate of 1.5 percent in 15 years, in 2014 Italian vegetarians and vegans are about 4 million, according to Eurispes report. Vegetarians avoid eating meat, while vegans follow a stricter regime with the absence not only of meats, but also of products originated from animals. After centuries of omnivorous diet, may these new habits have consequences or benefits for our body?

When excellence comes home

Two aspects remain etched firmly after a talk with Andrea Lunardi and Graziano Martello, two "made in Italy" brains that have decided to return to work in Italy after years of research abroad. First, go abroad tout court is not an essential step; the difference is choosing centres of excellence abroad. Second: a PhD in Italy is a great resource, not to be missed, as long as you choose a good group to work with.

Bioscience in Europe, which role for Italy?

Adriano Buzzati Traverso will be remembered as scientist, professor and, above all, as manager of a research with no boundaries: during his frequent journeys abroad - on this or the other side of the Atlantic - he rapidly realized that bioscientific research in Italy had to get rid of any provincialism, empowering the exchanges with more advanced countries. Establishing the International Laboratory of Genetics and Biop

Are We in the Sixth Mass Extinction?

Are plants intelligent? It would seem so, judging by the program of the new edition of “Evolution Day”, dedicated to the marvelous world of plants and their "intelligence" (Milan, Museum of Natural History, February 10-12th.Scienzainrete will perform the live streaming of the event). In the international panel of speakers stands the Finn Ilkka Hasski, probably the greatest living ecologist (winner of Balzan Prize 2011, and of the Crafoord Prize).

The app for playing with 3-D molecules structure

Molecules is an application for viewing three-dimensional renderings of molecules and manipulating them using your fingers. You can rotate the molecules by moving your finger across the display, zoom in or out by using two-finger pinch gestures, or pan the molecule by moving two fingers across the screen at once. These structures can be viewed in both ball-and-stick and spacefilling visualization modes.

Stem cells: between science and ethics

The Italian Constitution guarantees scientific freedom. Based on this affirmation, seemingly simple and obvious, the Document issued by the Commission on ethical problems, posed by the science of the Waldensian Church, reiterates what should be considered a fundamental point in the debate, today more fervent than ever, regarding scientific research on human embryonic stem cells.

Aesthetic appreciation: gender difference

Much work has been carried out to identify the neural correlates of the appreciation of beauty of faces, visual art, dance and music (Aharon 2001; Cela-Conde 2004; Jacobsen 2006; Kawabata 2004; O'Doherty 2003; Rhodes 2007; Senior 2003; Vartanian 2004). However, two important issues remain elusive. On the one hand, the possibility of differences between men and women, and on the other, the evolutionary forces that may have shaped this human capacity.

The molecular basis of monogamy

The pioneering work in the field of pair bonding by Thomas Insel and his group (Insel and Young 2001, Young and Wang 2004) has documented  the marked rise in the density of the oxytocin receptors all over the entire nuc acumbens and the dorsal striatum of the monogamous prairie vole compared with the polygamous montane vole.

Can our children inherit traits which we acquire during our

Already half a century ago, the American biologist Tracy Morton Sonneborn (1905 - 1981) observed that the single-cell animal Paramecium aurelia can transmit acquired surface scars to its offspring. During sexual reproduction, two Paramecium partners line up side by side and form a tunnel between them through which they exchange their DNA. When they separate again, each partner regains its normal surface. But sometimes this separation is faulty and one partner retains a snippet of the other's surface.

GMO-regulation prevents “Golden Rice” from saving lives

Rice is the major diet for over 2 billion poor in developing countries. It is an excellent source of calories, but does not contain any pro-vitamin A.

The consequence is widespread vitamin A deficiency in rice-depending populations which are to poor to buy a diversified diet. Since the early 90's the concept of ‘bio-fortification' is gaining attention, which is exploiting the potential of genetics for an improvement of the micro-nutrient content of major crops.