An investment of 170 million euros, between research funding and scientific dissemination projects, and almost 2,200 researchers supported in 176 institutes and universities in Italy and abroad. It is the balance of the first 20 years of the Umberto Veronesi Foundation, which celebrates 2 decades of life looking to the future: “What we have become today is only a root of what we will be tomorrow”, is the promise made in a video made for the ‘anniversary. A milestone celebrated today in the Aula Magna of the State University of Milan, with the delivery ceremony of the 2023 scholarships to 160 doctors and researchers, and of the sixth ‘Umberto Veronesi Foundation Award’ to the 3 best 2022 publications signed by scientists supported by the institution . The day was opened by a message from the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella.
Mattarella: “Promoting research for a more equitable and sustainable future’ – “Scientific research, with the pandemic crisis of recent years – writes the head of state – has confirmed its essential role in creating a more equitable and sustainable future in every sector of our life. Promoting its centrality and investing in young people with talent and ideas, providing them with the means to express innovative projects, appears fundamental”. Mattarella greeted the participants in the ceremony “aimed at projects of a high scientific level, aimed at quickly transferring the results laboratory to clinical practice”, wishing the Veronesi Foundation “to continue to provide its contribution to scientific progress and to young researchers rewarded with every professional satisfaction. The entire community will benefit from your successes.”
Of the 160 scholarships this year, 141 are intended for post-doctoral researchers (71.6% women, 12% foreigners, average age 35.7 years) active in the fields of oncology (121) and nutrigenomics and prevention of diseases (20), while 19 are training and specialization scholarships. In addition to these grants – underline the Foundation – there is also support for the European School of Molecular Medicine (Semm) which welcomes 173 doctoral students, and the funding of 16 research projects, 2 international projects, 4 treatment protocols in pediatric oncology and 2 international platforms of research and care. In 2023 there are 52 research institutes and universities where supported researchers work, in 32 Italian cities: Ancona, Bologna, Brescia, Cagliari, Camerino (Macerata), Candiolo (Turin), Catania, Catanzaro, Chieti, Ferrara, Florence, Genoa, L’Aquila, Milan, Modena, Monza, Naples, Novara, Orbassano (Turin), Padua, Palermo, Pavia, Perugia, Pisa, Pozzilli (Isernia), Rome, Salerno, Siena, Rozzano (Milan), Turin, Trieste and Verona.
In detail, since 2003 the Veronesi Foundation has financed 2,193 scientists, 147 research projects, 12 treatment protocols in the field of pediatric oncology and the 2 international platforms Progetto Umberto, to explore the relationship between nutrition and cancer, and the Palm Research Project, to develop innovative therapies against pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. In the last 13 years alone, between 2009 and 2022, researchers supported by the Veronesi Foundation have produced 2,264 publications in peer-reviewed international scientific journals, and of these 1,828 are original articles, for a normalized average Impact Factor of 8.99.
Paolo Veronesi: “More than a goal, a starting point” – “Supporting scientific research is a constant and collective commitment – says Paolo Veronesi, president of the Foundation named after his father and a breast specialist like him – which aims to give concrete contribution to improve the lives of thousands of sick people.Precisely for this reason the Foundation, which carries excellent research in the field of oncology in its DNA, continues to maintain its founder’s mission by funding the best researchers and high-profile projects characterized by the ability to quickly transfer results from the laboratory to clinical practice on patients. Our 20 years, more than a goal, represent a starting point for new projects with very concrete objectives”. Ultimate goal: “To guarantee new hopes of treatment for today’s and tomorrow’s patients”.
“The evaluation process for the allocation of funding by the Foundation is quite rigorous – underlines Chiara Tonelli, president of the scientific committee of the institution – also and above all because the quality of the applications is always very high. Each application is evaluated according to standard concerning the researcher’s curriculum vitae, the proposed project, experiences abroad and publications in peer-reviewed international scientific journals.Highly innovative projects that contain high transactional potential are also awarded, in order to find increasingly effective treatments.
The criteria underlying the assignment of the Fondazione Veronesi’s annual Award are also rigorous, including the Impact Factor of the scientific journal in which the awardees’ works have been published and the translational potential of the research described. The 2023 winners, all for projects in the oncological area, are Tommaso Colangelo for a study conducted at the ‘Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza’ – Irccs hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo (Foggia); Maria Grazia Filippone for a research carried out at the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) in Milan; Francesco Antonica for a work carried out at the Cibio Department (Cellular, Computational and Integrative Biology) of the University of Trento.
During the ceremony, Franco Locatelli, president of the Higher Health Council, director of the Department of Onco-Hematology and Cell and Gene Therapy of the Irccs Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome and full professor at the Capitoline Catholic University, curated a space on the importance of research and on the scientific curiosity that must animate the activity of researchers. A scenario on the new frontiers of oncological research was outlined by Pier Giuseppe Pelicci, full professor of Pathology at the University of Milan, head of IEO Research and director of the IEO Department of Experimental Oncology.
A ‘V’ for the new logo – Fondazione Veronesi looks ahead and symbolizes this drive towards the future by inaugurating a new logo: a letter ‘V’ which “is inspired by the strength of the ideas of the founder” Umberto Veronesi and “embodies the centrality of the struggle to tumors for the benefit of today’s and tomorrow’s patients”, remarks the institution. “New signature – says the Foundation – same commitment for cancer”.
Podcast ‘Il Prof’ tells Umberto Veronesi – “I will not see a world without cancer, but whoever will come after me will. This is the task of scientific research”. Umberto Veronesi often repeated it, a ‘testament sentence’ chosen by the Foundation named after him, at the end of the video dedicated to his first 20 years. To celebrate the anniversary and the figure of the founding oncologist, who died in 2016, the Umberto Veronesi Foundation is launching the podcast ‘Il Prof’. “An exciting journey in 10 episodes through the life of a great doctor and man of science who was able to revolutionize the perception and treatment of cancer, always putting the patient at the center and not his disease”, explains the institution announcing the release of the podcast during the award ceremony of the 2023 scholarships and the sixth ‘Fondazione Umberto Veronesi Award’.
Available on all major listening platforms, such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Amazon Music and Audible, the first Fondazione Veronesi podcast is “a narrative arc enriched by the voices of scientists and authoritative experts who have known the Prof personally and report his amazing story”. Clacson.Media oversaw the production of the podcast, written by Alessandro Casale, thanks to the supervision and archival materials of the Umberto Veronesi Foundation.