International Women’s Day 2022: Emilia Chiancone

Emilia Chiancone

For International Women’s Day 2022, we at LifeWatch ERIC are putting eight scientists in the spotlight. Each of the LifeWatch ERIC member states has proposed a figure who has broken boundaries over the course of her lifetime, and is an inspiration to younger generations looking to pursue a career in STEM.

As we explored in the podcast we recorded for The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, women are still underrepresented in various scientific fields, such as engineering, computer science and AI. Additionally, scientific research in general is not only unbalanced in terms of composition (33% female) but also in terms of hierarchy, with only 12% of national science academy members being women, who are disproportionately overlooked when it comes to promotion and grants.

The women at the centre of our campaign are very diverse, hailing from a range of countries and time periods, but they all have one thing in common: overcoming the odds in order to contribute to scientific improvement. We want to draw attention to just a fraction of the women who have defied the cultural barriers pitted against them to bring good to the world, and bring recognition where they might have been overlooked. 

Born in Bari in 1938, the late Emilia Chiancone was Professor Emeritus of Molecular Biology at the “Sapienza” University of Rome and the first woman to become President of the Italian Academy of Sciences. Looking back at Chiancone’s life, we are inspired by the story of a prominent Italian scientist who, throughout her life, continuously broke barriers in terms of gender, and knocked down boundaries between disciplines.

Having graduated in Milan in Biological sciences, she moved to Rome which became the centre of her career. Together with the Nobel laureate Rita Levi Montalcini, Cecilia Saccone and Virginia Volterra, Emilia Chiancone was one of the first women to lead an Institute of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR), the Centre of Investigation on Molecular Biology, which under her guidance developed into the Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology, which she chaired from 2002 to 2008. In 2007 she received the Antonio Feltrinelli Award for Biological Sciences from the Accademia dei Lincei, and in 2015, the Italian Society of Science History gave her its Lifetime Achievement Award for her commitment to the dissemination of science, once again the only woman recognised with this honour. Altogether, she authored over 200 publications in international journals, several monographs and two patents, gaining recognition for her studies on the evolution of the allosteric regulatory mechanisms of enzymes.

From 2011 until her passing, Chiancone was the first female President of the Italian Academy of Sciences, characterising her mandates with a series of initiatives which were positively welcomed by both the scientific community and wider society. She put a special emphasis on scientific dissemination, a pertinent example being  the organisation alongside the CNR of “Wheats&Women international conference – Carlotta Award 2018”. Despite a career in biochemistry, it was under her presidency that the National Academy of Sciences joined LifeWatch Italy in 2012; her commitment was valuable and unwavering, and permanently marked the story of this infrastructure. In her final years, she worked tirelessly to foster the connection between science and society, the participation of students in research projects and a focus on science in schools. Together with CNR and LifeWatch Italy, she was the promoter and organiser of a number of citizen science initiatives, among which the TrovaPiante di Villa Torlonia (an interactive multimedia guide to identify local flora), a complete guide to the rich flora of the metropolitan area of Rome (including over 1600 infrageneric taxa), and the first Italian Citizen Science Conference,  “Biodiversity, Networks, Open Science and Platforms”, as part of a prolonged effort to make science more inclusive. An excellent scientist and resolute woman, Emilia Chiancone distinguished herself for her expertise, dedication and commitment – a true role model and inspiration for all those who want to pursue a career in research, particularly young women.


The Bulgarian National Distributed Centre is represented by the  Agricultural University-Plovdiv.

To know more about how Bulgaria contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Spanish National Distributed Centre is supported by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, the Regional Government of Andalusia and the Guadalquivir River Basin Authority (Ministry for Ecological Transition-MITECO). Moreover, Spain is the hosting Member State of LifeWatch ERIC, the location of its Statutory Seat & ICT e-Infrastructure Technical Office (LifeWatch ERIC Common Facilities). 

To know more about how Spain contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Slovenian National Distributed Centre is led by the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU). It focuses on the development of technological solutions in the field of biodiversity and socio-ecosystem research.

To know more about how Slovenia contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Portuguese National Distributed Centre is managed by PORBIOTA, the Portuguese e-Infrastructure for Information and Research on Biodiversity. Led by BIOPOLIS/CIBIO-InBIO – Research Centre in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, PORBIOTA connects the principal Portuguese research institutions working in biodiversity.

To know more about how Portugal contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Dutch National Distributed Centre is hosted by the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam. Moreover, The Netherlands hosts one of the LifeWatch ERIC Common Facilities, the Virtual Laboratory and Innovation Centre.

To know more about how The Netherlands contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Italian National Distributed Centre is led and managed by the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and is coordinated by a Joint Research Unit, currently comprising 35 members. Moreover, Italy hosts one of the LifeWatch ERIC Common Facilities, the Service Centre.

To know more about how Italy contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Greek National Distributed Centre is funded by the Greek General Secretariat of Research and Technology and is coordinated by the Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, in conjunction with 47 associated partner institutions.

To know more about how Greece contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.


The Belgian National Distributed Centre makes varied and complementary in-kind contributions to LifeWatch ERIC. These are implemented in the form of long-lasting projects by various research centres and universities distributed throughout the country and supported by each respective political authority.

To know more about how Belgium contributes to LifeWatch ERIC, please visit our dedicated webpage.