On the occasion of International Women Day and the ongoing #WomenInScience campaign, we want to celebrate the amazing women of GenoMed4All.
And that’s why we sat down with our colleague Marilena Bicchieri, GenoMed4All’s Scientific Coordinator and Healthcare Project Manager at Humanitas Research Hospital. Here’s what she had to say about her role in our project, together with her experience building a successful and meaningful career and navigating the highs and lows of STEM as a woman.


What is your role as a scientific coordinator: from both a personal and professional point of view?

As scientific coordinator, my role is both stimulating and challenging. From a professional perspective, I am responsible for keeping up-to-date with the progress of the project and identifying any gaps or needs of each involved partner to ensure the project moves forward smoothly and efficiently. I serve as a bridge between the technical experts and the clinicians, who often have different perspectives. Therefore, I must be able to understand both points of view and effectively communicate shared information.

From a personal perspective, I understand the importance of constantly learning and improving to excel in my role. By continually enhancing my knowledge and skills, I can provide valuable feedback, advice, and insights to my colleagues, helping to steer the project in the right direction. I am also driven by my ambition to achieve outstanding results, which motivates me to stay proactive and engaged every day.

What is your experience in GenoMed4All? (As part of a team? Your vision of the project as a whole?)

GenoMed4All is an ambitious project that requires a high level of expertise and coordination across a diverse group of partners. As a member of the team, I feel privileged to be part of such a dedicated and talented group of individuals. The consortium is composed of experts from various fields, including researchers, clinicians, technical experts, and industry partners, who all bring unique perspectives and skills to the table.

Working together as a team is essential to the success of the project, and I believe that everyone is committed to this shared goal. While it can be challenging to stay on the same track, the sense of unity and purpose within the team makes the difference. I am continually impressed by the dedication and professionalism of everyone involved in the project.

I believe that GenoMed4All has the potential to be a game-changer in the field of personalized medicine, thanks to the exploitation of -omics data, and will provide one of the first federated platform implementation in the healthcare sector. By leveraging the latest advances in AI technology and applying them to the study of haematological diseases, we can gain new insights on diagnosis and prognosis while developing more effective treatments with the ultimate goal to improve patient outcomes and quality of life.  This is incredibly motivating for everyone involved and I am excited to be part of this initiative and look forward to seeing the impact that it will have on the field of haematology and technology.

Could you share some of the main challenges (and highlights!) you have experienced in your career?

As women in STEM, I feel incredibly fortunate to have had a positive, supportive and respectful environment throughout my career. However, it’s important to consider that being a woman in a male-oriented society can come with additional challenges, such as breaking stereotypes and biases.

I’ve sometimes had to work hard to prove myself which, as positive effect, has helped me to grow stronger and more resilient. Indeed, it is important to focus on the rewards that come with overcoming these challenges rather than feeling defeated. Many steps forward have been made in our society and what I have experienced is the result of many years of battles for woman emancipation. I still believe that pursuing a career in STEM can be demanding and require a great deal of responsibility, but with the right approach and a commitment, it can also be incredibly rewarding.

To succeed in STEM, it is essential to be motivated.  Motivation will lead you to be open to learning, taking on new challenges, and importantly being willing to take risks. Self-improvement is crucial, as it allows you to grow and develop your skills and expertise.  Lastly, setting clear goals and working towards them is necessary to stay focused and driven.

What would be your inspiring words to encourage girls and women to pursue the STEM path?

One of the important advice I would give to girls and women committed to a STEM career is to be brave. Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges, even if they seem daunting at first and never be afraid to drive important decisions. Surround yourself with supportive colleagues and mentors, who can help guide you along the way. And remember that the work you do in STEM can have a significant impact on the world around you: by pursuing a career in STEM, you have the opportunity to make a real difference and drive important advancements in science and technology.

I encourage all girls and women interested in STEM to follow their passions and believe in themselves. By doing so, we can keep up to break down the barriers that still exist in the field and pave the way for a more diverse and inclusive STEM community, especially in the most impactful apical roles, where the presence of women is significantly statistically underrepresented.

The world needs more female scientists, engineers, and innovators at the top of the society and I am confident that the next generation of girls will continue to make important contributions to the field.

 


Interview courtesy of Marilena Bicchieri, PhD – Healthcare Project Manager at Humanitas Research Hospital