Michela Bertero: “IDIBAPS should be a center of attraction for international talent”
In late 2021, Michela Bertero joined IDIBAPS as its new Director of Strategy. After her first few months in the job, she tells us how she views the institution and its future challenges and goals.
Born in Genoa, she studied Biology at the University of Pavia where she also completed her PhD in Genetics. She then did two post-doctorates, one in Vancouver and the other in Munich, where she met Luis Serrano, who was about to move to the Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, and offered her a position as Project Manager.
Yes, the last 11 as the head of international and scientific affairs. I’ve learned a lot about different aspects of management, science politics, training, etc. I am very pleased because I began alone, and I left a team of ten people who play a strategic role at CRG.
Science has become much more complex, and the structure has needed to expand, diversify, and professionalize. Before, perhaps all you needed was a scientific director and an economic director. Not anymore. Experts in several fields are needed for the center to function and to facilitate the work of its researchers.
Science has become much more complex, and the structure of the centers has needed to expand, diversify, and professionalize.
I wanted to grow professionally. And I have always been interested in the collaboration between basic and translational research and, after 15 years at a basic-research center, it seemed like a good opportunity for me to join a translational-research center.
I knew about the institution, that it’s very big, complex, and with a lot of talent. Perhaps what surprised me was the variety of profiles: from basic researchers, like those you might find at CRG, to more clinical researchers. I was also surprised at the fact that it’s a very efficient institution, given its size in comparison to its resources.
IIDBAPS is a very big, complex, and with a lot of talent institution.
It is responsible for supervising and coordinating several teams: Scientific Coordination, Knowledge and Technology Transfer, Institutional Actions, Laboratories, Technological Platforms, and Communication. Together, we provide support for management, by defining institutional goals and the actions needed to achieve them.
Many and varied. Attracting more talent from abroad, for example. We have many researchers who are benchmarks in their field and who are known internationally. We need to ensure that the institution is also known and recognized, and that prestigious scientists want to come here. To this end, we also want more European grants and to be present in more international networks.
We want to be known abroad, but we also want to be better known at home. We must encourage internal collaboration. Likewise, we have more than 100 groups, and it is sometimes hard for them all to know what the others are doing. One of our jobs is to promote internal collaboration and generate synergies to increase the impact of the research.
I also think it is important for us to position ourselves on aspects such as Open Science, gender equality, diversity, and sustainability.
Besides internationalization, it is important for us to position ourselves on aspects such as Open Science, gender equality, diversity, and sustainability.
We need to promote quality over quantity. But we also need to better define what we mean by quality and review the way groups are evaluated; you can’t base everything just on bibliometric indicators. The numerical indicators need to be accompanied by a qualitative evaluation of the science and other aspects, such as leadership, training, knowledge transfer and/or impact on the public. We need to define what these aspects are and what importance we place on them. It’s an open debate in many research centers in Europe and throughout the world.
A large proportion of our professionals are also from the hospital and the University of Barcelona. In many areas, we work together, like a single campus. It is important for us to further strengthen these synergies in strategic areas such as gender equality or promoting innovation, which is another major challenge that we face.
It is crucial that we further strengthen synergies with Hospital Clínic and the University of Barcelona on strategic issues.
I would like to see that the goals I have mentioned have been achieved. That is, that we have become a center of attraction for international talent, that we have a higher proportion of women as group leaders, that we have improved group evaluation, that we have strengthened technology transfer, that we work in close coordination with other entities on the campus, and so much more. This will only be possible with the involvement and collaboration of every one of us; I am sure that, if this is the case, we can achieve all this.