Recorded: 04 Jun 2004
I feel very satisfied of my choice as I just mentioned. That is not that I didn’t encounter difficulties. Again, many difficulties I had in Italy and sometimes also here in the United States. Particularly because I am not really following the beaten path sometimes. And then I encountered some—I was ostracized for example even on that method that was published…like this is not important. Because some quote "people follow more the fashion of the moment" and when you say something slightly different its very difficult. And on top of course, even if I speak English relatively good and I write it, I still have a very strong accent. So people are a little bit diffident at times, to, or, "it comes from her," so they look at you a little bit hesitant if what you say is correct or not. So I had a little bit of reticence sometimes, but I would say the great scientists that I met, there were some that instead encouraged me very greatly. So that is what I am telling my students. That they should just persevere. Actually, one of my mentors always saying you are—there are two types of Italian scientists; scientists you want to eat spaghetti with and the scientists you want to do science with and you are one of the second types. So this guy was Dr. Frederick Bollum that was who told you want to have science that lasts today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. So this is what he told me is still in my mind and I repeat to my students, you know. Basically you want to stick to your ideas and to persevere without being rigid, but at the same time when you are convinced of something you have to persevere. Truth always comes out in science. That is what I favor.
Nicoletta Sacchi, Ph.D., is a Professor and Distinguished Member of the Department of Cancer Biology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York where she has been focusing on gene regulation in cancer cells since 2003. Native to Milan, Italy, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Milan in 1972, followed by postdoctoral work at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, at the Roche Institute of Immunology in Basel under Nobelist Georges Köhler.
In 1982 she came to the United States to continue her postdoctoral training at the National Cancer Institute. She returned to Italy in 1991 to become an Associate Professor at the University of Milan, until 1997 when she decided to make the US her home. That year she became a Visiting Scientist at Johns Hopkins University.
In 2002 Dr. Sacchi, was named the most cited women scientist and the 18th most cited scientist worldwide That year she received recognition for having the most quoted paper over the 20 year period from 1983 to 2002, "Single-step method of RNA isolation by acid guanidinium thiocyanate phenol chloroform extraction" Analytical Biochemistry 162(1):156-9,1987, which she co-wrote with Piotr Chomczynski.. This article has been cited over 56,000 times as of January, 2008.
Dr. Sacchi has been awarded the EMBO Award (1974 and 1981), the Soroptimist International Award (1976), AIRC Award (1984), the Gianina Gaslini Medal (1989), and the BIOTEC Award (1989.)