Ilaria Capua

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One of the most internationally influential Italian scientists, Ilaria Capua has directed research groups in Italy and abroad for over thirty years, focusing on viral infections transmissible from animals to humans, as well as their pandemic potential.

She pioneered open access science applied to pandemic preparedness, devising and laying the groundwork for a platform dedicated to sharing genetic data on viruses in order to accelerate and optimize pandemic emergency response. This initiative––taken up by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal––turned the existing paradigm on its head. Thanks to this platform, millions of Sars-CoV-2 sequences are available in publicly accessible databases today.

Appointed Grand Officer Ordine al Merito della Repubblica in 2012, from 2013 to 2016 she was a deputy in the Italian Parliament at the invitation of then-incumbent Prime Minister Mario Monti.

From 2016 to 2023, she directed the University of Florida’s “One Health” Center of Excellence, where she developed the concept of Circular Health, promoting the advancement of health as an integrated system through interdisciplinary approaches.

She is the author of best-selling books that include The Virus Smuggler (Rizzoli, 2017), Circular Health (Egea, 2019), The After: The Virus That Forced Us to Change Mind Map (Mondadori, 2020), Wonder and Transformation (Mondadori, 2021), and The Courage Not to Be Afraid (Solferino, 2022). She has also written books for children, including: I Know You, Little Mask (La Coccinella, 2020), The Secret Journeys of Viruses (De Agostini, 2021), Ring Around the World (La Coccinella, 2021) and Key Words of Circular Health (Aboca Edizioni, 2023)

A number of documentaries have been made about her career, including the 2021 film The Virus Smuggler, starring Anna Foglietta.

She has been the recipient of countless awards, including in 2008 the Scientific American 50 Award, given to the top 50 researchers in the world, and in 2021 the Hypatia Prize for Life Sciences awarded by the European Academy of Sciences.

In 2023 she was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Medicine and Surgery degree from the University of Palermo.