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ICTP Connections: Cuba

Documentary showcases medical physics associate in Cuba

11/06/2020 - Trieste

Ictpconn Cuba QuoteDuring its more than 50-year history, ICTP has built strong connections with thousands of scientists, especially those in disadvantaged countries. In order to capture its far-reaching impact throughout the developing world, ICTP commissioned Trieste filmmaker Nicole Leghissa to make a documentary about these connections.

Leghissa spent two months in 2014 travelling around the world to explore how the lives of scientists have been positively impacted by ICTP, and how they in turn are using their experiences to build scientific capacity in their home countries. The resulting documentary, "From Theory to Reality", highlights the success stories of six scientists in six countries.

We are revisiting these stories because they are a reminder that ICTP's impact on scientific research in the developing world remains as relevant as ever.


Even during the uncertainty of the current global pandemic, ICTP is working hard to help scientists around the world to feel less isolated and go on with their research with access to free resources and online seminars. These ICTP success stories can inspire researchers and scientists and alleviate isolation during these difficult times.

We have created separate features for each of the six scientists who appear in the documentary. Here, we highlight Marlen Pérez-Díaz, full professor of biomedical engineering at Universidad central “Marta Abreu” de Las Villas in Santa Clara, Cuba. In the video, she recalls the first time she visited ICTP in 1999 to participate in a medical physics college while she was a PhD student. After that first visit, she returned to ICTP several times to attend seminars and workshops and she has been an ICTP associate for many years.

Pérez-Díaz works in the field of image analysis and image processing. Thanks to the support of ICTP, has set up a research group in the field of medical physics at Central University of Las Villas.

Science research in Cuba often relies on the help of foreigner institutions like ICTP. In the video is also featured theoretical physicist Alejandro Cabo, senior researcher at the Instituto de Cibernética, Matemática y Física (ICIMAF) in La Habana, Cuba. He spent a few years at ICTP as a regular associate and this allowed him to do research, develop lines of work and establish international collaborations and exchanges that than led him to become a pillar in his country’s community of physicists and to gain important recognitions such as the award of the Cuban Academy of Sciences.