Focus on, archive

December 3, 2007

BHF Career Award to Elisabetta Dejana witnesses her commitment to science

dejanaElisabetta Dejana and Jeremy Pearson

When approaching the stage to receive the William Harvey for Cardiovascular Research career award, EVGN scientist Elisabetta Dejana, IFOM-Milan group leader and world-leading expert on angiogenesis, appeared as if she was asking herself: "Isn't mine just a normal career?".

The answer, of course, is no. Her fruitful profession - we should probably say vocation - with more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific papers and a number of prestigious awards is pretty exceptional. The latter-in-time prize makes no exception. The William Harvey for Cardiovascular Research award, in fact, is a British Heart Foundation appreciation given to outstanding scientific individuals for their contributions to knowledge in the scientific field. It is named after the English medical doctor/physician, who is credited with being the first to correctly describe properties and features of circulation, with blood being pumped around the body by the heart. This year's edition was conferred, in addition to Dejana, to two more scientists: to the Italian Professor Carlo Patrono, the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Age Diseases in Chieti (Italy), and to Professor Anthony Cerami, a leading scientist at Rockefeller University and the co-inventor of the anti-TNF monoclonal antibody that has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

The prize wad handed over by Professor Jeremy Pearson PhD, FMedSci and the Associate Medical Director for the British Heart Foundation on November 19th at the William Harvey Institute for Excellence in Science in London. In that occasion, Elisabetta Dejana gave a lecture on her latest discoveries, explaining the basic mechanisms that control vascular permeability and detailing the complexities of the angiogenesis process.

Dejana is the Principal Investigator of a group which is reknown for its discoveries on tumours. She is involved in at least six different projects that share the investigation of the mechanisms exploited by tumours to sprout new blood vessels. During the last years she has identified two proteins that promote cell-cell adhesion and she is currently working on the zebrafish embryo model to study the development of the cardiovascular system.

"I did not expect this award" commented Dejana at the end of the ceremony. "But I feel honoured because, with this prize, all my collaborators, and especially the women of my team, have been awarded themselves".

Early this year, the scientist (who is also member of the European Vascular Genomics Network) had been already awarded with the Special Prize Woman for her efforts and commitment in socially relevant issues.

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