Italian virologist-turned-politician Ilaria Capua has thrown in the towel. After 3 years in politics, she is leaving Italy and going back to science, frustrated by what she says is an antiscientific attitude among fellow politicians. Capua, an expert on avian influenza, will become director of the One Health Center of Excellence for Research and Training at the University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville on 20 June.
In 2013, Capua took a leave of absence as director of the Division of Biomedical Science of the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie in Padua, Italy, a government lab for veterinary research, after being elected a member of the Chamber of Deputies for Scelta Civica, a party led by economist and then–Prime Minister Mario Monti. Capua has been under criminal investigation since 2005, resulting in a formal accusation in 2014 that she sold and trafficked in avian flu viruses between 1999 and 2008. She says the charges are baseless but that they have made her a “lame duck” in Parliament.
Capua entered politics at Monti's invitation; he wanted candidates with technical expertise to join his new reformist party. But her experience since then has been “surreal,” she says. In a book published in January, Capua observed the bombastic behavior of her colleagues and the overly formal procedures in Montecitorio, the seat of the Chamber of Deputies, much like a scientist studying an unknown insect. “Politics is a complicated world, especially if you think in a rational and fact-related fashion. I often feel dismayed,” she says.