Italy Honors Camillo Ricordi, M.D., During Historic Celebration

Italy is celebrating its 150th year marking Il Risorgimento, or the Resurgence— the period in which city-states and regions ruled by religious or monarchical leaders united to form one nation— with a year-long festival of sporting and cultural events, parades, fairs and exhibits, including one prominently featuring the Miller School’s own Camillo Ricordi, M.D.

Ricordi, director of the University of Miami Diabetes Research Institute and Cell Transplant Center, is considered one of the world’s leading scientists in cell transplantation and is featured in a “Best of Italy” 3D holographic display of cutting-edge innovators who are shaping the future in such areas as chemistry, environment, communications, work and health.

A member of one of Italy’s most distinguished musical families, Ricordi was selected to represent the field of health/research, for his pioneering work in diabetes and his endeavors to develop research across borders. His hologram is part of the Stazione Futuro, or Future Station, an exhibit on display in the restored Officine Grande Riparazione in Turin, Italy.

“I am proud of the recognition,” said Ricordi, the Stacy Joy Goodman Professor of Surgery, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Microbiology and Immunology, who joined Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and other dignitaries for the March 17 opening gala. “This celebration marks an important milestone for Italy and I am honored to have been selected among a group of people who are being recognized as visionaries.”

Ricordi is well known for developing the automated method for isolating large numbers of pancreatic islet cells. The procedure is now used by laboratories worldwide performing clinical islet transplants in patients with type 1 diabetes. The recognition also lauded Ricordi for his critical role in developing the telescience platform technology that now allows scientists in the global DRI Federation and Cure Focus Research Alliance to collaborate across geographic boundaries, enabling international teams to work as if they are in the same physical space.

Though born in New York City, Ricordi grew up in Milan, Italy, where he completed high school, graduate and post-graduate studies with the highest scores and honors. He is a seventh-generation descendant of Giovanni Ricordi, who founded Casa Ricordi, Italy’s premier music publishing house, in 1808. It counts Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Verdi, and Puccini in its musical repertoire. Doubling Dr. Ricordi’s elation, Casa Ricordi was also recognized as “the Resurgence’s soundtrack” (la colonna sonora del Risorgimento).

The unification celebration also marked the second time Italy has recognized Ricordi’s achievements. In 2009, he was knighted in the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic), the highest recognition conferred by Italy’s president for accomplishments in science, literature, arts, or other fields.

Stazione Futuro is on display in Turin through November 20.

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