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Results: 153

Lucia Votano

STEM area: Physics

Competences: experimental physics of astroparticlesm, experimental physics of particles

Keywords: astroparticles, gran sasso workshops, infn, juno, neutrinos, nuclear physics, particle physics, particles, work

Region: Lazio


Research Director, associate to Frascati National Laboratory of INFN (Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare).


Professional career

Born in Calabria, Italy, in November 1947, LV graduated with summa cum laude in Physics at University 'La Sapienza' (Roma) in 1971.

She became staff research scientist at INFN - Frascati National Laboratory (LNF) in 1975, Senior Researcher in 1988 and Research Director in 2000.

As an experimental particle and astroparticle physicist, she has been active at Frascati National Laboratory, CERN-Geneva, DESY-Hamburg, Gran Sasso Laboratory, performing physics studies as well as constructing and running large detector systems.

From 1999 through 2004 she was the Director of the LNF Research Division.

From 2009 to 2012 she was the Director of the Gran Sasso Laboratory (LNGS) in Italy, first woman to be appointed in this position.

LNGS is the largest (17800 m2) underground laboratory in the world for astroparticle physics and the most advanced in terms of length, complexity and completeness of its infrastructures, hosting 20 cutting edge international experiments. More than 950 scientists from 29 different Countries take part in the LNGS experimental activities and constitute its large international scientific community.


Scientific results

The research activity of Lucia Votano concerns astroparticle physics, a field at the intersection of astronomy, particle physics and cosmology, addressing questions relating to the micro-cosmos of elementary particles and their fundamental interactions and, at the same time, the macro-cosmos, the birth and evolution of the universe.

In particular her main interest turned to neutrinos, the most mysterious, enigmatic and mystifying particle among the ones that make up the Universe. The neutrino’s interaction with matter is truly tiny and one the most intriguing results of the last decades is the evidence, by measuring the phenomenon of neutrino oscillations, that they do have a mass, although very small.

In order to properly comprehend the mechanism of the oscillation; various neutrino sources, both natural (the Sun or other stars) and artificial (particle accelerators or nuclear power plants) can be used.

LV started working for the Large Volume Detector (LVD) experiment at LNGS, designed to detect neutrinos from gravitational stellar collapses within our entire Galaxy.

Afterwards she has joined the OPERA experiment that has provided the first and firm direct evidence of the muon-neutrino oscillation into tau-neutrino. The detector was located in the underground Gran Sasso Laboratory, 730 km away from the neutrino source at Geneva and exposed to the CNGS (Cern neutrinos to Gran Sasso) pure muon-neutrino beam.

The study of the intrinsic properties of neutrino is of prime interest in particle physics and has provided by now the only direct and undisputed experimental evidence of the inadequacy of the successful Standard Model of elementary particles and interactions.

Presently she is member of JUNO (Jiangmen underground Neutrino Observatory) Collaboration, a giant multi-purpose neutrino experiment under construction in Kaiping, Jiangmen, Guangdong Province (South China), 53 km far from two nuclear power plants, and aiming at the determination of the neutrino mass hierarchy. The 20 kton liquid scintillation detection volume, together with the excellent energy resolution, will allow JUNO to address many physics goals related to the observations of neutrino events of astrophysical and terrestrial origin

Editorial work and publications

The research activities have resulted in about 300 papers on international scientific journals and in presentations at international conferences. Among them:

(2018) M. Reguzzoni et al., GIGJ: a crustal gravity model of the Guangdong Province for predicting the geoneutrino signal at the JUNO experiment.
arXiv:1901.01945 [physics.geo-ph].

(2018) N. Agafonova et al. Final Results of the OPERA Experiment on nt Appearance in the CNGS Neutrino Beam.
Phys.Rev.Lett. 120 (2018) no.21, 211801, Erratum: Phys.Rev.Lett. 121 (2018) no.13, 139901.

(2018) N. Agafonova et al. Final results of the search for nm  n oscillations with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam.
JHEP 1806 (2018) 151.

(2018) N. Agafonova et al. Measurement of the cosmic ray muon flux seasonal variation with the OPERA detector.
arXiv:1810.10783 [hep-ex].

(2018) F. Riggi et al. Time and orientation long-distance correlations between extensive air showers detected by the MRPC telescopes of the EEE Project
Nuovo Cim. C40 (2018) no.6, 196.

(2018) M. Grassi et al. Charge reconstruction in large-area photomultipliers
JINST 13 (2018) no.02, P02008.

(2018) A. Paoloni, A. Mengucci, M. Spinetti, M. Ventura, L. Votano.

Streamer studies in Resistive Plate Chambers

arXiv:1806.03443 [physics.ins-det].

