Stem cell biology is an extremely exciting field of research, well suited to the extraordinary development of knowledge of the entire second half of the 20th century that has been called the "bioscience revolution", one of the main engines of social and economic progress in the advanced countries. This revolution owes a good deal to the pioneering work of Camillo Golgi on the cell structure of the nervous system. Golgi's discoveries, made in Pavia where he lived, earned him the Nobel Prize in 1906, and were the starting point for later research on the minute composition and functional architecture of the cell. From that work came a number of conceptual paradigms that are still used by the scientific community to develop new research projects and clinical applications. Stem cells are the ideal biological material for the regeneration of damaged tissues and organs and have been suggested as a potential therapeutic option in the treatment of diseases caused by altered cell function, or to repair lesions caused by cell destruction. The availability of cells capable of replacing those that have been lost would make it possible to intervene directly at the site of the lesion and restore the functions of the injured organ so as to improve the quality of life of the patient. Stem cells from adult organisms have already secured important results in clinical practice for the treatment of haematological diseases, burns, degeneration of the cornea and retina. Currently, clinical applications are in progress to treat diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease, necrosis following myocardial infarct, muscular and bone defects, and in the organ transplant field. Many other experimental studies are under way on animal models. All this scientific activity promises to provide new clinical insights of enormous interest within few years. To abbreviate the time between the experimental and the practical application stages, it is essential to provide incentives for the development of new protocols for the differentiation of stem cells into the types of tissues desired and for the production of a sufficient number of cells. In the proponents’ opinion, the Meeting “New insights and perspectives in stem cell research” will celebrate Golgi’s fundamental contribution to the scientific tradition of Pavia by illustrating the high points and problems of one of the most advanced and controversial subjects of cellular investigation. Lectures and sessions are devoted not only to the recent results obtained using embryo cells, but also to a critical analysis of the effects of the first clinical applications. This Meeting is a wonderful opportunity to assess the state of the art, share experiences and results and contact most of the world's experts directly, in view of more effective national and international collaboration.
Mario Viganò, Carlo Alberto Redi, Paolo Dionigi Co-Presidents of the Meeting