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UniSR for UniStem Day 2024: research explained to high school students

22 March 2024
Scientific events

The largest international scientific dissemination event dedicated to high school students has returned for the sixteenth consecutive year. Coordinated by the UniStem Center of the University of Milan, the event took place simultaneously in 97 universities and research centers in 13 countries and two continents.

Born in 2009 in Milan from an idea of Milan University professor and senator for life Elena Cattaneo, UniStem Day returns once again on an international level with the involvement of universities and research centers in Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, and for the first time Norway.

The protagonists of the day were approximately 30,000 students around the world who, through seminars, panel discussions, visits to laboratories but also quizzes, musical performances and other moments of fun, were able to step into the shoes of researchers grappling with their daily challenges. A particular focus of the presentations was on research on stem cells, to tell their therapeutic and technological potential and the latest breakthroughs in this field. Room was also made for stories and reflections on other current topics of great social impact and delicate issues involving bioethical aspect, such as the right of access to care, abortion, euthanasia.

UniStem Day is part of the Public Engagement activities, one of the fields of action of the "Third Mission" of universities, necessary to enhance the value of the products of university activity in society and in the economic and cultural fabric of the country.

The UniSR programme

At the opening of the event, UniSR connected live for a video greeting with the University of Bari "Aldo Moro" (UniBa), Bari Polytechnic University and the CNR Institute of Biomembranes, Bioenergetics and Molecular Biotechnology (Cnr-Ibiom), and the University of Urbino Carlo Bo. To the question "What do you expect from today?", the hundreds of connected students answered through an app, generating a word cloud whose most frequent words were "discovery", "innovation", "knowledge" and "future", thus fully in line with the themes of the day.

The live video greeting with the other Universities

Not only stem cells: in the first part of the morning, students listened to the talk "Facing the fear of choosing and making mistakes (in lab and in life)" given by Giorgia Foggetti, Project leader of the Division of Experimental Oncology and Department of Medical Oncology at IRCSS San Raffaele Hospital. The theme of giving up university studies, coupled with the value to the need to gain strength even when encountering difficulties in the course in studies (as well as in life), were important elements for students to reflect on as part of UniStem Day 2024, to help them overcome fears and insecurities in a nonjudgmental context.

The talk given by Giorgia Foggetti

In the second part of the morning, the panel discussion "Stem Cell Application Fields: three experiences from San Raffaele" was held. Andrea Grignolio, Professor of History of Medicine, Researcher in General and Clinical Pathology UniSR, moderated the speeches of researchers Maria Ester Bernardo, Associate Professor of Pediatrics UniSR, Head of Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplantation Functional Unit IRCSS San Raffaele Hospital, Clinical Coordinator Pediatric Clinical Research Unit SR-Tiget, Maria Teresa Lupo-Stanghellini, Coordinator Disease Unit Allogeneic Transplantation and Cellular Therapies, Senior Hematologist, Hematology and Marrow Transplantation Unit, IRCSS San Raffaele Hospital, and Angela Genchi, Clinical fellow, PhD student, Neurology and Neuroimmunology Unit, IRCSS San Raffaele Hospital. In the dialogue, the experts shared their journey, both human and professional, and narrated their experience on the topics of learning, discovery, knowledge and innovation from stem cell research, each relative to their area of expertise.

The panel discussion with Andrea Grignolio, Maria Ester Bernardo, Maria Teresa Lupo-Stanghellini and Angela Genchi

In conclusion, the students were taken on a guided tour of the University, visiting classrooms and campus spaces, and hearing from the voice of those studying at UniSR what the college experience at UniSR is like, with its services, activities and opportunities, to let them experience in advance the excitement of their eventual first day of college.

See you next time with UniStem Day!

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