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Sep 21, 2011 Commentary
DCGT: the individual's benefits above all

by Donato Ramani and Chiara Saviane

Easy, cheap, efficient as online service often are. Direct to Consumer Genetic Testing (DCGT) represents a big evolution towards personalised medicine. If the phenomenon seems to be unstoppable, the first aim of its present and future developments should be the customers’ benefits. A certified quality of the services provided, a clear communication and a well-structured support to customers should be the critical conditions that could transform those online services in something really important: for the individual’s health and the society as a whole.

Volume 10 • Issue 03 • 2011

Oct 30, 2009 Letter
The brain seduction: the public perception of neuroscience

by Donato Ramani

The increasing number of magazine covers dedicated to brain studies and the success of magazines and scientific journals entirely dedicated to brain and mind indicate a strong interest on these themes. This interest is clearly surpassing the boundaries of scientific and medical researches and applications and underlines an engagement of the general public, too. This phenomenon appears to be enhanced by the increasing number of basic researches focusing on non-health-related fMRI studies, investigating aspects of personality as emotions, will, personal values and beliefs, self-identity and behaviour. The broad coverage by the media raises some central questions related to the complexity of researches, the intrinsic limits of these technologies, the results’ interpretative boundaries, factors which are crucial to properly understand the studies’ value. In case of an incomplete communication, if those fundamental interpretative elements are not well understood, we could register a misinterpretation in the public perception of the studies that opens new compelling questions. As already observed in the past debates on science and technologies applications, in this case, too, we assist to a communicative problem that set against scientific community on one side and media, on the other. Focusing our attention, in particular, on the debate on fMRI, taken as a good model, in the present letter we will investigate the most interesting aspects of the current discussion on neuroscience and neuroscience public perception. This analysis was performed as one of the bid - brains in dialogue - activities ( bid is a three year project supported by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Program and coordinated by Sissa, the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste, aimed at fostering dialogue between science and society on the new challenges coming from neuroscience.

Volume 8 • Issue 04 • 2009

Mar 20, 2009 Commentary
Master in science communication: an overview

by Donato Ramani

Science, politics, industry, media, state-run and private organisations, private citizens: everyone has their own demands, their own heritage of knowledge, thoughts, opinions, aspirations, needs. Different worlds that interact, question one another, discuss; in one word: they communicate. It is a complicated process that requires professionals «who clearly understand the key aspects of the transmission of scientific knowledge to society through the different essential communication channels for multiple organizations». The purpose of this commentary is to cast some light upon the goals, the philosophy and the organisation behind some European and extra-European Master’s degrees in science communication. We have asked the directors of each of them to describe their founding elements, their origins, their specific features, their structure, their goals, the reasons why they were established and the evolution they have seen over their history.

Volume 8 • Issue 01 • 2009

Sep 19, 2008 Commentary
Being creative in a greenhouse: art and global warming

by Donato Ramani

The world, all at once, has become a small world. Not only owing to TV, satellites and the Internet that allow us to jump from side to side of our planet in a click. But also owing to a phenomenon that evokes dry lands, devastating rains, tsunamis and hurricanes, torrid summers and melting glaciers: global warming. In the heated argument on this issue with so many people talking, in the past few years also artists have made their rising voice be heard. Artists-popularisers, aware of their role and of the considerable communication potential of the art medium. Because “One salient image, sculpture or event can speak louder than volumes of scientific data”.

Volume 7 • Issue 03 • 2008

Mar 21, 2008 Letter
Scientific careers and gender differences. A qualitative study

by Daniele Gouthier, Federica Manzoli and Donato Ramani

In Europe, much effort has been devoted to explore the causes of the decline in number of university matriculations of science students and to identify gender differences in career choice. Yet, the problem extends to the fulfillment of career plans: given their professional expectations and their attitudes when choosing a career, girls are much less likely to pursue scientific careers such as engineering or physics. Evidence of this is provided by the social research carried out within the framework of the GAPP project (Gender Awareness Participation Process). The Gapp project is intended to investigate differences between girls and boys in their perception of science careers and to propose a range of innovative and concrete participatory activities involving scientists, engineers and professionals from the public and private S&T sectors. In this letter, we report a synthesis of the results of the social research conducted as first step of the project: exploring how the perceptions of science professions affect interest, motivation and subject choice at school, at the university and consequently in their career.

Volume 7 • Issue 01 • 2008

Mar 21, 2007 Letter
The output for the Master’s degree in Science Communication at SISSA of Trieste

by Donato Ramani and Nico Pitrelli

What professional future awaits those who have attended a school in science communication? This has become an ever more urgent question, when you consider the proliferation of Masters and post-graduate courses that provide on different levels a training for science communicators in Europe and all over the world. In Italy, the International School for Advanced Studies of Trieste has been for fourteen years now the seat for a Master’s degree in Science Communication that has graduated over 170 students. This letter illustrates the results of a survey carried out in order to identify the job opportunities they have been offered and the role played in their career by their Master’s degree. Over 70% of the interviewees are now working in the field of science communication and they told us that the Master has played an important role in finding a job, thus highlighting the importance of this school as a training, cultural and professional centre.

Volume 6 • Issue 01 • 2007