Category Archives: Mil-lab

NEW! MIL-lab programme on line!

Eager to know what will be going on during the EMMILE poster session? Here you find the MIL-lab programme in PDF format.

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MIL-lab: poster #13


Bringing stem cells to school: teachers and researchers sharing an experience of active learning in Italy 

Tommaso Nastasi1, Rossana De Lorenzi1, Elisabetta Palio2, Ann Zeuner2  

1European Learning Laboratory for the Life Science (ELLS), European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), Monterotondo, Rome, Italy

2Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

Corresponding Author and contacts: Elisabetta Palio; E-mail: ; Tel.: +39-06-49902479; Fax: +39-06-49387087.

Target sector: school

Abstract: Stem cells represent one of the most relevant and discussed subjects of biomedical research. However, information available to the general public is either exceedingly technical, incomplete or fragmented. Specifically, a better understanding of issues concerning stem cell research, and science in general, is highly needed in schools , to allow the formation of independent and scientifically sound opinions by soon-to-be citizen of our societies. Many scientific entitites are devoted to science dissemination initiatives in schools and the idea of “bringing stem cell to school” in Italy constitutes an hallmark of the activities organized by Unistem, an interdipartimental group of the University of Milan and member of several EU projects. On March 18, 2011, Unistem held its traditional open day on stem cells for high school students, in contemporary audiovisual connection with three other Italian Universities (Rome, Turin and Florence). This initiative provided the ELLS team, the science dissemination and education arm of EMBL, the opportunity to implement and test an integrated approach to science education. This pilot was organized in Rome, based on previous experience gained by ELLS officers during the past years, and was composed of a series of activities aimed at in-depth exploration and discussion  of the complex and multi-faceted scientific concepts related to stem cells. The inquiry-based approach was implemented through hands-on activities, guided visits to research centers, informal meetings and videochats with researchers and role playing games. Finally, the integration of social networks and multimedia, and the introduction of videos and arts as output formats, constituted an innovative sharing and technology framework for this methodology. This pilot involved a total of 400 students from six high schools, spanning a period of about 5 months. The exciting and successful outcomes of the 2011 project, led to the elaboration of Inquiry-based E-Learning (IBEL,, a prototype of integrated science education project, which is currently being implemented at national level in 6 different regions and that will contribute to the Open Days on Stem cells, organized by Unistem in those regions on on March 9, 2012, and will culminate in the project final event on April 24, 2012. In line with the need to provide a support to teachers on a topic for which no detailed information is available on school textbooks, the  Italian National Institute of Health has published in January 2012 the book “Stem cells: hints for teaching at school” (“Le cellule staminali: spunti per un’azione didattica”, in Italian, freely distributed and available on the website, directed  to Italian school teachers and students. “Le cellule staminali: spunti per un’azione didattica” represents the first scientific textbook for schools on stem cells in Italy. It combines a rigorous scientific information with a stimulating style, rich in illustrations and attractive for young readers. The book also reports inspirational pieces from the participants to the 2011 EMBL project: the experience of Prof.ssa Mariada Muciaccia and her students, and a selection of artworks on stem cells created by the students of the Liceo Artistico Ripetta (Roma). The creation of a textbook on stem cells created ad hoc for schools, together with the EMBL initiatives, will provide a major contribution to disseminate scientific information on stem cells and their clinical use in Italian schools, as well as increase the level of awareness on a scientific topic that impacts at many different levels on modern societies.

 Keywords: Stem cells, life-science school education.

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Tommaso Nastasi graduated in Biological Sciences at the University of Palermo, where he also received his PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology in 1999. After several years spent in research, in the fields of neurodegenerative diseases and muscle regeneration at international research centers (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, USA; EMBL, Italy), since 2009 he works as Science Educator Officer with the ELLS group at the EMBL in Monterotondo (RM), where he is responsible for teacher training and science dissemination activities.

Rossana De Lorenzi graduated in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at the University of Naples Federico II and received his PhD in molecular biology at EMBL Monterotondo in 2006. Since 2007, works as Science Education Officer with the ELLS group, the structure of the EMBL created to bring research closer to school, contributing to major events for training and dissemination of scientific culture in Europe.

Ann Zeuner is the Director of the Biotechnology Division within the Department of Hematology, Oncology and Molecular Medicine of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the main technical-scientific organ of the National Health Service in Italy. Her research activity has been focused both in the hematologic and in the oncology fields, with special attention given in recent years to the study of stem cells in tumors. She has authored around 40 publications in highly qualified peer reviewed journals. Beside her research activity,        Dr. Zeuner developed during the years a major interest in science communication, to which she has been fully trained at the International School for advanced research (SISSA) in Trieste.

Elisabetta Palio, PhD, is a research associate at the Department of Hematology, Oncology and Molecular Medicine of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, the main technical-scientific organ of the National Health Service in Italy. Over the years, she has developed an extensive experience in grant writing and management of cancer research projects funded by national public and private agencies or by the European Union. Beside her scientific background, she holds a Master degree in science communication and journalism, obtained at the University of Rome “Sapienza”, being awarded as “Best student of the academic year 2008/09”.

