“Voices of women in neuroscience”
Christina Dalla, PhD
Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Medical School, National and
Kapodistrian University of Athens
Vice-President of the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society
Past-president of the Hellenic Society for Neurosciences
Women in my family have always been resilient,
successful, living their lives to the fullest. My maternal grandmother came to
Athens as a war refugee fromConstantinople (today Istanbul) in 1919 – after having been
separated from her parents.She had a full life and died at the age of 96 having
supported her daughter to study Law and follow an academic career in bioethics.
She also helped to raise her grandchildren, my two sisters and myself, thus
allowing her daughter to lead a successful academic career. I remember my
grandmother always being a positive force empowering us to pursue our dreams. My
mother, an orphan from
father,was raised with
limited financial resources, but was dedicated to get an education and succeed. She gained a high
school scholarship toUSA and then returned to Greece where she studied law,
received a PhD in Bioethics and built a renowned career in Europe as an expert
in bioethics and policies. She died from cancer at the age of 58, passing the
familytorch to my sisters and me. She has truly been ever since my inspiration
to live and work giving my best self and valuing every moment of it.
I followed an academic career, as a
neuropsychopharmacologistand established an independent research program that
focuses on studying sex differences in models of depression and antidepressant
response. In the past year I had the pleasure to be involved as a scientist
expert in the European Union’s Research Integrity and Bioethics Unit. In this
role, I myself have broadened my scientific horizons and reconnected tomy
upbringing in a house of lawyers who frequently discussed about advocacy and policies
that safeguard the ethical conduct of the scientific enterprise. Thus,
reflecting on my career I have to admit that I had the best role model that
anyone can ask for: my mother.I hope I can be the same for my daughter, Dione.
In my career I was fortunate to have met
important women scientists who mentored and supported me. My PhD thesis advisor Dr. Z. Papadopoulou-Daifoti,
a Professor in the Medical School of Athens, introduced me,in 2000, tothe novel
fieldofsex differences in neuropsychopharmacology. During my career, in Greece I
was always surrounded by strong and successful women, as female scientists have
a strong presence in the Hellenic Society for Neurosciences. Later, in 2005 when
I moved to Rutgers University in New Jersey for my post-doctoral studies having
a Marie Curie fellowship, I was mentored by an extraordinaryscientist that truly
transformed my career, Prof. Tracey J. Shors. Anyone whohas met Tracey knows
that she is a remarkable woman, who has pioneered the importance of sex
differences in neuroscience. Tracey is not only a true scientist but an
inspiring mentor who motivates and transfers her enthusiasm for good science to
everyone around her! This is how I want
myself to lead my scientific endeavors. I was fortunate that Tracey connected
me to a network of extraordinary women neuroscientists whobecame my dear friends
and collaborators. To set the record straight, I did not live in a women-only
convent. I have always been surrounded by male peers and friends who have
supported me in my personal and professional life. These peers have broken down
past behaviors and consider women as equal partnersin the scientific endeavor.
Earlier in my career I did not face significant
professional issues due to my gender. My experiences changed when I joined the
Medical School of Athens, where I was recently promoted to the level of
Associate Professor. My administrative duties involved my participation in
committees at the Medical School, the National Medicines Organizations and at
the Ministry of Health. I realized early onthat as a young, “petite” woman, I
had to be twice more convincing, well-prepared and persuasivethan my male peers,
in order to express my professional opinion. However, I have learned to
overcome thesebackward - thinking attitudes by being confident, well prepared,
knowing my science well, and showing everyone firmly that I have an equal seat
on the table. It is a skill that needs to be acquired, sometimes -like in my case- also inherited… Perseverance and Resilience.
In the last years, my peers elected me as the
President of the Hellenic Society for Neurosciences and President-elect of the Mediterranean
Neuroscience Society, because they value my scientific path and my vision to
most effectively support a vibrant scientific network for all of us inthe
Mediterranean area. However, as a woman young scientist I face the same
challenges with my male peers primarily in securing adequate funding and
occasionally some conflicts. My message is for women and men scientists alike.
We manage to overcome problems and thrive when we have strong networks of
support around us: families, partners, friends, colleagues. Empowered we walk
I plan for an impactful future. To become a better
mentor for the younger generation, expand my research and translate my
discoveries to true gains for the well-being of men and women. I put special
emphasis onoutreach efforts to disseminate science beyond the boundaries of
academia and educate the public. For these efforts, I was recently honored to
be invited to join the DANA alliance for brain initiatives as a full member. Currently,
as Principal Investigator at the Medical School of Athens and as a member of
the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Preclinical Data Network, with
the support of a talentedand well-trainedteam, we thrive to push forward the
field of Psychopharmacology, with a strong focus on promoting women’s health. Employing
multidisciplinaryapproaches and collaborations that encompasses
Psychopharmacology, Neuroendocrinology and Psychiatry, we seek to grasp a bigger
picture and formulate new research hypotheses regarding sex differences in neurobiology
and their effects on drug development. My scientific mission is completed byteaching
and mentoring the next generation in the largestand oldest Medical School of Greece.
Additionally, as a member of the “Greek Women in Academia Association” and as aL’Oreal
- Unescoawardee, I advocate for women in sciences and academia.Through my work, mentorship, and the visibility
that my positions and awards have given me during the past few years, I hope that
I will be able to build more effectively a supporting environment for
scientific endeavour and innovation for the younger generation. I first-hand
see the damage that
takes place by the
“brain-drain” not only in Greece,but in the whole Mediterranean area. Conducting
great science, and creating equalopportunity for women and men scientists to
thrive is my mission.Acknowledgements
I would like to sincerely thank Dr. SpyridonMylonas
and Mrs Marianna Sidiropouloufor their valuable comments on this commentary. I
would also like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of the current and
past members of my research group, as well as our national and international
MNS awarded Best Poster and Best presentation prizes at the third IBRO-ARC workshop
"Central Nervous System Developmental Remodeling and
Faculty of Science, Alexandria University
EGYPT with the support of IBRO and MNS
17 to 19 December 2020
Alexandria University, Egypt
The workshop was held over three days from 17 to 19 December
2020 on Zoom platform. A group of young researchers from Egypt, Tunis, Morocco,
Lebanon, Jordan, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and India actively participated in
Furthermore, the sessions were delivered by distinguished
professors from Egypt, France, Malta, Nigeria and South Africa.