(2016) Fengpeng An et al. Neutrino Physics with JUNO.
J.Phys. G43 (2016) no.3, 030401.

(2015) N. Agafonova et al. Discovery of $\tau$ Neutrino Appearance in the CNGS Neutrino Beam with the OPERA Experiment
Phys.Rev.Lett. 115 (2015) no.12, 121802.
(2015) N. Agafonova et al. Limits on muon-neutrino to tau-neutrino oscillations induced by a sterile neutrino state obtained by OPERA at the CNGS beam
JHEP 1506 (2015) 069.


Lucia Votano has also published two scientific books for general public:

“Il fantasma dell’universo-Che cos’è il neutrino”, Collana La Città della Scienza, Carocci editore 2015 and 

“La via della seta. La fisica da Enrico Fermi alla Cina” Collana i Dialoghi, Di Renzo editore 2017.

In April 2010 has been awarded by the President of the Italian Republic of the official title of

 ” Commendatore al merito Della Repubblica Italiana” for scientific services.


Ann Zeuner

STEM area: Biomedical sciences and biotechnology

Competences: cellular biology, molecular biology

Keywords: cancer, cancer stem cells, chemotherapy, disclosure, school, stamina cells

Region: Lazio


Biotechnology Group Leader, Department of Oncology and Molecular Medicine, Istituto Superiore di Sanità (National Institute of Health), Rome, Italy

Professional career

Dr. Ann Zeuner is a 49 years old researcher who dedicated more than half of her life to cancer research. Combining her two passions, biology and science communication (for which she obtained a MS at the International School of Advanced Studies in Trieste)

Scientific results

Dr. Zeuner carries out a biomedical research of high translational relevance flanked by an active commitment in research dissemination. Dr. Zeuner's major achievements reflect her constant effort to translate basic research in useful tools to improve the knowledge and treatment of cancer.

1) Mirroring the success of a professional life devoted to cancer research, the PI has published 48 papers in  high level journals including Nature, Science, Blood, Cancer Research, Cell Stem Cell. Importantly, 13 of these publications (excluding reviews) are research papers where the PI is first, last or corresponding author, indicating a profound personal commitment in the projects.

2) The PI dedicated great effort to scientific challenges having practical implications for the treatment and quality of life of cancer patients. Specifically, she has patented a new method to prevent chemotherapy-induced anemia and thrombocytopenia in cancer patients (Zeuner A. et al. Pat. N. US7994125 B2, 8/9/2011) and she recently developed a new class of compounds with anti-cancer stem cell activity and minimal toxicity against normal tissues (Zeuner A. et al. Pat. N. 102014902292046, approved Jan. 2017).

3) The PI has a strong commitment in promoting international cooperation among research and clinical groups in the field of oncology. For this reason, she was appointed by the Italian Ministry of Health as leader of the COLOMED (COLOrectal cancer in MEDiterranean countries) project, with the goal of creating a network of research and clinical centers working on colorectal cancer (CCR) in Mediterranean countries. COLOMED ( has been actively involved in creating strategic partnerships, broadening scientific cooperation, promoting the investments of resources in CCR research and fostering the transfer of technology and personnel among Mediterranean centers.

4) The PI strongly believes in the importance of science communication as a fundamental link between academic research, patients and the general public. She takes an active part in this commitment by writing articles for journals and magazines and by providing support to educational and charity initiatives in the field of cancer and cord blood donation.

5) The PI is particularly devoted to scientific dissemination toward schools. Every year she hosts in her laboratory high-school students within Ministry of Education projects (PON and Alternanza Scuola-Lavoro) and she published a book for schools on stem cells (“Le cellule staminali”, 80 pages, edited by the italian National Institute of Health and freely distributed on print and web,, which encountered a considerable success not only among students but also among the general public. The book was reprinted several times and is now undergoing an updated re-edition together with publication of an English version.

Editorial work and publications

(2017)   Colorectal cancer: towards new challenges and concepts of preventive healthcare. Colace L, Boccia S, De Maria R, Zeuner A. Ecancer medical science. 2017 Nov 28;11:ed74. doi: 10.3332/ecancer.2017.ed74. eCollection 2017.

(2015) Francescangeli F, Contavalli P, Gambara G, De Angelis ML, Baiocchi M, Pagliuca A, Fiorenzano A, Prezioso C, Boe A, Todaro M, Stassi G, Castro NP, Watanabe K,         Salomon DS, De Maria R, Minchiotti G, Zeuner A. Dynamic regulation of the cancer stem cell compartment by Cripto-1 in colorectal cancer. Cell Death Differ. 2015 Oct;22(10):1700-13.

(2014)  Zeuner A, Todaro M, Stassi G, De Maria R. Colorectal Cancer Stem Cells: From the Crypt to the Clinic. Cell Stem Cell. 2014 Dec 4;15(6):692-705.

