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Working on cancer


Fiona at school
Renato Dulbecco Scientist
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And this went well, because our daughter, at this time, had reached six years of age and had completely developed her own ideas, etc., she was no longer easily influenced as she would have been if she was here with us, she had a very strong character, very... and so we returned. Naturally, the problem was also for her, because when we came back to 'La Jolla', where the institute was, we had bought a house for us to live there. Close to this house, there was a school, which was the school of that town, so naturally, we sent her there and so she started to go there. And we realised afterwards that her character totally changed; instead of being how she was before, very expansive, very... she was so quiet, closed, she didn't talk much, when we asked her about school she had nothing to say, etc., and so we went to talk to the teacher and she said, 'Yes, this little girl is very advanced' – because she was in first grade, in first elementary – 'she is very advanced but, on the other hand, we cannot do anything, we can't change this'.

[Q] As was the habit in your family.

So we tried to get her to teach a Russian boy, who had to learn English, etc., but this wasn't something that appealed to her. So I went to speak... so I went to speak to Salk and he said that he knew someone, the head of a private school and we went to speak to her and she said, 'Well, let's look at the girl'. 'Oh, this girl could perhaps be put into the fourth grade', however, she said it will be too much because the age difference would be too great. She said, 'We'll put her in third grade'.

[Q] So she was two years advanced as well.

Yes, she started with a two-year advantage.

[Q] So this is a family tradition then?

Oh, well yes!

E questo forse andava bene, perché nostra figlia, a quell'epoca, aveva raggiunto, mi pare, sei anni e aveva completamente sviluppato delle idee, ecc, non era più influenzabile facilmente come sarebbe stata se fosse stata qui da noi, anzi aveva un carattere molto fermo, molto... e così siamo ritornati. Naturalmente il problema è stato anche per lei, perché quando siamo rivenuti a La Jolla, dove c'è l'istituto, abbiamo comprato una casa per abitarci lì. Nelle vicinanze di questa casa c'era una scuola, che era la scuola proprio della città... naturalmente l'avremmo mandata lì e infatti ha cominciato ad andare lì. E ci siamo accorti dopo che il carattere è completamente cambiato; invece di essere com'era prima, molto espansiva, molto... era tanto solitaria, chiusa, non parlava molto, quando si chiedeva della scuola non aveva niente da dire, ecc. e poi allora siamo andati a parlare con la maestra e lei diceva, 'Sì, questa bambina è molto più avanti' perché era in prima, in prima elementare e molto più avanti ma 'd'altra parte noi non possiamo fare niente, non possiamo cambiare questo'...

[Q] Come avevate poi d'abitudine in famiglia.

Allora abbiamo cercato di metterla lì che istruisse un ragazzo russo, che perciò doveva imparare l'inglese, così ecc., ma quella non era una cosa che l'attraeva. Per cui sono andato a parlare... anzi sono andato a parlare a Salk e lui dice che conosceva una persona, una direttrice di una scuola privata e siamo andati a parlare a lei e lei dice, 'Beh, esaminiamola la ragazza'. 'Ah, questa ragazza potremmo metterla forse in quarta', però, dice, 'Quello è troppo, perché', dice, 'la differenza di età sarebbe troppo forte'. Dice, 'La metteremo in terza'. Anche lei due anni. Perciò ha cominciato con il vantaggio dei due anni.

[Q] È una tradizione di famiglia, allora questa?

Eh, si vede!

The Italian biologist Renato Dulbecco (1914-2012) had early success isolating a mutant of the polio virus which was used to create a life-saving vaccine. Later in his career, he initiated the Human Genome Project and was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1975 for furthering our understanding of cancer caused by viruses.

Listeners: Paola De Paoli Marchetti

Paola De Paoli Marchetti is a science journalist who graduated with an honours degree in foreign languages and literature from the University Ca’Foscari, Venice. She has been a science journalist since the 1960s and has been on the staff of the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore since 1970. She was elected president of UGIS (Italian Association of Science Journalists) in 1984. She has been a Member of the Board of EUSJA (European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations, Strasbourg), and was its president in 1987-1988 and 1998-2000. In May 2000 she was unanimously elected president emeritus. She was a member of the National Council of Italian Journalists (1992-1998). From 2002 to 2004 she was member of the working group for scientific communication of the National Committee for Biotechnology. She has also been a consultant at the Italian Ministry of Research and Technology and editor-in-chief of the publication MRST, policy of science and technology. She has co-authored many publications in the field of scientific information, including Le biotecnologie in Italia, Le piste della ricerca and Luna vent’anni dopo.

Tags: school, education

Duration: 2 minutes, 28 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008