‘It is my opinion that humanity shares some fundamental building blocks, innate drives that give rise to activities such as science and medicine, art, philosophy, exploration, sports, and many others. History may support this view, as these activities arose spontaneously, and/or took hold rapidly, in different parts of the world at different times, reflecting profound human needs, forces that move us toward knowledge, creativity and self-improvement. In contrast, geography does not support the arbitrary borders we have created, often through the use of violence. And genetics firmly denies socially-defined categories of races. Thus, these building blocks may be deeper and truer than artefactual excuses on which divisions of humans into ‘us’ and ‘them’ are based. Science, arts etc. represent a common discourse, understood by humanity across languages. Yet, they find their nourishment in diversity, in the synergy of cultural backgrounds and variety of experiences. Science, in itself, is evidence to such need for diversity. It truly thrives only when it can build on fresh ideas and perspectives. Importantly, it only thrives when it is carried out by teams of scientists with highly diversified, complementary intellectual and methodological skills, expertises and backgrounds, unconstrained by irrelevant considerations on geography, skin color or religious background. In the field of Neuroscience, great strides have been made toward the understanding of brain functions and brain disorders. Yet, we may have only barely scratched the surface. A world-wide effort is critical to the continuation of this progress. With the firm conviction that a fair and just society is based on scientific knowledge, I believe that it is our responsibility as scientists to foster and protect collaborative efforts between countries. The Science Bridge represents an important example of such efforts. I take its emphasis on building bridges between Eastern and Western countries both as symbolic in the context of these divisive times, and primarily as a pragmatic agenda critical to fostering the progress of Science.’
Sabina Berretta attended Medical School at the Universita’ di Catania, Italy, and carried out research in basic neuroscience at the same university, Department of Human Physiology. She then moved to the USA to do postdoctoral research training, first with Ann M. Graybiel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and later with Francine M Benes, at McLean Hospital – Harvard Medical School. Currently, Sabina is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, the Director of the Translational Neuroscience Research and Scientific Director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center, at McLean Hospital – Harvard Medical School. Her research efforts are focused on the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorder, with particular emphasis on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.