“I would like to be a role model for other colleagues”

Since 2018, Martina Stefanini has been working as a researcher at the University of Bologna in the Department of Periodontology, headed by Professor Giovanni Zucchelli. She graduated from the University of Bologna back in 2005, where she also completed her PhD in Biomedical Sciences. The Osteology Foundation spoke with Martina about her career.

Osteology Foundation: What was your first contact with the Osteology Foundation?

MS: I decided to attend the Osteology Research Academy in Lucerne in 2014. I think that this was a milestone in my professional life. I had the chance to really study the methodological aspect behind research. Since I mainly focus on clinical research on patients, the preclinical aspects were less important for me. However, I found the methodological and histological part very interesting. It was something that really inspired and motivated me in the next years of my professional career. The course is very well organised. It is a full, intense week where you are completely immersed in research.

OF: If you think back, what other aspects stayed in your mind?

MS: I also remember the country of Switzerland, which is so different from Italy. Whenever I went to the course building and also when I walked home, there were so few people on the street and I always wondered where they were. Or also that in Switzerland a car stops immediately when you approach a pedestrian crossing. But it was just the mentality and not the number of people on the streets that was different from Italy. It was just nice to see how different but still beautiful the two mentalities are.

OF: In 2016, you attended the International Osteology Symposium in Monaco as a participant. Do you remember anything in particular?

MS: The session moderated by Isabella Rocchietta, who was already a female leader at that time, stayed in my mind in particular. And let's just say she was one of my role models. Even though we are more or less the same age, she was an inspiration to me. I was also able to learn at the symposium and had the opportunity to build my professional network.


Martina Stefanini at the International Osteology Symposium Barcelona 2019

OF: Three years later, you changed the role and were a speaker and moderator at the Next ReGeneration Corner during International Osteology Symposium Barcelona. How was this experience for you?

MS: It was a super interesting experience to debate different topics. We had the opportunity to discuss a specific topic in a very informal way between a group of well-known speakers. In my opinion, this made it very easy for the audience to hear the opinion of a leader who does not present and show cases with reference to the evidence base, but simply presents his spontaneous opinion.

OF: If you had to choose, would you rather attend an international Osteology event or a national one?

MS: The International Osteology Symposium is, of course, a big event with a great opportunity to meet people from all over the world. So, if I had to choose between a national and an international event, I would naturally choose the international event. However, on the other hand, I think it is also very important to build a relationship within your own country and develop a network there. That is also the idea of the Foundation's National Osteology Groups. The intention behind the groups is to give people the opportunity and make it easier for them to build a national network and speak in their own language.

OF: The year 2020 was a very special one for all of us. You were invited to speak at the National Osteology Symposium USA in Orlando, but the physical event was cancelled and held virtually due to Covid-19. How was your experience with this new format?

MS: Of course, I was very sad that we could not hold the event physically. But considering the circumstances, it was a great solution, a new experience and also had its positive aspects. The event itself was a great success. I was also very happy to have the chance to work with William Giannobile, who is a superstar in our field. But I think it is a completely different thing to lecture in front of people than it is to lecture alone in front of a screen on your couch at home. So, I really hope that the situation will improve soon and that physical events can take place again, because from a professional point of view, it is easier as a speaker at a symposium if you can talk to people and feel the audience. I would love to be a speaker again then. And do not forget, I am Italian, I need the physical contact with people. However, to summarise, it is important to find a good balance between, on the one hand, virtual events that are also always available online, like webinars, and that reduce travel and time, and, on the other hand, all physical events where you can build your network.



OF: You are not only a speaker at different events, but also part of the Foundation’s Expert Council and member of the leadership team of the National Osteology Group Italy. What do you do there exactly and what are your plans?

MS: In the leadership team, we prepare the group's webinar programme and plan the group’s further activities. We started the first year of the National Osteology Group Italy with some well-known speakers. This year, we want to include and push some younger speakers, new talents. We want to give them the opportunity to show their material. Now we are very excited about the first National Osteology Group Italy Annual Meeting on 7 May 2021 in Milan. We are keeping our fingers crossed that it can physically take place in Milan. But I am always positive, and hope dies last. The gender balance is also a very important topic for me. Our field is a 95% male world and I think that should change soon. There are many female colleagues with a dental degree who work in regeneration and should reach a higher position.

OF: Is there anything you would like to add?

MS: The Osteology Foundation has been really important to my professional life. If a young professional or a student were to ask me how they can improve or get more involved in this field, I would definitely recommend that they become part of the Foundation. Together with the Foundation, they can start from the basics and improve their knowledge. The Osteology Foundation has been able to build a system that can meet the needs throughout a dentist's career. I am very happy to be part of this organisation and to be able to be a role model and inspire other women. I am looking forward to many more projects where we can add value to all professionals in this field and support the Osteology Foundation.

OF: Thank you very much. We look forward to continuing our positive collaboration with you!