Bellinzona presents the house of "science that helps"
Institutional Communication Service
On Saturday, 27 November 2021, the new Centre for biomedical research in Bellinzona was officially inaugurated, a building that is the new home for the Institute of Research in Biomedicine (IRB) and the Institute of Oncology Research (IOR) - both affiliated to USI through its Faculty of Biomedical Sciences - and the translational research laboratories of the Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale (EOC). The structure, supported by the City of Bellinzona, the Canton of Ticino, the Swiss Confederation and the Helmut Horten Foundation, will allow the Institutes to conduct their research activities in modern laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art scientific equipment. Moreover, the further proximity of the various laboratories lays the foundation for the establishment, in Southern Switzerland, of a proper research centre recognised on a national and international level.
"It is a great day for the Canton Ticino, for the City of Bellinzona, for Università della Svizzera italiana to which we are affiliated, and for all those who believe and have faith in a region that is open to the world and looks towards the future and progress". With these words the President of the Foundation for the IRB, Gabriele Gendotti, concluded his keynote speech at the ceremony attended by over 200 participants, including representatives of institutions, political authorities, the academic and scientific world, and citizens. Mr. Gendotti was succeeded by Prof. Franco Cavalli, President of the Foundation for the IOR, saying: "We have achieved this result. But it is not yet time to stop. We must look ahead with confidence, towards in the future".
The ceremony continued with a few institutional speeches, starting with the Mayor of Bellinzona, Mario Branda, who emphasised how much the City has believed in the two institutes since their foundation, supporting their development both financially and with the provision of facilities and spaces. The vice-president of the State Council of Canton Graubünden, Markus Caduff, then emphasised the positioning of Bellinzona as a place where scientific research is conducted at an international level, a fact also noted by the national media in our country, as evidenced by a radio report of SRF 1 broadcast on the morning of the ceremony (see Quicklinks to listen to the podcast, in German). Nicole Schaad, Head of National Research at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, spoke on behalf of the federal authorities, recalling the support of the federal government to the Bellinzona institutes as "research centers of national importance", with funding - including a direct contribution for the construction of the new building - integrated with public and private funds. For the SERI, said Schaad, it is important that the institutes continue to grow "the network of national and international collaborations to carry out cutting-edge research that transfers to the entire field of life sciences". Finally, Nicole Shaad underscored the important role that IRB and IOR play in terms of training, with more than a hundred young PhD and post-doctoral researchers who find in Bellinzona attractive working conditions to carry out high-level scientific research.
"If we continue on this path, we will soon achieve outstanding results. We have the opportunity to build a new Ticino, and USI will do its part to achieve this goal". These are a few of the words expressed by Prof. Giovanni Pedrazzini, Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at USI, who was followed by Detlef Günther, Vice President of Research at ETH Zurich, who said that "in the field of oncology, we particularly see great potential in the collection of biospecimens, biobanking and data acquisition".
After a moment of gratitude expressed to the private institutions and benefactors who over the years have made generous donations to the two institutes, above all the Helmut Horten Foundation and Mrs. Flora Gruner, whose representatives were presented with a gift consisting of a crystal from the Bedretto Valley, the three institute directors took the stage. First, Prof. Andrea De Gottardi, Full professor of the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences and director of the EOC Translational Research Laboratories, explained the importance of translational research as a 'bridge' between the needs of clinical patients in the hospital and the basic research in the laboratory. Then, Dr. Carlo Catapano, director of the IOR, spoke about the elements that define the work done at the institute, such as the multidisciplinary approach, the involvement of basic and clinical researchers, and the wide collaborations at regional, national and international level, underscoring how in the new facility shared with IRB it will be possible to continue to work together in emerging areas of biomedical research such as immunoncology. Finally, IRB Director Davide Robbiani addressed the audience talking about what it means to be a scientist, which is to make progress and share knowledge. In the case of the IRB, this means understanding the mechanisms that regulate the human immune system - a job that at the IRB, as at the IOR, is carried out with passion and driven by curiosity. "We do so-called fundamental research, but often on issues that concern the patient. So, not only a science to understand, but also a 'science to help'."