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Results: 452

Monica Zoppé

STEM area: Biomedical sciences and biotechnology

Competences: Grafical Representation of Cellular, Molecular and Structural Biology, Interdisciplinary Research, Molecular Biology, Structural Biology, Women and Science

Keywords: 3D Computer Graphic, gender and science, molecular animation, structural biology

Region: Lombardy


Researcher at Institute of BioPhysics of the Italian National Council of Research, Milan

Professional career

After graduating in Biology, in 1987 in Milan, she moves for a series of post-docs in different laboratories in Italy (CNR, ICGEB of Trieste) and abroad (UK, Biochemistry Department at the University of Birmingham, and USA, at the Salk Institute, in the laboratory of Inder Verma).

After 15 years in several laboratories, she gets a position as a researcher at the Institute of Clinical Physiology (IFC) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) of Pisa. Here after a short period, following a serious accident, of which she is not responsible, she is forced to leave the laboratory.

She then embarks on a new phase of her scientific career, dedicating to Biological Representation, with the idea of virtually recreating the cellular world using the techniques developed in the field of Computer Graphics (film, video and video games). Today the discipline is recognized as 'Molecular Graphics'. In 2006 she founded the Scientific Visualization Unit at IFC, and obtained the first funding, with which she obtained the scientific results listed below. In 2019 she moves to Milan at the Institute of BioPhysics of the CNR. In this period, she starts a collaboration with groups of Cuban computer scientists, bioinformaticians and biologists, with whom she has active and funded projects, always related to the visualization, in this case of the Dengue virus.

Today Monica Zoppé is considered a pioneer of the 'Art and Science of Scientific Visualization', and is recognized as one of the major theorists of the field, often invited to mostly international conferences and meetings.

In parallel, she also actively participates in the Donne e Scienza (Women and Science) association, she is a member of the board since few years. It is in the context of this activity that she contributed substantially to the organization of the European #WeTooInScience congress, held in Pisa in 2018.

Scientific results

The results obtained in the experimental biology field are documented in the publications available online on the ORCID website.

For the works in the 'Molecular Graphics' field, the main result is the transposition into a graphic system, therefore visible, of the molecular world which is a very rich world, indeed in cells operate specific and different forces: for example, gravity does not count while thermal vibration counts, and many of the forces at play can be calculated as potentials (electrical, lipophilic, osmotic and thermodynamic flows), for which we have no visual perception. 

In detail, the main results obtained in this area can be summarized as follows:

  • development of the theoretical and operative bases of the new discipline, scientific visualization, dedicated to the narrative of the cellular and molecular biology
  • foundation of the interdisciplinary working group Scientific Visualization:;
  • development and release of multiple versions of BioBlender, a tool that allows one to introduce rigorous scientific data in Blender, one of the most advanced Computer Graphics tools, and the only completely Open Source, developed for cinema and video games;
  • Production of a series of short cellular animations, all freely available on the website and on the major channels, which have obtained important awards both in the scientific, cinematographic and technical fields (see list);
  • introduction to the concept of a visual code with which to represent invisible, not unknown, elements.

Editorial work and publications

[2019] Zoppè, Monica G. Improving Gender Diversity in ScienceIn #WeTooInScience - Sexual Harassment in Higher Education Institutions and Research Organizations, CNR-IRPPS e-Publishing 235–41. Rome, Italy.

[2019] Zoppè, M., Loni,T., Carlone,I., Cianchetta,S.. Making of The Dark Anim: Technical and Scientific Notes. In 2019 International Conference on Cyberworlds (CW), 45–52. Kyoto, Japan: IEEE, 2019

[2018]  Caudai, C., Salerno, E., Zoppè, M. and Tonazzini, A.  ChromStruct 4: A Python Code to Estimate the Chromatin Structure from Hi-C Data. IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. 

[2017] Zoppè, M  Towards a perceptive understanding of cellular biology.  Nat Meth 14(7): 662-665 .

[2015] Zoppè, M  La sindrome dell’impostore: Non sono davvero brava come sembra. In: Scienza, genere e società. Prospettive di genere in una società che si evolve. S. Avveduto, M. L. Paciello, T. Arrigoni, C. Mangia, L. Martinelli (eds.). Roma: CNR-IRPPS e-Publishing. 

[2015] Zoppè, M. and Loni, T. The Representation of Electrostatics for Biological Molecules. In: W. Rocchia and M. Spagnuolo (eds.), Computational Electrostatics for Biological Applications, Springer International, Switzerland. 215-225.

[2014] Zoppè, M. Comunicare l’invisibile. La rappresentazione visiva di concetti biofisici / Communicating the Invisible. The Visual Representation of Biophysical Concepts. In: Scrittura e immagini nel dominio della scienza / Text and Image in the sicentific realm. A cura di/Edited by: R. Falcinelli, A. Filippini, G. Liberti, L. Perondi e L. Romei. Progetto Grafico, 25:50 

[2012] Andrei, R., Callieri, M., Zini, M.F., Loni, T., Maraziti, G. and Zoppè, M. Intuitive representation of surface properties of proteins using BioBlender. BMC Bioinformatics, 13(Suppl 4):S16

[2011] Zoppè, M. Vedere l'invisibile. Le Scienze – Italian version of Scientific American. Roma, 515: p. 64-9. 

Selection of VIDEO

[2015] The Dark Anim, (5', 23''). A description of the serotoninergic synapse, and its activity in the healthy and depressed states. With subtitles in English, French and Italian.

[2012] TSH receptor on Red Blood cells, 2011 (3', 48''). Thyrotropin is a hormone that elicit response from thyroid gland. However, its receptor is also found on the surface of red blood cells. After binding, the dimeric receptor splits into two subunits, each of which leaves the lipid raft to associate with other proteins of the cellular surface. 