(2014) Zeuner A, Francescangeli F, Contavalli P, Zapparelli G, Apuzzo T, Eramo A, Baiocchi M, De Angelis ML, Biffoni M, Sette G, Todaro M, Stassi G, De Maria R. Elimination of quiescent/slow-proliferating cancer stem cells by Bcl-XL inhibition in non-small cell lung cancer. Cell Death Differ. 2014, 105.

(2013) Todaro M, Turdo A, Bartucci M, Iovino F, Dattilo R, Biffoni M, Stassi G, Federici G, De Maria R, Zeuner A. Erythropoietin activates cell survival pathways in breast cancer stem-like cells to protect them from chemotherapy. Cancer Res. 2013 Nov 1;73(21):6393-400.

(2012)  Francescangeli F, Patrizii M, Signore M, Federici G, Di Franco S, Pagliuca A, Baiocchi M, Biffoni M, Vitiani LR, Todaro M, De Maria R, Zeuner A. Proliferation State and Polo-like Kinase1 Dependence of Tumorigenic Colon Cancer Cells. Stem Cells. 2012 Sep;30(9):1819-30.

(2011) Bartucci M, Dattilo R, Martinetti D, Todaro M, Zapparelli G, Di Virgilio A, Biffoni M, De Maria R, Zeuner A. Prevention of chemotherapy-induced anemia and thrombocytopenia by constant administration of stem cell factor. Clin. Cancer Res. 2011 Oct 1;17(19):6185-91.

(2009) Zeuner A., Pedini F., Francescangeli F., Signore M., Girelli G., Tafuri A., De Maria R. Activity of the BH3 mimetic ABT-737 on polycythemia vera erythroid precursor cells Blood, 2009, vol 113, pag. 1522-5.

(1999) De Maria R*, Zeuner A*, Eramo A, Domenichelli C, Bonci D, Grignani F, Srinivasula SM, Alnemri ES, Testa U, Peschle C. Negative regulation of erythropoiesis by caspase-mediated cleavage of GATA-1. Nature, 1999, vol. 401, pag. 489-493. *Equal contribution

(1997) De Maria R, Lenti L, D'Agostino F, Zeuner A, Tomassini B, Rippo MR, Testi R. Requirement for GD3 ganglioside in CD95- and ceramide- induced apoptosis. Science, 1997, vol. 277, pag. 1652-1655.


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


Researcher (fixed term) at the Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Mental Health of the Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità; Rome, Italy)

Professional career

My main expertise pertains to the study of animal behaviour and closely related disciplines (e.g. psychobiology, neuroethology, psychopharmacology). I graduated at the University of Parma (Italy) in 2008 with a thesis in Ethology and subsequently obtained a PhD in Ethology at the University of Florence (Italy) in 2013 with a research project on impulsivity and gambling proneness in rats. In 2014 I had a 14-month contract at the Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital (Rome, Italy) within the research area “Multifactorial diseases and complex phenotypes”. The following year I received a scholarship from the Noopolis Foundation to perform research activities at the section of Behavioural Neuroscience of the Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità; Rome, Italy). Thanks to a L’ORÉAL-UNESCO For Women in Science 2016 Award, I carried out research activities as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Unit of Cognitive Primatology and Primate Centre, where I focused my research on the social modulation of risky decision-making in non-human primates and rodents. Currently, I am working as a research scientist at the Centre for Behavioural Sciences and Mental Health of the Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità; Rome, Italy), within a group that has a consolidated experience and tradition in the behavioural phenotyping of animal models, with a special focus on critical periods such as infancy and adolescence.

Scientific results

My primary interest is the study of animal behaviour in a functional and evolutionary perspective. For my research projects, I have dealt with multidisciplinary research topics at the intersection between laboratory work and natural settings, studying different species and combining data from different fields.

Currently, my research is mainly devoted to the development and validation of animal models of human neurobehavioural disorders, with particular reference to conduct and impulse control disorders and behavioural addictions (i.e. gambling disorder). The propensity to risk and gamble is not only found in human beings, and the study of animal behaviour can help to better understand the psychobiological mechanisms on which our addictions are based. Increasing the knowledge in this field is intended to provide more elements of understanding to the medical community, but also to develop proposals for the political class to study more effective strategies in the prevention and treatment of pathological gambling.


Editorial work and publications

Up to now (January 2019), I have co-authored about 40 papers in international peer-reviewed scientific journals including:

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

-          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.

-          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.

-          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. (*equally contributed to this work as co-first authors)

-          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. (*equally contributed to this work as co-first authors)

-          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.

-          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. (*equally contributed to this work as co-first authors)

-          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.