Chiara TonelliVice-Rector for Research - Università degli studi di Milano
Chiara Tonelli is Vice-Rector for research and Professor of Genetics at the University of Milan (Italy), and leader of the group of Plant Molecular Genetics at the Department of Biosciences. Current member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), and former member of various scientific committees and advisory boards in Italy and abroad. She currently sits in the evaluation panel of the European Research Council (ERC) for the allocation of Advanced Grants, is a member of the Scientific Committee of the European Joint Programme Initiative (JPI) “Healthy Diet for Healthy Life”, of the Policy Committee of the League of European Research Intesive Universities (LERU) and of the Strategic Committee of the Sorbonne University. Former member of the European Commission Advisory Group on “Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology.” and of the board of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO).
She is also president of the Scientific Committeee of Fondazione Umberto Veronesi. She has published over 100 articles on international scientific publications and led several projects sponsored by Italian agencies and the European Union. She cooperates as a reviewer with several scientific journals and research grant agencies (USDA, EMBO, TWAS, Human Frontier, Harvard-Armenise Foundation). Since 2005, she acts as the Secretary General of the international conference “The Future of Science,” a series of conferences focused on science and the society which brings together leading experts from various disciplines, to present and discuss the impact of scientific development on the society.
Her scientific interests range from the foundations of plant biology to biotechnological applications. Her studies focus on deciphering the logics behind transcriptional and gene regulation in plants, both during their development and in their interaction with the environment and to understand the role of plant bioactives on health using “omic” technologies.
Science and Food Security
The right to food is a basic human right and itis realized when every man, woman and child has the physical and economic access at all times to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. This should be a top priority for governments and a goal embraced by citizens everywhere. Ending malnutrition is not just a moral imperative, but also a good investment for society. In the coming decades three billion additional people will have to be fed while less arable land is utilized. Plants also start to play a major role in supplying the ever-increasingenergy needs. Needless to say that efficient utilization of bio-energy crops has to be fully compatible and non-competitive with agriculture for food and feed production . How can we deal with these exponentially growing demands for food, feed and bio-energy? There is an obvious and urgent need to further increase crop productivity. We have to produce more high quality and safe food on less land with a minimum input of water, fertilizers, and agrochemicals. To cope with the detrimental effects of climate changes on crop yield it is imperative to develop new crops with higher performance under abiotic stresses and particularly water scarcity, able to consume less water and to maintain high efficiency. Moreover people must be persuaded to adopt healthier and more environmentally-friendly diets than those taken up in the developed world. The double burden of malnutrition – with hunger existing alongside obesity, diabetes, and other diseases of overconsumption – clearly shows the increasing importance of global dietary rebalancing.