The scientist

Maura Statzu, the young sulcitan girl on the front line in Atlanta against Covid-19

"We are looking for the definitive cure, we will get to the vaccine"
maura satzu (archivio l unione sarda)
Maura Satzu (archivio L'Unione Sarda)

From Nuraxi Figus to one of the world's virology temples: it is the incredible leap made by a very young Sardinian scientist. After graduating from the University of Cagliari and the master's degree from Sapienza in Rome, Maura Statzu, 31, flew to Atlanta (Georgia), to Emory University. Not just any university: the head of the Pathology department and director of the Microbiology and Immunology division at the Yerkes national primate research center is Guido Silvestri, the scientist and scientific popularizer at the forefront of the fight against Sars-cov2.

THE WORK - A privileged observatory that of the Sulcitan scientist. Which directly deals with HIV ("a disease that continues to cause one million deaths a year"). And he shares the same optimism as his mentor.

Recently Silvestri wrote on Facebook that the coronavirus "has no hope". She, for her part, flaunts the same confidence when talking about HIV. "We are looking for the definitive cure, we will get to the vaccine." Obviously, in these hours all the spotlights are focused on the fight against coronavirus. "Emory University is working on all fronts: a serological test has been developed and, in the meantime, therapies, antiviral drugs and even vaccines are being studied". Progress has already been made. "In our university we are testing them."

OPTIMISM - The search for immunization is the one followed with greater interest by the whole world population: only when there is a vaccine, will covid-19 stop being a nightmare. "The light at the end of the tunnel can be seen even if, obviously, it takes time".

Someone argues that it is useless to think of a vaccine since the virus is RNA and, therefore, changes quickly. "Sure. But other RNA virus vaccines already exist."

Among the many approaches followed by Emory is that of recognizing and neutralizing the spike protein, the one that allows the virus to enter the human cell. "Every week, Silvestri brings us together in a meeting to talk about the progress that is being made from time to time. He is a true leader, a great motivator. Impossible not to share his optimism. By the way, here we have the great fortune to work with scientists from all over the world: the exchange of knowledge, of cultures proves to be another weapon ". After all, the simplest recipe in the world. In fact, there is also another. "My suggestion? Never as in this period do you need to place trust in scientists, researchers and doctors."

THE TRANSFER - A career that deserves to be told that of the young Sulcitan scientist. "After my master's degree at Sapienza, I stayed in Rome for a doctorate in experimental medicine in virology and immunology. There I learned that Silvestri was looking for post doc: I got to talk to him when he was in Rome for a congress. In November 2018 I did the ' application and in June of last year I moved to Atlanta ".

The war against a treacherous virus like the one that causes HIV; a war destined for success: the best for a scientist. But Statzu is also a young Sardinian. "What do I miss about Sardinia? Everything. The affections, the friends, the family, the sea, the food, the climate. Of course, we are in the south of the United States: here in Georgia the climate is warm. But you want to compare it with that of Sardinia? ".

Marcello Cocco

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