To maximize the benefit, the lectures were live-streamed over
two days through the portals of IBRO and MNS:
curriculum included ten sessions ranging from educational lectures and academic
research to the presentation of the opportunities available to students and the
current challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak, treatments from
cannabinoid-derivatives and its relation with the central nervous system.
also introduced the best methods of scientific publishing, with a commitment to
the ethics of scientific research and publication.
reviewed the opportunities available through the participating organizations.
covered three practical sessions on molecular biology techniques, western
blotting and brain anatomy.
also included competitions among young researchers on their research
presentations and the design of research posters.
concluded with a review of the results of the competitions, and MNS President
Prof. Giuseppe Di Giovanni awarded a financial prize (€150) funded by MNS to Mustapha
Oluwaseun from Nigeria for his excellence in all his contributions.
The first best
research presentation prize and the first best poster design were also funded
The best research presentation prize
The first prize (€150) was awarded
to Fatma Ahmed from Lebanon
The second prize was awarded to Nour-Eddine
Kaikai from Morocco as a certificate of appreciation
The third prize was awarded to Islam
Ayman from Egypt and as a certificate of appreciation
The best poster designs.
The first prize (€150) was awarded
to Sarah Mahfouz from Egypt
The second prize was awarded to Isaac
Henneh from Ghana as a certificate of appreciation
The third prize was awarded to Yvette
Nguizeye from Cameroon as a certificate of appreciation
concluded with congratulating on the success of the workshop and thanking all
funding organizations, lecturers, organizing committees, participants and
wishes of a happy new year.
As President of the Mediterranean Neuroscience Society I am honored to invite you to join the virtual meeting of the 3rd IBRO (International Brain Research Organization) IBRO Africa Regional Committee workshop: Central Nervous System Developmental Remodeling and Neuroplasticity.The workshop will be hosted by Faculty of Science in #Alexandria University, #Egypt between 17-18 December 2020. Part of the program will be shared live as indicated in the attached program. Please save the dates and join US according to the timeline… We want to thank Amira Zaky for its organization and her valuable support.Join us through the following channels: - https://www.facebook.com/IBROarc/- https://www.facebook.com/MedNeuroSociety/https://fb.me/e/a5NVAKMMq
Giuseppe Di GiovanniMNS President
Expires on January 02, 2021
Postdoctoral Researcher Bioinformatics/NeuroscienceUniversity of California, San Diego (UC San Diego)La Jolla, United StatesWe are looking for a postdoctoral researcher to join the labs of Drs. Christopher Benner and Francesca Telese in the Department of Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine.The candidate will work in an interdisciplinary environment at the intersection of bioinformatics and neurobiology, using cutting edge genomics profiling and analysis techniques to understand subsistence abuse disorders and addiction.Dr. Benner’s research program is largely focused on decoding the regulatory functions of the genome by developing and applying NGS methods and computational analysis across different biological systems. A major goal of the lab is to study the role of enhancer elements in transcriptional regulation and to investigate disease-associated genetic variation on enhancer function to better understand the impact that non-coding DNA has on regulatory networks.Dr. Telese’s research program is primarily focused on using molecular and next-generation sequencing (NGS) methods to study tissue- and cell type-specific gene regulatory mechanisms that contribute to susceptibility and development of substance use disorders, using animal models. A major goal of the lab is to generate novel hypotheses that can be tested using functional genetic tools to elucidate unknown disease mechanisms and to identify novel therapeutic targets.Successful candidates will be expected to lead a project investigating the molecular and genetic underpinnings of addiction. Using single cell technologies and other advanced NGS techniques, the candidate will be responsible for both data acquisition and analysis, with the goal of elucidating transcriptional networks in the brain and verifying their findings. The candidate will have direct access to an Illumina NextSeq sequencer and extensive computational resources. The candidate will receive training in both laboratories, which will include working on novel NGS techniques and the development of new bioinformatics software and tools to characterize changes in transcription, chromatin states and genome structure during different stages of addiction development. This project is funded by an NIH U01 grant. Candidates should have a strong background in genomics, and serious scientists that specialize in either experimental and/or computational work will be considered for the position.UCSD is part of a vibrant scientific community in Southern California and is committed to build a culturally diverse and inclusive environment. Applications from female and minority candidates are strongly encouraged.Please send a cover letter describing research interest and fit for this position, a recent CV, and contact information of at least two references to Drs. Telese Francesca email@example.com and Chris Benner firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear MNS Members,
The Mediterranean Neuroscience Society is
closely monitoring developments related to the rapidly evolving COVID-19
The health and safety of our members is the
number one priority of our society.
Several other conferences and workshops
have already made the decision to move to web-hosted events, while other
conferences have decided to either change venues, reschedule the event, or to
stay the course for now.
Due to the uncertainty caused by the
COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of having an in-presence conference
according the MNS’ aims, we have decided to cancel MNS2021, in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
The conference has been rescheduled to May 29-June 2, 2022 and will still be
held in Dubrovnik.
We want to keep all of you informed as best
as possible, please continue to check our website for updates about upcoming
conference and events.
Wishing you the very best,
Giuseppe Di Giovanni
Mediterranean Neuroscience Society