13/06/2022 News: In Memory of Professor Matteo
‘‘You should work with Matteo.” Prof. Lamberto Maffei changed my professional and personal life forever with these words. It was 2003, and after being recruited as a research scientist at the CNR Neuroscience Institute in Pisa (Italy) at the end of 2001, I struggled to find my path. I followed Lamberto’s suggestion, which came outt o be the real break through in my career and life.
Matteo and I followed parallel careers. We have known each other since our university years in Pisa. After our degree in Biology, we completed our Ph.D. in Neurobiology at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa,under the supervision of Prof. Lamberto Maffei. Duringour Ph.D., we both published our first paper in Neuroscience (remarkably, his was a single-author paper). After our postdocs, we became research scientists at the CNR Neuroscience Institute in 2001. In 2003, we were good friends and respected each other, but we had never worked together. Matteo suggested studying together whether botulinum neurotoxin could stop epileptic seizures and whether it could interfere with long-term epilepto genesis. It was a crazy, exciting project. I brought in my experience on in vivo models o fepilepsy, while Matteo contributed with his fine skills as in vivo electrophysiologist. We complemented each other, and in a highly competitive, aggressive, and individualistic environment, we survived day by day by enjoying making science together. We wrote papers and grant applications using one desk and four hands. We never discussed our respective position in the authors’list of the articles we published, and we always shared the money from the grants either one of us was a warded. After five years of continuous and enjoyable collaboration, we were able to show that botulinum toxin had anti-convulsant effects but not an anti-epileptogenicone. Indeed, our original hypothesis was crazy, but we had so much fun exploring it!
After I moved to the University of Trento in 2009,Matteo and I continued in our parallel careers, obtaininga professorship in physiology between 2017 and 2018. We kept collaborating on different projects, ranging fromvisual plasticity in mouse models of autism to the role ofCCL2 chemokine in epilepsy. In almost twenty years ofsolid cooperation, we published 20 papers together.
Matteo was a gentle but resolute leader and aformidable mentor for his students and young collaborators. Working with him, I learned another way of doing science, enjoying every day in the lab, far from the overw helming competitiveness of our field. ‘‘Persons before all”, he used to say, meaning that respect for everybody was an unquestionable prerequisite for doing our job and living one’s life. His vivid intelligence, curiosity, and profound sense of integrity made him a great scientist. His smile and kindness made him a great friend. I will never forget the walks on the beach with our families and the football matches with our colleagues (he was a great central defender, too). Matteo leaves his beloved wife Laura Gianfranceschi and sons Marco andPietro, to whom I dedicate this brief memory. I will miss you forever, my dear friend.