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Marino Zerial appointed as new Human Technopole Director

The Supervisory Board of the Human Technopole Foundation has appointed Marino Zerial as the institute’s new Director.

Currently Director of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, a research institution he helped found over 25 years ago, Marino Zerial is also an honorary professor at the Faculty of Medicine of the Technische Universität in Dresden. His professional career, which began with a degree in Biology from the University of Trieste (1982), took place entirely abroad with post-doctoral experiences at the Institut Jacques Monod in Paris and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, where he started his own research group in 1989. 

Throughout his brilliant career, he has been involved in the study of liver diseases and made a fundamental contribution to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of intracellular trafficking, in particular the processes that allow cells to internalise molecules, such as nutrients and signalling substances, known as endocytosis. Professor Zerial’s work has been recognised by numerous international research awards including the FEBS Anniversary Prize (1994), the Chiara D’Onofrio Prize (1999), the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize (2006) and the Fritz Lipmann Honorary Lecture, a prize of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2019). He was elected EMBO Member in 1996 and Member of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in 2019. In addition, in 2021 he was elected an International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Italian by birth and German by adoption, Marino Zerial is the second Director of Human Technopole, succeeding Professor Iain Mattaj who led the first phase of the institute’s development from January 2019 to date.

On behalf of the Human Technopole community I would like to wholeheartedly thank Professor Iain Mattaj for his work during the very first years of the Foundation’s construction and development. Scientific excellence, internationalisation and entrepreneurship have been the hallmarks of his tenure, during which Human Technopole has completed the construction of its first laboratory spaces, launched its research activities and reached a staff of over 350 researchers and administrative and support personnel from 30 different countries. Today, we are happy to welcome Professor Marino Zerial, a leading international scientist that returns to Italy after a career spent entirely abroad in top research institutes. Thanks to his invaluable experience Professor Zerial will have the task of tackling the next challenges and taking Human Technopole from a start-up status to a scale-up phase. Among the upcoming initiatives, the launching of the strategic National Platforms on biomedical research will for sure benefit from his outstanding experience” said President Gianmario Verona.

Marino Zerial was unanimously appointed by the Foundation’s Supervisory Board after a competitive procedure managed by a Search Committee composed of international experts. According to the HT Foundation’s Statute, the Director is chosen among internationally renowned scientists, with a prestigious academic record and proven capacity to lead large-scale multidisciplinary scientific infrastructures.

“I am honoured and delighted for the nomination to Human Technopole Foundation Director and wish to thank President Gianmario Verona as well as the members of the Search Committee and the Supervisory Board for the trust and enthusiasm they communicated to me. Armed with its dual mission of excellence in scientific research and shared technology platforms, Human Technopole has a unique potential to catalyse Italian biomedical science. To this end, it will be important to promote interdisciplinary research through collaborations with groups with expertise in biochemistry, biophysics, computational science, but also theoretical biology (mathematical biology) and engineering. I will devote my efforts and my experience to lead the Human Technopole staff to realise its ambitious mission. I am grateful to the Max Planck Society for supporting me in this new endeavour” commented Professor Marino Zerial.

Photo credits: Katrin Boes / MPI-CBG


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