The Consul General of Italy in New York recently played host to a captivating event as part of the ongoing series “Meet the Italian Start-Ups in New York.” Moderated by the journalist Maria Teresa Cometto, the event featured two remarkable women: Cristina Maria Alberini, a distinguished neuroscientist and professor, and Elena Favilli, the visionary founder of Rebel Girls.
Elena Favilli, the founder and CEO of Rebel Girls, is a trailblazer in the realm of digital media. Her work includes the creation of the “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” series, a collection of children’s books that celebrate the achievements of women throughout history. The series has garnered widespread acclaim for introducing young readers to diverse role models, from Oprah and J.K. Rowling to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Frida Kahlo.
Before venturing into the world of children’s literature, Favilli made contributions as a journalist, writing for renowned publications such as The Guardian, COLORS Magazine, and La Repubblica. In 2016, she founded Rebel Girls with a mission to illuminate the lives of influential women and inspire the next generation.
Under Favilli’s leadership, Rebel Girls has expanded its impact with four additional children’s books, translated into nearly 50 languages. The reach of her vision extends to the airwaves through “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: The Podcast,” where each episode narrates the stories voiced by figures like Melinda Gates and Jameela Jamil. Notably, Season 2 of the podcast earned the Best in Education award at the 2019 Podcast Awards.
The event also featured Cristina Maria Alberini, an Italian neuroscientist with a profound focus on unraveling the intricacies of long-term memory. As a Professor in Neuroscience at the Center for Neural Science at New York University and an adjunct professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Alberini has dedicated her career to understanding the biological mechanisms that underlie memory storage and consolidation.
Her start-up, RITROVA THERAPEUTICS, boasts a platform comprising several compounds with breakthrough potential for treating neurodevelopmental disorders, including rare diseases, as well as neurodegenerative diseases. The company has identified a novel mechanism that targets a common problem observed in many devastating brain diseases where there is currently no effective treatment: protein metabolism alteration leading to protein accumulation. Currently, RITROVA THERAPEUTICS is in the process of raising financing, which will provide the necessary runway to complete Investigational New Drug (IND) and Phase I/II studies, as well as expand its human resources.
Alberini’s research delves into the cellular and molecular processes involved in the stabilization of memories, providing crucial insights into the fundamental workings of the human brain. Her work also encompasses the study of memory retrieval and reconsolidation, shedding light on the dynamic nature of our cognitive processes.
Recognizing her contributions to the field, Alberini was elected to the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives in 2017 and received the Lombardy Region Rosa Camuna Award in 2019.
The convergence of science and storytelling at the “Meet the Italian Start-Ups in New York” event exemplifies the power of diverse perspectives in driving innovation. Elena Favilli and Cristina Maria Alberini, each in their respective fields, exemplify the impact that passionate individuals can have on shaping the future.