Prof.ssa Tina Crippa Franceschi (1925 - 1992)

Tina Crippa Franceschi is to be considered, in every respect, a pioneer and a promoter of Italia Protozoology. After graduating in Natural Science at the University of Genoa (Italy), her interest was almost entirely devoted to ciliates which were not widely investigated in Italy at that time. She acquired the fundamental bases of these studies at Prof. Geoffrey H. Beale’s lab, Institute of Animal Genetics, Edinburgh, during her stay in 1955 and in the following years. Coming back to Italy, she shared her experience with students and focused their attention on protozoological research. So, she created the lab in Genoa and convincingly managed it, all the time with a lively enthusiasm. The high interest which inspired her activity suggested to her the idea of founding a scientific society to promote protozoological studies in Italy. She discussed the project with Prof. Renzo Nobili after the 2nd International Congress of Protozoology, London, 1965, and in the same year, the Italian Society of Protozoology was thus established. She was a member of its Management Committee, and, until 1979, of the International Commission of Protozoology. Her  earliest research experience were made on Colpoda. She considered the phenomenon of chromatin extrusion as a process that play san important role in macronuclear DNA regulation and is involved in the late occurrence of senescence observed in this genus, as well as, in possible rejuvenescence of aged lines found after their long-term resting encystment. The study of “Dauermodifikationen” intrigue Tina Crippa Franceschi for many years and was a fundamental step in her scientific activity.

At the symposium on Genetics and Physiology of Ciliates in Shelter Island, New Your, 1966, she proposed her conclusion about the cytoplasmic hereditary basis of these acquired long-lasting change.

The inspiring concept to her research was the belief that cell models of ciliates respond to general principle ruling all living organisms and, therefore, that they can provide a reading key that renders the basis of phenomena observed as common or peculiar in more complex organisms understandable. From this point of view she approached the study of sexual differentiation, a fascinating topic in which she had lately benne strongly engaged. After proving the relationship between cell lines’ growth rate and mating type expression in Paramecium primaurelia, she transferred the Paramecium pattern of mating type differentiation to that of sexual differentiation in embryo development of vertebrates. She suggested that different growth rates of human male and female cell lines are related to her finding of different total amount in the constitutive heterochromatin of their karyotypes. Moreover, she supported that “cell lines’ growth rate and phenotype expression” had a certain significance also in the development of human illnesses linked to chromosomic aberrations.