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Valeria Matranga (1954-2016). In memoriam
by staff
8 May 2016

Valeria Matranga, after a long and courageous fight against illness, died on April 23rd  leaving us the memory of a researcher with a deep love for her work.

Valeria kept on working right until her last days with the same passion and perseverance that had distinguished her lifetime, remaining in touch with the scientific world and the members of her workgroup online.

Born in Palermo in 1954, Valeria Matranga graduated summa cum laude in Biological Sciences at the University of Palermo in 1976. In 1984 she joined the Institute of Developmental Biology at the Italian National Research Council (CNR) and in 2001 was appointed Senior Researcher at the Institute of Biomedicine and Molecular Immunology “A. Monroy”. Valeria built her career around the use of the model system she loved so much, the sea urchin, continuing an ancient tradition of the University and CNR of Palermo since the time of Alberto Monroy.

She started her career by studying the molecules involved in cell recognition and adhesion in sea urchin embryos, and then focusing on the molecules and genes that regulate the biomineralization process of the embryo and adult skeleton.

She was always attracted by invertebrate immunology with the challenge of understanding the molecular mechanisms behind the immune response and the processes of regeneration of a proxy to human model system.

She was the promoter and leader of numerous Italian and international research projects and was one of the first in Italy to enthusiastically accept the new challenges of technological transfer. Along this line, she extended her scientific interest to other fields of biology, like studying the cellular response of echinoderms to chemical and physical stress (including heavy metals, nanoparticles, UV and ionizing radiation), to validate biochemical markers of environmental pollution.

The dissemination of scientific knowledge is an aspect that Valeria strongly pursued by organising seminars, conferences, courses and workshops in Italy and abroad, contributing to the prestige of the Institute of Developmental Biology and then of the Institute of Biomedicine and Molecular Immunology “A. Monroy” of CNR.

Throughout her career, Valeria was a loyal and passionate member of the International Cell Stress Society (ICSS) and the Italian Association of Cell Biology and Differentiation (ABCD), firmly convinced of the role that scientific societies have in aggregating scientists and disseminating science. In particular she always affirmed the irreplaceable role that a scientific society has in supporting young scientists.

The memory of Valeria, of her passion for research, her boundless enthusiasm and great humanity, will remain forever engraved in the mind of those who had the privilege of knowing her.

Personally we will miss Valeria, her ability to think clearly, her strength and her friendly smile.


Sergio Giannattasio and Alessandra Montecucco