Every morning he goes to find his cells in the laboratory, looks at them under a microscope, feeds them and then begins the experiment: this is the extraordinary daily life of Marilou Cassini26-year-old researcher grantee Marie Curie which you see operate in different countries including Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
Since this is an EU-funded project, in fact, it is expected that many universities and companies will be involved in conducting the same research on atrial fibrillation – heart disease – through the use of stem cells.
His penchant for these unspecialized cells, capable of differentiating by specializing in one of the different types of cells in our bodies, has distant origins: “Although I never studied chemistry in high school, I tried the medical school entrance test. I failed. A fiasco and chemistry and pharmaceutical technology were a back-up that quickly became my passion. For the thesis, in fact, I ended up in a stem cell lab and it was love at first sight,” says the young researcher. Tracing the missing at a conference I organized with professor and senator for life Elena Cattaneo The moment he realized he was on the right track. “He explained to us how stem cells could be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases and many other important diseases – he remembers – but above all focused on the personality of the researcher who has a social and political duty to citizens.”
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Influenced by this sense of duty, but also by the desire to have experience abroad – where researchers enjoy greater economic and professional satisfaction – after a postgraduate internship in Germany, Cassini has been doing her PhD far from home, unfortunately, not investing enough in research .
In the laboratories of half of Europe
“After an initially difficult period in Valencia, during which it was difficult to get stem cells to work with, we went into the laboratory in Freiburg to the heart of the research: with my colleagues, we recreate the heart cells starting with pluripotent stem cells… This allows us to get cells A human heart, which then we reproduce the disease, specifically atrial fibrillation, to study and find a cure – which could take years – for this arrhythmia, he explains, defining this stage as the funniest.
In the lab with music by Amy Winehouse
He really enjoys himself, in the lab, listening to Amy Winehouse during experiments that sometimes last late into the evening or require hours to be spent in the dark with laser lights. And to make a subject like science, often very scary, and less difficult, I also became famous for science: “After always teaching Professor Cattaneo, I also decided to take part in posting on social media. I started in January of last year, in the period when they started Giving the first Covid vaccines, as I felt a duty to provide the right information, while confusion and false news spread,” says the young woman, who was recently awarded the L’Oreal-Unesco “Women in Science” award.
Viral experiments on Tik Tok
His “interpretations” about the researcher’s daily life quickly spread, in times of science and in his experiments, attracting, at the moment, 20,000 followers on Instagram and more than 60,000 followers on Tik Tok.
They are under 35, including science college students and researchers, but also young people who are curious to explore the world of science, made attractive by simple language, musical backgrounds and quick and ridiculous editing.
Recently, Cassini, who is openly gay, decided to expand his field of work, addressing issues such as the gender gap in the scientific world, low regard for the LGBT+ community and the inevitable discrimination and stereotypes, of which he is often a victim.
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“I am tired of constantly receiving comments about my piercings that, according to some, make me less credible, about my short hair, about my gender identity. Recently, during a science conference, the teacher, next to me, said out loud ‘I’m not anti-gay, but being gay now is fashion. LGBT lobbyists are also invading academia “and I’ve found myself having to manage the embarrassment of discrimination I’ve experienced in a professional context where it matters little about my physical appearance or my private life,” she adds, though no regrets about the prevailing gender gap also in The world of research, where never before have women or homosexuals held senior positions.
The gender gap is also in the research
She is proud to have become a “spokesperson” for many colleagues who find themselves in the same situation, but do not have the courage to stand up for their rights. So much so that, in the coming weeks, she will be among the protagonists of the #SHEU Leads campaign, promoted by the European Union to highlight young women who distinguish themselves in the sectors of innovation, research, culture and sports, with an aim for rights and inclusion.
She will create a video telling what it means to be a young researcher, a woman and a gay, in a context that she defines as “guilty”, but she will also focus on the change that you would like the scientific world to happen, at times, especially after the pandemic, discredited by the lack of connection True and transparent.
“I want a science that is more open to society, more inclusive, more based on collaboration between scientists from different backgrounds and not focused only on numbers and publications,” declared Marilo Cassini, an indomitable volcano, that he has also created a group, pH discomfortIt offers exchange of information, advice and support to colleagues across Europe and young people who wish to undertake these studies.
He concludes that “instability, and sometimes failed experiments, makes us researchers more susceptible to phenomena of depression, anxiety, stress and fatigue. Also on this problem, which is not often talked about, I intend to help”, while organizing the first live meeting of the group pH discomfort which he hopes will soon become an association in Italy, where, who knows, perhaps one day he will be reunited with his loved ones and his “dungeon”, with the same opportunities he currently has only abroad.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”
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