The winners of the international call for “Education for Women's Empowerment” have been announced. 

Dr Vanya Miskovic is the winner of the Big Data and Artificial Intelligence study area for health and biomedical research. 

Education for Women's Empowerment, the international call born from the collaboration between Milan Foundation for Expo 2015 and the Politecnico di Milano, under the patronage of Italy Pavilion, was presented at Expo 2020 Dubai last November 10th.

The "Education for Women's Empowerment" call was open to all applicants with a bachelor's, doctoral or master's degree. 

The study areas related to the call were mainly three: Big data and artificial intelligence for health and biomedical research; Sense / time_based design and neuroscience as a contribution to the social responsibility of therapeutic spaces; Agri-food chain and sustainability of innovative products. 

An important challenge is that of Education for Women's Empowerment, which has set itself the goal of contributing to the creation of a context dedicated to education and training, as well as increasing the resources to guarantee women a better education, in disciplines such as STEM. , engineering, design and architecture.

A project designed to support the construction of an inclusive society, founded on the values of innovation, sustainability and economic growth. 

"The extraordinary collaboration with the Politecnico di Milano to respond adequately to the level of the themes proposed during Expo 2020 Dubai was the starting point for the final realization of this long journey, which began with Expo in 2015". He said Maria Cristina Cedrini, director of the Milan Foundation for Expo 2015.

"The aim is to continue to pay attention to the training of young people, their professional development and their future contribution in an increasingly dynamic society on a technological level, more demanding in the field of qualifications and research, socially challenging in the new horizons of inclusiveness. " Maria Cristina Cedrini concluded. 

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Education for Women's Empowerment: big data and artificial intelligence for health and biomedical research

For the study area Big data and artificial intelligence for health and biomedical research of the Education for Women's Empowerment call, the doctor Vanya Miskovic, Phd ofÉcole Polytechnique of Brussels.

Focus of the research project is the efficacy of immunotherapy for patients with lung cancer. 

It is a project on "the development of AI methodologies and understanding as a tool to support the clinical decision, which drugs and which immunotherapy molecules to administer, for patients with lung cancer", he explained. Alessandra Laura Giulia Pedrocchi, Professor of Biomedical Engineering of the laboratory NearLab - Neuro-Engineering and Medical Robotics. 

Alessandra Laura Giulia Pedrocchi

Specifically, “the research we have decided to tackle - he added - mainly concerns the explicability of artificial intelligence in the context of medical and health research. What interests us is to use and understand AI algorithms so that they become a consultant able to explain to the clinician the decision process it supports ". "In this context we are collaborating with the National Cancer Institute of Milan - he added - to study the efficacy of immunotherapy for patients with lung cancer".

Many applications received with very interesting profiles, but the regulation provided for only one winner. “We selected Dr. Miskovic, a Serbian girl who studied in Belgium - he explained - for her international experience. Having already worked in interdisciplinary teams, he has all the skills to carry out this research and to do the work together with the cancer research institute ”. 

On the importance of guaranteeing women a better education and training in STEM disciplines, Professor Pedrocchi said that “women can make a specific contribution in research groups by collaboration and skills. The call gave international profiles the opportunity to participate and be chosen for this integrated research work based in Italy. It is very nice that in Italy we are spokespersons for these exchanges ”. 

Journal of Italian Healthcare World reached out to Dr. Vanya Miskovic to which he asked some questions.

What is your study and research path?

I earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in materials engineering atNovi Sad University in Serbia. I decided to continue my academic career by doing my doctoral studies at the Microgravity Research Center ofUniversité Libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

I worked mainly in the field of biomaterials and biomedical engineering with particular attention to space applications. I have been involved in several international and multidisciplinary projects funded by ESA and NATO during this period. I had the opportunity to meet and work with great researchers from Belgium, Japan, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain.

Vanya Miskovic

Why did you decide to apply for the Education for Women's Empowerment call?

When I saw the Education for Women's Empowerment call, I realized it would be an opportunity to continue my research career. 

I was drawn to the goals and multidisciplinary nature. During the last years of my PhD I worked on a project that aimed to implement AI in medicine, more specifically in burn diagnostics. This was the part of the research that interested me most and the call therefore represents an opportunity to put to good use the knowledge and experience I acquired in my studies.

What does working for this project represent for you? 

I was delighted when I found out I was selected! It was a reward for all the hard work of the previous years. Being part of this project is an opportunity to do stimulating and meaningful work. On the one hand, I will do what I love, research that will help people and make a contribution to society; on the other hand, I will do my best to motivate other women to pursue their careers in the STEM field.

How important is the contribution of women in research?

The contribution of women in research and science over the years has always been significant, but often it has not obtained the right recognition.

The Matilda Effect is a phenomenon that describes how the result of a woman's research work is wholly or partly attributed to a man. The situation is changing and today we can see many successful women in science and research, including in STEM subjects. I have been lucky enough to work with incredible women and great experts in different fields. I must say that women engaged in science, in addition to giving a significant boost to research, are also a source of inspiration and good role models for the next generations.

What is your message to young girls who want to pursue careers in STEM subjects?

The path will be characterized by ups and downs and will face many failures. My message is to find a way to learn from failures, be patient and work hard, but most of all, believe in your ideas and not be afraid to express opinions.