In April and May Cnr-Ibf researchers held videoconferences with the students of the “G. Natta” high school and the primary school Pisacane-Poerio in Milan. This initiative is part of the scientific dissemination activities that each year in the context of the Biophysics Week, the CNR-IBF promotes among the general public and young minds. During last year’s edition of the Biophysics Week, the researchers of the Cnr-Ibf-Milan, in collaboration with the Department of Biosciences at the University of Milan, invited primary schools of second degree to the laboratories of structural biology, to understand how the three-dimensional structure of proteins is discovered and set up real experiments. In addition, high schools were also involved through ” seminars in the classroom” dedicated to structural biology and its applications. This year, the pandemic has diverted dissemination activities to distance learning tools. Primary schools’ children were told about viruses’ structure and assembling, using simple language and familiar objects. With high school students, the talk regarded SARS-Cov-2 PROTEINS and drug research with particular focus on the #FarmaCovid project (Supervisor: Mario Milani, IBF-Milan). The #FarmaCovid project was born from the collaboration and skills of researchers E. Mastrangelo and M. Milani (Cnr-Ibf) from Milan and Professor A. Marcello of the Molecular Virology Laboratory at ICGEB in Trieste. The former researchers select antiviral potentials based on computational calculations performed on high resolution SARS-CoV-2 viral protein structures. Then, tests on cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratories of Trieste are performed to verify antiviral activity and understand its mechanism of action. The project met with great interest in the school by raising several questions, stimulating constructive discussion, especially among the youngest.
This event of inclusive science demonstrates how important it is to keep disseminating the attractive aspects of biophysics as an interdisciplinary science, which can have significant implications in every field of knowledge, as well as practical effects in the discovery of urgent therapies.