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MNS portrait #1 - Christina Dalla
MNS portrait #1 - Christina Dalla
“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 the 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 continuous scientific “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 collaborators.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jnr.24602



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MNS Best Poster and Best presentation prizes at IBRO-ARC
MNS awarded Best Poster and Best presentation prizes at the third IBRO-ARC workshop "Central Nervous System Developmental Remodeling and Neuroplasticity" Faculty of Science, Alexandria University EGYPT with the support of IBRO and MNS 17 to 19 December 2020 Alexandria University, Egypt Virtual Workshop    
The Workshop 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 this event. 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: https://www.facebook.com/IBROarc https://www.facebook.com/MedNeuroSociety/   The workshop 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. The workshop also introduced the best methods of scientific publishing, with a commitment to the ethics of scientific research and publication. The workshop reviewed the opportunities available through the participating organizations. The workshop covered three practical sessions on molecular biology techniques, western blotting and brain anatomy. The prizes The workshop also included competitions among young researchers on their research presentations and the design of research posters.   The workshop 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 by MNS.   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 The workshop 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.
3rd IBRO-ARC Virtual workshop: Central Nervous System Developmental Remodeling and Neuroplasticity.
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
Postdoctoral Researcher Bioinformatics/Neuroscience University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego)
Expires on January 02, 2021
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Dear MNS Members,
The Mediterranean Neuroscience Society is closely monitoring developments related to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. 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 President
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