The Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine
The Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine was inaugurated at the end of 2000. In these years it gradually grew to its present size of over 150 full-time researchers. The institute was founded to collect under the same roof researchers who had been working successfully in Padova in the area of Molecular Medicine. The goal was to generate the critical mass necessary to make the new institute competitive at the highest level. A very important aspect was the support of the private Foundation of Advanced Biomedical Research, which allows greater flexibility in the use of resources than is usually permitted within universities and other public research institutions in Italy. It was also hoped that the new institute would attract brilliant young investigators from outside the Padova area. Happily, this has indeed happened.
The limited size of the new institute would have made it impossible to cover the entire area of Molecular Medicine. A choice of topics had thus to be made. It was decided to capitalize on some of the islands of high-level expertise existing in Padova and surrounding areas to orient the research of the new institute to the general theme of cellular signalling in various systems, from neurons to cancer cells. This was to be studied with tools as diverse as cell biology and biochemistry, biophysics and immunology. The different aspects of the fields presently covered in the institute should emerge from the presentations of the various research teams that can be found in the pages that follow.
Let me add that the Venetian Institute of Molecular Medicine is trying to accomplish something which is relatively rare in the Italian research panorama: the integration of public and private institutions to support biomedical research. The enthusiasm and dedication of the staff, allied to its competence, has enabled the institute to become, within a short time, a reference point and an example to follow.
What was a dream only a few years ago is now a reality: an institute full of enthusiastic young investigators who have access to cutting-edge instrumentation within a lively collaborative atmosphere.
The VIMM appears on the right track to fulfil its main goals. On the one hand, to bring together basic scientists and clinicians to pursue integrated projects on important human pathologies. On the other, to offer young investigators the chance to develop their scientific independence. As can be seen in the scientific reports that follow, a number of the PIs – who were only promising post docs at the time they were recruited by VIMM – are now internationally renowned scientists and recognized leaders in their fields. Some of them have been recruited as Full Professors by prestigious Institutions abroad (Yale, Geneva, Glasgow to cite a few), while others are working in other Universities of Italy or still at the VIMM, leading their own independent groups. Their scientific and academic success is also ours, testifying the quality of the recruitment process in our Institute and we hope that the younger investigators presently working at the VIMM will follow their example in the near future. The success of the VIMM also depends on the generous financial support by a number of funding agencies and private donors. Without their help none of the achievements described in this book would have been possible.