Fondazione Terzo Pilastro is now backing medical research and has joined Fondazione Biogem (biology and molecular genetics), established by important universities and research centres such as the University of Naples Federico II, the Bicocca University of Milan, the University of Sannio, the Stazione Zoologica ‘Anton Dohrn’ in Naples and the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council). The Biogem’s research centre, built on an area of 35.000 square meters in Ariano Irpinio in the province of Avellino, was opened in 2006 with a ceremony attended by the Nobel laureate Rita Levi Montalcini.
Biogem recently registered an international patent for a promising molecule to cure Mesothelioma and the encouraging results have aroused the interest of many pharmaceutical companies. A scientific partnership has been formed with Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a major teaching hospital of the Harvard Medical School, whilst agreements have been reached with the Scuola Normale Superiore and Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa and the University of Sannio for a master’s degree course in Quantitative and Computational Biology for students from all over the world to be held in Biogem’s centre.
The Chairman of Biogem, Ortensio Zecchino, illustrated the results at the opening of the ninth annual meeting Le Due Culture, held on the 7th of September in Ariano, which was focused on “Food: health, culture, pleasure and torment”. Scientists, philosophers, clerics, intellectuals, jurists and artists convened to examine the issue from various points of view. Having mentioned that, “Biogen is gaining credibility as a research centre, university and disseminator of knowledge and that, although it is located in Sothern Italy and unlike other institutions its funds are unstable, it has managed to increasingly stand out amid many national giants” Zecchino stated that, “pharmaceutical drugs are being replaced with nutraceuticals, which are carefully studied at Biogem”.
Professor Vincenzo Di Marzo from the CNR’s Institute of Biomolecular Chemistry discussed Microbiota (microorganisms that compose most of the human body) at length. “Gut Microbiota is actually an organ that has evolved and has an important role. It needs to be investigated further to understand its evolution and why antibiotics are harmful”.
The 2002 Nobel laureate in Chemistry, Kurt Wüthrich, was amongst the speakers.
On the 10th of September, the last day of the meeting, the ‘Maria Antonio Gervasio’ literary prize for the best scientific publication was awarded to professor Antonio Ereditato, author of Le particelle elementari (the elementary particles) published (Il Saggiatore) in 2016/2017.
Roberta Sias and Vito Tartamella won the competitions journalists under the age of 30 for the best reports on ‘Food and the Future’ and the best reports on scientific research topics.
Finally, the President of the Republic of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, awarded his Medaglia di Rappresentanaza to Biogem for the ninth annual meeting Le Due Culture.
The theme for the next meeting will be ‘Cosmology’, meant as a topic involving man as an inhabitant of our tiny globe, hence the history of the universe, earth and life.