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“The Fondazione EBRI Rita Levi-Montalcini, in partnership with the MAECI, hosts in Rome Afghan students for scientific research”

Rome 9 February 2022 – A project to host in Rome Afghan female students was launched by the Fondazione EBRI (European Brain Research Institute) Rita Levi-Montalcini to give back to the young female students – who saw the option of pursuing their studies and research activities in their Country suddenly vanish – the possibility of continuing their studies and research projects in the hope of a better future. The first young student has already arrived in Italy and other researchers are being selected.

The EBRI project is in line with the idea of giving women support and empowerment, promoted and carried out throughout her life by Prof. Rita Levi-Montalcini, and is organized in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, by relying on the generous sponsorship of TIM, Angelini Pharma and Unidata, while seeking other sponsors in order to extend the scope of the initiative.

“We are very grateful to the EBRI Foundation and to all those who made this important project possible,” said Ambassador Pasquale Terracciano, Director General for Public and Cultural Diplomacy at the Italian Foreign Ministry. He continued: “It will enable a young and worthy Afghan researcher to continue her research studies at a recognized Italian centre of excellence. Ever since the outset of the Afghan crisis, the Italian civil society has given evidence of great solidarity. The Farnesina is at the service of this concerted effort in order to make it possible, through a coordinated effort, to rationalize and diversify the type of offer, and concretize the legitimate aspirations for a better future of young Afghan men and women.”

The first researcher was found with the help of the Third World Academy of Science (TWAS, Trieste) and is already in Italy. She has a university degree in Physics and is due to begin her activity at EBRI next June, joining several projects to investigate the brain currently ongoing at the EBRI (big data analysis, artificial intelligence applied to Neuroscience, analysis of electrical and optical signals in the brain) to combat serious neurodegenerative pathologies – including Alzheimer – and neurodevelopmental disorders that affect millions of people all over the world.

“EBRI strongly believes in this project – explained Professor Antonino Cattaneo, member of the Accademia dei Lincei, and President of EBRI – that gives female researchers the possibility of furthering their aspirations and our Foundation the opportunity to confirm its international projection. This is the reason why we don’t want to stop here and instead intend to assure continuity to the support given to young Afghan women by seeking additional partners to join this initiative of great scientific and humanitarian substance.”

For EBRI, the Afghan students will also represent a way of potentially enriching its research. “We are certain that the girls will be able to greatly contribute to the Foundation’s projects and, for us at EBRI, it will be an exciting experience of cultural, scientific, and human cross-fertilization,” said Professor Enrico Cherubini, Scientific Director at EBRI. He added: “We are very happy to be able to offer young Afghan female researchers the possibility of being able to continue their studies at EBRI, an Institute that has always had its focus on women and scientific research.”

Professor Salvatore Rossi, President of the TIM Foundation, commented: “The project promoted by the Fondazione EBRI Rita Levi-Montalcini, in addition to representing a contribution to science and to the right to education, is an important tribute to Afghan women. Through this donation, the TIM Foundation – which has always supported the most fragile population segments and social inclusion projects – intends to stand by young students so that they may realize their educational dreams. We believe that this project represents a tangible opportunity to promote gender equality and improve the life experience of students who will be able to look at the future with greater hope.”

The important human, scientific, and social value underlying this project was underscored by Dr Agnese Cattaneo, Chief Medical Officer at Angelini Pharma, who explained how “this initiative promotes a two-way exchange in which we offer young Afghan women a concrete opportunity of personal and professional growth while they enrich Italian research at a cultural and human level, offering all of us and our students an example of resilience, courage, and passion for studying and knowledge. As a physician, manager and woman, I am happy and proud to be able to contribute, together with my company, to this important project to support women in the study of science and in their right to education.”