[2010] PROTEIN EXPRESSIONS - Study N.3 (5', 01''). The video, also produced in 3D, is the final one in a series of tests in the development of BioBlender. It shows several moments of cellular life, from the surface to the cytoplasm and back to cell periphery and out. Watched >70.000 times (Vimeo statistics).

Awards and prizes

The video PROTEIN EXPRESSIONS- Study n.3  has been awarded in several occasions:

[2009] Suzanne Award of the  Blender Foundation, Amsterdam 2009

[2010] Prize of the Jury, at Melzo Film Festival, Milan. Italy. 2010

[2011] Selected as finalist at DogVille-Viladecan Film Festival, Barcelona, Spain. 2011

[2012], First prize.  NANOPLANET was awarded the First Prize in the  ‘Art&Science contest’ at BioPhysical Society meeting, San Francisco (CA. USA).

[2013]  The video The Challenge of HIV Research, reached the Fourth classification in the 'AutoPACK visualization contest’ by the Computer Graphics Society – Autodesk.

[2018] Invitation to the restricted Shonan Meeting on ‘Web Molecular Graphics: Emerging

Technologies & Standards’, Japan. 

Francesca Zoratto

STEM area: Biomedical sciences and biotechnology

Competences: Behavioural Neuroscience, Ethology

Keywords: animal behaviour, basic research, collective anti-predator behaviours, gamble, human behaviour, preclinical research, predation, risk appetite

Region: Lazio


Research Scientist at the Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Mental Health, Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), Rome 

Professional career

After graduating in Ecological Biology from the University of Parma in 2005, she continued her studies and in 2008 obtained a Master's degree in Ecology with a focus on Animal Behaviour at the same university. In 2013 she obtained a PhD in Ethology, Animal Ecology and Anthropology at the University of Florence. In 2014 she has a 14-month project research contract at the Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù (RM), research area "Multifactorial diseases and complex phenotypes", the following year she wins a Noopolis Foundation scholarship to work at the Department of Behavioural Neuroscience of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the same Department hosts her also the following year. In 2016 she won the "L'Oréal-UNESCO Prize for Women and Science", thanks to which she carried out research at the Institute of Cognitive Science and Technology of the CNR. Today she is a Researcher at the Reference Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Mental Health of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS).

Scientific results

Francesca Zoratto's research interests range from ethology, the study of animal behaviour, to understanding human behaviour. Her latest research project at the Cognitive Primatology Unit of the Institute of Cognitive Science and Technology (ISTC) of the CNR tests the social modulation of risk-taking in two different animal species, monkeys and rats. The main aim of this and other studies is to apply the findings in the field of ethology to human behaviour, specifically to the world of pathological gambling. Risk-taking is not unique to humans, and studying animal behaviour under the same conditions can help to better understand the psycho-biological mechanisms that underlie our addictions. Increasing knowledge in the field of human behaviour is intended to provide more insight to the medical community, but also to develop proposals for policy makers to devise more effective strategies in the prevention and treatment of pathological gambling.

Editorial work and publications

Francesca Zoratto has authored numerous papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Here below, a selection:

(2018)  Zoratto F., Sbriccoli M., Martinelli A., Glennon J.C., Macrì S., Laviola G. Intranasal oxytocin administration promotes emotional contagion and reduces aggression in a mouse model of callousness. Neuropharmacology, 143:250-267

(2018) Zoratto F., Oddi G., Gori E., Micucci A., De Petrillo F., Paglieri F., Adriani W., Laviola G, Addessi E. 2018. Social modulation of risky decision-making in rats (Rattus norvegicus) and tufted capuchin monkeys (Sapajus spp.). Behavioural Brain Research, 347:37-48.

(2018) Zoratto F., Cordeschi G., Grignani G., Bonanni R., Alleva E., Nascetti G., Mather J.A., Carere C. 2018. Variability in the “stereotyped” prey capture sequence of male cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) could relate to personality differences. Animal Cognition, 21(6):773-785.

(2017) Zoratto F., Romano E., Pascale E., Pucci M., Falconi A., Dell’Osso B., Maccarrone M., Laviola G., D’Addario C., Adriani W. 2017. Down-regulation of serotonin and dopamine transporter genes in individual rats expressing a gambling-prone profile: a possible role for epigenetic mechanisms. Neuroscience, 340:101-116.

(2015) Canese R., Zoratto F., Altabella L., Porcari P., Mercurio L., De Pasquale F., Butti E., Martino G., Lacivita E., Leopoldo M., Laviola G., Adriani W. 2015. Persistent modification of forebrain networks and metabolism in rats following adolescent exposure to a 5-HT7 receptor agonist. Psychopharmacology, 232(1):75-89.

(2013) Zoratto F., Laviola G., Adriani W. 2013. Gambling proneness in rats during the transition from adolescence to young adulthood: a home-cage method. Neuropharmacology, 67:444-454.

(2012) Koot S., Zoratto F., Cassano T., Colangeli R., Laviola G., van den Bos R., Adriani W. 2012. Compromised decision-making and increased gambling proneness following dietary serotonin depletion in rats. Neuropharmacology, 62(4):1640-1650. 

(2010) Zoratto F., Carere C., Chiarotti F., Santucci D., Alleva E. 2010. Aerial hunting behaviour and predation success by peregrine falcons Falco peregrinus on starling flocks Sturnus vulgaris. Journal of Avian Biology, 41(4):427-433.

Awards and prizes

Francesca Zoratto has received numerous awards and recognitions for her academic career. In 2016 she received a L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science 2016 Award from the “Fondation L’ORÉAL” in collaboration with L’ORÉAL Italia and the Italian National Commission for UNESCO.