Voices for change: Celebrating diversity within the AO
Valentina Basoli: My journey
With more than 20 published scientific papers, an array of international research collaborations, and research funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) scientist Valentina Basoli, PhD, is carving out an extraordinary career in research. But she’s quick to point out that she hasn’t come to this solely on the basis of hard work, nor has she done it all alone.
Basoli, a native of Sardinia, Italy, is a research scientist in the Regenerative Orthopaedics Program within the Disc and Cartilage Biology group at ARI. She joined ARI in 2017 as a postdoc within the Stem Cells group studying mesenchymal stem cell markers and donor variations before and during chondrogenic differentiation. She collaborates with various research groups to develop biosensors and pathological models for testing drugs. She currently is pursuing a degree in translational medicine and biomedical entrepreneurship at the sitem Center for Translational Medicine and Biomedical Entrepreneurship (University of Bern, Switzerland).
It all started when she was just three years old.
“I decided to be a scientist at three years old because I was fascinated with the white lab coats I saw health care workers wearing when I was visiting a hospital. I didn’t really know what science was. I was just in love with the white lab coat,” she recalls with a smile. “I received my first toy microscope when I was almost four years old, because I was so in love with microscopes and being able to see small things. That was me.”
“Despite its predominant use among survey respondents, smartphone technology is not commonly used for measuring outcomes in orthopedic trauma literature. Their use is mainly limited to remote imaging and case assessment, determination of range of motion, relaying training information, and fall risk determination.”
‘Why I do what I do’
As a teenager, she worked as a sailor for a wealthy Italian family, the matriarch of which was gravely ill. That woman’s illness inspired her to find a branch of science in which she could help people.
“At 18, when I went to university, I decided to study molecular biology with the idea of studying genetics and diseases in order to, ideally, find ways of helping sick people. That’s basically why I’m a scientist,” says Basoli. “The translation of science into the clinics in order to help patients is why I do what I do.”
Raised by parents who were architects—a balance between the art of design, mathematics, and materials science—Basoli says she always felt supported in her interests.
“I’m very lucky because it was in my family culture to be supportive: We got to play musical instruments, for example, and my parents always supported me in continuing to follow my passions,” she says.
Her passion led her to the University of Sassari (UNISS) in Italy, where she graduated summa cum laude with both a bachelor of science degree in molecular biology and a master of science degree in experimental and applied biology. In 2017, Basoli earned a doctorate in medical genetics from the University of Sassari as well as a doctorate in biotechnology from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna Austria.
Inspiration has been in plentiful supply across Basoli’s education and career. She credits three professors in particular: former Ludwig Boltzmann Institute (Vienna, Austria) Prof Heinz Redl and UNISS Prof Margherita Maioli for teaching her the role of teamwork in science, and ARI’s Prof Sibylle Grad, who is mentoring her on how to supervise students and projects.
“Questions about data availability, validity, and safety of acquisition still need to be addressed. Current reviews regarding wearable assisted measurement of activity and fall risk show that, while many different systems are available, few have clear standards regarding which parameters need to be monitored to obtain clinically relevant outcomes.”
“When you’re eventually in the position to help others, take those opportunities because that’s how we grew in this profession and make it better.”
Jessica McCarthy, PhD, Department of Surgical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison