Marta Bertolaso

Marta Bertolaso
Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma | unicampus · Institute of Philosophy of Scientific and Technological Practice (FAST)

Biology - Philosophy

About

113
Publications
21,195
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Introduction
Marta Bertolaso currently works as Professor of Philosophy of Science, Faculty of Engineering, at the Institute of Philosophy of Scientific and Technological Practice (FAST), University Campus Bio-Medico of Rome, Italy. Marta does research in Cancer Research, Systems Biology and Molecular Biology.
Additional affiliations
April 2013 - May 2014
IEO - Istituto Europeo di Oncologia
Position
  • Visiting Fellow
Description
  • Ref. Giovanni Boniolo.
September 2012 - December 2012
University of Pittsburgh
Position
  • Visiting Fellow
January 2012 - September 2017
Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma
Position
  • Professor
Education
January 2008 - December 2010
Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma
Field of study
  • Institute of Philosophy of the Scientific and Technological Activity
September 1990 - October 1995
University of Milan
Field of study

Publications

Publications (113)
Article
Full-text available
One of the most challenging goals in social robotics is implementing emotional skills. Making robots capable of expressing and deciphering emotions is considered crucial for allowing humans to socially interact with them. In addition to presenting technical challenges, the implementation of artificial emotions in artificial systems raises intriguin...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past 20 years, the impression has arisen that therapeutic approaches based on DNA sequencing data and mutation analyses of tumor tissue have been advanced through an ever better understanding of their scientific basis. Their success in the clinic was therefore almost inevitably expected. However, this hope to have finally found the long-so...
Preprint
Full-text available
This paper stemmed from the meeting “Personalized Medicine: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Complexity” that was held in Rome (Campus Biomedico), February 2-4 2020. The paper is a chapter of the volume "Personalized Medicine: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Complexity, Springer Nature" (eds. C. Beneduce and M. Bertolaso), Springer (forthcoming).
Article
Full-text available
In the process of scientific discovery, knowledge ampliation is pursued by means of non-deductive inferences. When ampliative reasoning is performed, probabilities cannot be assigned objectively. One of the reasons is that we face the problem of the unconceived alternatives: we are unable to explore the space of all the possible alternatives to a g...
Chapter
We firstly introduce the new Springer series Human Perspectives in Health Sciences and Technology (HPHST), and then we move on to illustrate the topic this volume deals with, namely whether machines will replace scientists in scientific development. We then explain the decision of having this volume to be the first volume of the HPHST series. Final...
Article
Calcium controls a large number of cellular processes at different scales. Decades of studies have pointed out the importance of calcium signaling in regulating differentiation, apoptosis, mitosis and functions such as secretion, muscle contraction and memory. The space-time structure of calcium signaling is central to this complex regulation. In p...
Article
In the last few decades, philosophy of science has increasingly focused on multilevel models and causal mechanistic explanations to account for complex biological phenomena. On the one hand, biological and biomedical works make extensive use of mechanistic concepts; on the other hand, philosophers have analyzed an increasing range of examples taken...
Book
This book provides a critical reflection on automated science and addresses the question whether the computational tools we developed in last decades are changing the way we humans do science. More concretely: Can machines replace scientists in crucial aspects of scientific practice? The contributors to this book re-think and refine some of the mai...
Article
This paper aims to show how the frequently asked question about the future of work, i.e. whether human beings are going to be replaced by machines and robots, arose, and why it is inadequate to account for the human and social value of jobs based on care. We discuss how the dimensions entailed in care professions are specifically human and argue th...
Article
Full-text available
Cancer research is experiencing ‘paradigm instability’, since there are two rival theories of carcinogenesis which confront themselves, namely the somatic mutation theory and the tissue organization field theory. Despite this theoretical uncertainty, a huge quantity of data is available thanks to the improvement of genome sequencing techniques. Som...
Article
Full-text available
The fall of reductionist approaches to explanation leaves biology with an unescapable challenge: how to decipher complex systems. This entails a number of very critical questions, the most basic ones being: “What do we mean by ‘complex’?” and “What is the system we should look for?” In complex systems, constraints belong to a higher level that the...
Article
The paper aims to design a map of human-Artificial Intelligence (a.i.) relationship by the concept of metamorphosis, which is describable as an external change of form but also a biological process of transformation. Therefore, this last concept becomes the key idea to analyze the feedback which is given by the device, made by a.i., to the subject...
Article
Full-text available
If well-designed, the results of a Randomised Clinical Trial (RCT) can justify a causal claim between treatment and effect in the study population; however, additional information might be needed to carry over this result to another population. RCTs have been criticized exactly on grounds of failing to provide this sort of information (Cartwright &...
Article
Full-text available
Nel presente articolo si analizzerà come, a fronte del para-digma transumanista che opera per una progressiva inclusione dell'uomo nel suo stesso processo di 'miglioramento' del mondo, è sempre più pressante la domanda sulla dinamica tra verità (truth) e fiducia (trust) nella relazione uomo-macchina e nella riflessione etica degli enti che orientan...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we argue, first, that there are very different research projects that fall under the heading of “systems biology of cancer.” While they share some general features, they differ in their aims and theoretical commitments. Second, we argue that some explanations in systems biology of cancer are concerned with properties of signaling n...
Chapter
Full-text available
In the last decade, Systems Biology has emerged as a conceptual and explanatory alternative to reductionist-based approaches in molecular biology. However, the foundations of this new discipline need to be fleshed out more carefully. In this paper, we claim that a relational ontology is a necessary tool to ground both the conceptual and explanatory...
Chapter
Robustness has lately become a bridging notion, in particular across the sciences of the natural and the artificial, crucial for prediction and control of natural and artificial systems in recent scientific practice, in biomedicine, neurobiology and engineering, as well as for risk management, planning and policy in ecology, healthcare, markets and...
Chapter
Full-text available
“I think that SB will still play an important role in appreciating, first of all, the explanatory relevance of systemic perspectives that hopefully will allow us to avoid reductionist and relativist perspectives or excessive simplifications driven by mere pluralistic accounts of human understanding and scientific knowledge. Therefore the irreducibi...
Article
Full-text available
The philosophical discussion of emergence is often focused on properties of ‘wholes’ that are evaluated as emergent with respect to the properties of ‘parts’. Downward causation is, consequently, evaluated as some kind of causal influence of whole properties over parts properties. Yet, several important cases in scientific practice seem to be pursu...
Article
Full-text available
The major transitions approach in evolutionary biology has shown that the intercellular cooperation that characterizes multicellular organisms would never have emerged without some kind of multilevel selection. Relying on this view, the Evolutionary Somatic view of cancer considers cancer as a breakdown of intercellular cooperation and as a loss of...
Book
Full-text available
Drawing on shared research experiences and collaborative projects, this book offers a broad and timely perspective on research on the hand and its current challenges. It especially emphasizes the interdisciplinary context in which researchers need to be trained in contemporary science. From language to psychology, from neurology to the social scien...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
New technologies might only partially solve the problem of elderly loneliness and social isolation. Ongoing studies analysed by means of a shared perspective promoted by London’s Home Renaissance Foundation (HRF) and Rome’s Bio-Techno-Practice (BTP) offer a theoretical perspective on this issue that could generate effective guidelines for technolog...
Article
Recent advances in biological sciences suggest that living beings have to be understood mostly in systemic terms, and characterized by the unitary integration of multiple level of causal dynamics over the time of their «life histories». Such focus on the interplay of synchronic and diachronic factors in the organism's processes of growth appeals to...
Chapter
The complex nature of human diseases, the significant differences between individuals, their own specificity and the inevitable variability in how a treatment is administered make pharmacological research extremely difficult. Due to the inability to completely predict how a product will affect individual patients, it’s not unusual for a drug to sho...
Chapter
Full-text available
Starting from two different case studies—cancer explanatory theories and musical consonance and dissonance perception theories—we aim to show how different analytical aspects of complex phenomena can be grasped by apparently divergent accounts. Reaching a more adequate understanding of these phenomena thus needs an integrated systemic view in which...
Chapter
Cancer is a multi-level and multi-causal phenomenon characterized by wild heterogeneity of effects. In this chapter I articulate these descriptive terms, presenting first the cross-level phenomenology of cancer (gene, genome, cell, cell-cell interaction, tissue, organism etc.). I devote particular attention to the distinction between two processes...
Chapter
The Tissue Organization Field Theory (TOFT) postulates that neoplasia arises from a problem of three-dimensional organization of a tissue, not from a cell gone awry by mutation or by other mechanisms. The chapter illustrates the theory, the evidence and the experimental approach. It then analyzes the ‘holistic’ version of the theory that is propose...
Chapter
In this chapter I outline some aspects that characterize biological explanations when the explananda are “functionalities”, ongoing dynamics. This sketch of a theory of explanation is tightly linked with the notion of Operational Integrating Systems, and, more generally, with all the dimensions of the Dynamic and Relational View of cancer explored...
Chapter
Since the 1970s, the origin of cancer is being explored from the point of view of genetic mutations and clonal expansion of somatic cells. As cancer research expanded in several directions, while the dominant focus on cells remained steady, more and more classes of genes and kinds of extra-genetic factors that were shown to have causal relevance in...
Chapter
To account for carcinogenesis and cancer dynamics, in this chapter I present a Dynamic and Relational View and a Relational Ontology of biological levels and processes. From an ontological point of view, I claim that the multilevel phenomenology of cancer reveals the peculiar dynamic organization of metazoans, that I characterise through the concep...
Chapter
A satisfactory explanation of a complex biological phenomenon like cancer implies different questions that are simultaneously present: some are related with the definition of the system, others with the definition of the relata of the explanation. Such double dimension is always present when considering regulatory patterns in biological systems. Bo...
Chapter
Cancer is a very interesting case study because it is a process deeply connected with the relational principles that not only structure, but also maintain, the functional and structural organization of living systems in time and hold our capability of grasping them through scientific practice. Building upon the deeper implications of systemic appro...
Chapter
Systemic approaches have gained a prominent role in cancer research, enhancing the possibility of dealing with complex molecular networks and even expanding the focus of research to higher levels of organization above the cell. In this chapter I review some major examples: network models of the cell, with their landscapes of functional states and s...
Article
Full-text available
Resumen Biodiversity is commonly acknowledged as a universal value in different disciplines. It indicates the heterogeneity of properties that characterizes the biological world. Despite its common use, however, a critical analysis of the philosophical literature shows a difficulty in its conceptualization given by an apparent dichotomy between th...
Article
Robustness, the property by which living systems maintain a function despite external and internal perturbations , is currently one of the most powerful cross-disciplinary concepts relating both biological and artificial systems on the basis of their common design principles. In this paper we argue that robustness can be also considered an emergent...
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity is commonly acknowledged as a universal value in different disciplines. It indicates the heterogeneity of properties that characterizes the biological world. Despite its common use, however, a critical analysis of the philosophical literature shows a difficulty in its conceptualization given an apparent dichotomy between the normative...
Book
Full-text available
http://www.springer.com/it/book/9789402408638?wt_mc=Internal.Event.1.SEM.BookAuthorCongrat
Article
Full-text available
Biodiversity is commonly acknowledged as a universal value in different disciplines. It indicates the heterogeneity of properties that characterizes the biological world. Despite its common use, however, a critical analysis of the philosophical literature shows a difficulty in its conceptualization given an apparent dichotomy between the normative...
Book
Since the 1970s, the origin of cancer is being explored from the point of view of the Somatic Mutation Theory (SMT), focusing on genetic mutations and clonal expansion of somatic cells. As cancer research expanded in several directions, the dominant focus on cells remained steady, but the classes of genes and the kinds of extra-genetic factors that...
Article
Full-text available
In his research activity, Emilio Del Giudice explored the possibility to move towards a unified view of some long-range dynamics in nature, ranging from quantum field theory in physics up to biology. Such a view is adopted in this contribution by discussing a mathematical model for synchronized electrical behavior of pancreatic beta cells. The stoc...
Book
Focusing on cell dynamics, molecular medicine and robotics, contributors explore the interplay between biological, technological and theoretical ways of thinking. The collection makes a strong contribution to current debates in the philosophy of science and the changing role of scientific practice. © Taylor & Francis 2015.
Article
Full-text available
Moving from the Interview of Pollack we acknowledge that the core issue of contemporary educational challenges is twofold. On one hand there is the intrinsic complexity of the human being and its environment. On the other hand the emerging complexity of the world we are interested in knowing and on which the majority part of training programs are f...
Chapter
Full-text available
La filosofía de la biología se presenta como una disciplina que se ramificó desde la filosofía de la ciencia, y sin ser de fácil definición por su amplio espectro de intereses, suele explicarse clasificando los distintos tópicos que aborda. Una de las cuestiones centrales tematizada por esta disciplina se pregunta sobre qué caracteriza a los sistem...
Article
There is a tendency in scientific practice to elaborate complex and multilevel models to account for biological dynamics. Systemic approaches have been advocated to account for such phenomenology, so that models often emerge as networks of dynamic interactions with elements that acquire a specific explanatory relevance depending on the scientific q...
Article
Full-text available
Different accounts have been given in order to face the problem of the emergence of musical consonance and dissonance. Getting a more adequate comprehension of such phenomenology may require a systemic view to integrate such multidimensionality into a unitary picture in which every partial solution enlightens a particular aspect of the very same pr...
Article
Beta cells in pancreas represent an example of coupled biological oscillators which via communication pathways, are able to synchronize their electrical activity, giving rise to pulsatile insulin release. In this work we numerically analyze scale free self-similarity features of membrane voltage signal power density spectrum, through a stochastic d...
Article
Full-text available
The present work aims to demonstrate some reasons of the explanatory model shift in science, to overcome the limits of reductionism, which does no longer allow a correct understanding of the phenomena it refers to. We will take as example a current debate in medicine, wether it is more adequate to understand cancer in terms of genes or tissue prope...
Article
Full-text available
This work deals with the particular nature of network-based approach in biology. We will comment about the shift from the consideration of the molecular layer as the definitive place where causative process start to the elucidation of the among elements (at any level of biological organization they are located) interaction network as the main goal...
Chapter
The approach advocated in Systems Biology has been defined as a system-level understanding of biological phenomena. The notion of ‘mesosystem’ seems to meet this explanatory requirement. However, its epistemological presuppositions have not been clarified yet. In this paper we analyse how the notion of mesoscopic level enters the explanatory accoun...
Article
Full-text available
In Philosophy of Biology a definition of what should be considered nature - as opposed to nurture - has remained an elusive issue. In order to clarify some reasons of this, I adopt in this paper the following strategy. Instead of performing a conceptual analysis of the term of nature in biological sciences, I explore two related epistemological iss...
Article
Cancer has been always perceived as a complex disease. Such complexity is clearly related with the multiplicity of causal factors that are linked with its origin and progression and with the multi-level phenomenology of the neoplastic process itself. At the same time, an agreement on the relevance of contextual factor is commonplace in literature a...
Article
The aim of this paper is to assess the relevance of functional ascriptions used to explain cancer. I do that in two steps. In the first part of the paper I briefly analyse different functional accounts in the philosophical literature and I explore the extent to which cellular models of cancer meet traditional accounts. I argue that these models req...
Article
Full-text available
In the last decades there has been a growing interest towards the concept of “Quality of Life” (QoL), not only in the bio-medical field, but also in other areas, such as sociology, psychology, economics, philosophy, architecture, journalism, politics, environment, sports, recreation, advertisements. Nevertheless QoL does turn out to be an ambiguous...
Article
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In this contribution I analyze how the notion of uncertainty characteristic of biological complexity contributes to the emergence of the systemic perspectives of contemporary biology and the way in which these perspectives are linked to biological determinism. I highlight characteristics acquired by the notions of causality and biological informati...
Article
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Understanding biological behaviours implies explaining the organization of living beings. Cancer compromises the normal structure and function of tissues, cells, and genes so that it appears as a multilevel phenomenon. The biology of cancer is thus giving us interesting insights on the organization of a biological system and its hierarchical phenom...
Article
Full-text available
This essay shows how it's possible to focus on an aspect of reductionism from a methodological point of view that is compatible, at least in principle, with a systemic perspective. The irst part of this paper deals with the epistemological assumptions of interpretive models of cancer. Interestingly, they appear to be opposite each other, since they...
Article
Full-text available
This essay shows how it's possible to focus on an aspect of reductionism from a methodological point of view that is compatible, at least in principle, with a systemic perspective. The first part of this paper deals with the epistemological assumptions of interpretive models of cancer. Interestingly, they appear to be opposite each other, since the...
Article
Full-text available
The term Quality of Life (QoL) has been increasingly used in medical and philosophical literatures for the past four decades. The purpose of this article is to analyze how QoL is being used in medicine and in philosophy to understand its current status. In the 1960s and 1970s new technologies raised new questions for clinicians, so they used QoL as...
Article
In the last decades, genomic and postgenomic technologies obtained a great amount of information on molecular bases of cell physiology and organization. In spite of this, the knowledge of cells and living organisms in their entirety, is far from being achieved. In order to deal with biological complexity, Systems Biology uses a new approach to over...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this paper is to present a critical analysis of the kind of biological systems identified in the main explanatory theories of cancer (i.e. Somatic Mutation Theory and Tissue Organization Field Theory) and how references to the hierarchical organization of these biological systems are used in their explanatory arguments. I will discuss th...

Projects

Projects (4)
Project
See the website https://saluteuropa.org/category/uomo-e-tecnologia/
Project
I'm working on a new Springer series that is entitled "Human Perspectives in Bio-Medical Sciences and Technology”, and that publishes volumes that delve into the coevolution between technology, life sciences, and medicine. I am already actively looking for interesting scholars, groups and projects that I think would nicely fit into the aims and scope of the series.
Project
Bio-Techno-Practice (BTP) Research Empowering HUB: see the website www.biotechnopractice.org