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Luca Franchini
Luca Franchini

Meet Luca Franchini, who works as a psychologist for the Assistenza Nazionale Tumori, ANT Foundation, a partner of the ORION Open Science project.

Firstly, tell us a bit about ANT

ANT Foundation is one of the largest European organisations in the field of home supportive and palliative care for cancer patients and their families. 

ANT operates within the fields of cancer prevention, pain management, training activities, scientific and ethic research. It is a non-profit organization, made up of a broad base of volunteers (approximately 2,000) and a pool of health care professionals (physicians, nurses, and psychologists) which provide free home care service, 24 hours per day.

What comes to mind when you talk about open science?

When I talk about Open Science an image comes up in my mind: an open stage curtain which allows people to look behind. Another concept that is closely associated to open science is public engagement. I actually think Open Science means giving back to the research a full sense, which could be contaminated by people who are not scientists but who definitely are involved in it. In other words, Open Science means aligning the processes of research and innovation with the values, needs, and expectations of society from the beginning. 

What is the motivation behind ANT getting involved in the ORION Open Science project?

ANT assists for free almost 3,000 patients in 31 provinces of 11 Italian regions every day and has been close to 130,000 families since 1978. For this reason, ANT Foundation has been chosen as a partner, in order to encourage and ensure the involvement of the citizen, specifically cancer patients and their caregivers, as well as health care professionals. 

ANT has been carrying out psycho-social research for many years, to investigate and improve the quality of life of the people who it assists. With the ORION project ANT decided to give its contribution also to basic research in enriching its processes with the voice of those who are not scientists.

What do you hope to achieve through the project?

Common people usually think scientific research is something detached from reality and I have often heard patients' statements like “I really believe in Science!” or “I don’t believe so much in the scientific research”. Instead, research is not a matter of beliefs, but a process made by innovation, technology and above all by people.

Considering different points of view makes the research processes more effective and close to common people or patients, who on the one hand could have a clearer idea about Science, and on the other hand they actually can give an important contribution to its processes. To this aim, ANT can be a bridge between labs and patients, contributing to find ways to put in contact these two subjects.

What do you see is the greatest challenge for ORION? 

The language. To involve citizens (and all the stakeholders) we need to leave technical terms, renew the manner we share information and embrace new ways to communicate. Certainly, it’s not easy for scientists to step back and rethink the way they communicate with people. Indeed communication issues should have taken into strong consideration in so many fields. In the same way, in our field, physicians usually struggle to communicate in a clearer way with patients. Metaphors could be a powerful and advantageous tool to get in touch with people that are not experts. 

What do you personally find most interesting and exciting about the ORION project? 

Involving oncological patients can offer them the possibility to be part of a process that, on the one hand, may help scientists in designing new and more accurate treatment strategies; on the other hand it may contribute to return usefulness and hope to suffering people: as a matter of fact, patients’ contributions may have an impact on people that are developing the same illness in the future. 

In one year, when the project is coming to an end, what is your dream scenario for ORION? 

I hope that ORION purposes will survive beyond the end of this project. I hope that ORION will achieve the interest of key stakeholders, to trigger a process that raises attractiveness for such a forward-looking way to do research in different fields. 

I hope that co-creation methods will be considered consolidated procedures for researchers in the future. Strong networks may be established which may have a strong effect on the greatest part of scientific communities and labs. 

I hope in the future that ‘Science’ will be replaced by ‘Open Science’.