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MIL-lab: poster #2


Information Literacy in School Libraries: An International Exchange of Best Practices Between Germany and USA

Melissa P. Johnston, University of Kentucky, USA

Target sector: School library

Abstract: The purpose of this research was to investigate an international exchange of ideas and best practices related to school librarianship, including information literacy instruction, collaboration with classroom teachers, and instructional technologies. As German schools make the shift to whole day school two items are added, a cafeteria and a school library, which has led to a restructuring of school library programs (Schneider & von Jordan-Bonin, 2007). In efforts to establish school library programs in Germany, through a joint initiative with the Goethe-Institute Librarian in Residence program and Florida State University, two school librarians from Germany visited the United States in the fall of 2010 to learn from the school librarians in the United States. The German librarians, along with the researcher, spent three weeks touring American school libraries in the state of Florida with the purpose of observing best practices in information literacy instruction to take back and implement in German school libraries. The researcher then traveled to Germany to observe and document the practices of school librarians in various locations in Germany, including Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Berlin. The goal of this research was to follow up with the two German school librarians and observe the implementation of the best practices in multiple school situations. The researcher conducted interviews with the two German librarians and performed site observations of several schools in Germany to establish which best practices observed in the United States have been implemented, those have been most useful in their practice, those that have not, and document the progress of this idea exchange. Interviews were recorded and later transcribed and an observational checklist was utilized to record data during the site visits. The researcher analyzed the data upon return to the United States, utilizing content analysis to determine which best practices have successfully transferred to this international setting, which were found to be the most useful, and which were not. This poster presents the findings from these observations and interviews. School librarians worldwide are struggling and dealing with the same issues and can learn from each other by sharing best practices and working together. This research serves as a foundation on which future research is planned to further build international relationships, promote idea exchange, and develop international best practices.

Keywords: school libraries, school librarianship

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Melissa P. Johnston, PhD (  is an Assistant Professor at the University of Kentucky in the School of Library and Information Science. She worked as a school librarian for 13 years in Georgia (USA) before completing her PhD at The Florida State University where she also worked as a research fellow at The Partnerships Advancing Library Media (PALM) Center. She is actively involved in the American Library Association, the American Association of School Librarians, and the International Association of School Librarianship through serving in various leadership and elected positions. Johnston has published in a variety of journals that focus on school library issues and research and her research interests include school librarians as leaders, the school librarian’s role in technology integration, and the education of future school librarians.

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Italian Version / Versione italiana

Le informazioni in italiano sul convegno  EMMILE sono reperibili alle seguenti pagine:

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Paola De Castro

According to EMMILE Programme, on Feb. 29, 2012, morning, Paola De Castro and Daniela Marsili, both from Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome (Italy), will be speaking about:

“Empowering authors to use, produce and disseminate information in public health. The experience of the NECOBELAC project in Europe and Latin America”.

Abstract:A training experience performed in European and Latin American countries, in the period April 2010-December 2011, to promote information literacy in public health is reported. The training was  focused on creating awareness and providing tools to improve scientific writing and open access publishing. The target was mainly represented by inexperienced authors working in academic and research institutions to improve their capacity to search, produce and disseminate health information through different channels.

The experience was developed within the project NECOBELAC (Network of Collaboration Between Europe and Latin American-Caribbean countries, 2009-2012), financed by the European Commission (7 FP Capacities – Science in Society), aiming to foster the production and dissemination of open access scientific information in the field of public health ( The project is part of a global commitment towards a cultural change in information dissemination, a long term process requiring a strong commitment by different stakeholders.

A train-the-trainer model (T1) was adopted to enhance the training impact and sustainability through training replication activities at local level (T2).  The development and use of ad hoc training tools based on the semantic web technologies (Topic maps) helped the NECOBELAC trainers  to carry on both T1 and T2 initiatives  in a flexible and modular way, within a wide geographical area having different socio-cultural and technological backgrounds. A total of 7 T1 courses and more than 30  T2 activities were performed.

The positive results achieved and feedback received can be considered as a starting point to develop new education initiatives in other contexts and sectors.

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Paola De Castro: Head of the Publishing Unit at Istituto Superiore di Sanità (, National Institute of Health in Italy), she promotes the dissemination of scientific information to different targets including students. She supports open access publication models and fosters scientific cooperation at national and international level. She is the coordinator of a European Project linking Europe and Latin America to promote health information dissemination ( She delivers courses of scientific writing and open access and is involved in a number of initiatives to promote information literacy and science culture in schools.  She organizes exhibitions on public health issues addressed to specialized staff and the general public. A list of publications is available here. Paola is also the EMMILE Poster Committee Chair and, in this role, she will be chairing a stimulating and lively poster session the “MIL-lab“, on Tues. Feb. 28, 2012, afternoon.

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