I was extremely impressed with the quality of research and innovation found in institutes, universities, schools, foundations and companies that I visited. The Region of Tuscany already has top internationally recognized life science researchers and is clearly committed to becoming a magnet for attracting both top research talent and external investment to fund innovation in both public and private enterprises”.
That was what Dr Christopher J. Paige, vice president of Canadian University Health Network (www.uhn.ca), had to say at the end of a three-day visit to some of Tuscany’s companies and research centres in the fields of life sciences and biomedical research.

Together with Toscana Promozione staff, who had previously met him on a recent mission to Canada with a delegation of Tuscan companies and research centre, Dr Paige had the opportunity to visit some of our region’s centres of excellence, starting from the “Toscana Life Sciences” Foundation and the related Technology Park based in Siena, a cutting-edge outpost in the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical devices which makes Tuscany one of Italy’s top regions in terms of research results in the sector. In Siena Dr Paige also visited the bio-business incubator which is home to the “Torre Fiorentina” Science Park and Siena Biotech, a group already active in research in the pharmaceutical field.

Half a day was dedicated to the “Istituto Toscano Tumori” (Tuscan Cancer Institute) in Florence, which is active in prevention, research and support for oncology where Dr Paige held a research seminar entitled “IL-12 conducts an anti-cancer cellular quartet, reflections from mouse and man”.

He also paid a visit to one of Italy’s outstanding research universities: the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa, where the Canadian professor met the school’s director, Professor Pierdomenico Perata. The visit continued at the Medical Sciences Laboratory and the Institute of Clinical Physiology based at the Pisa departments of the CNR (National Research Council) before moving on to EndoCAS, the Center for Computer Assisted Surgery – an innovative example of research and technology transfer to improve current surgical procedures – and the Bio-Robotics Labs located at the Polo Sant’Anna-Valdera, specializing in biomedical engineering, precision engineering, robotics and mechatronics.

At the Polo Sant’Anna-Valdera Dr Paige attended two presentations by Tuscan companies: Linari Engineering, concerning Nanofiber Technology, and ERA Endoscopy concerning its Robotic colonoscope.

The last port of call in Pisa was the Stella Maris Foundation, on the leading edge in assistance, recovery and research activities concerning deviant development and childhood and adolescent disabilities.

The last stages of Dr Paige’s brief fact-finding tour took him to Florence: after a de-briefing meeting with Toscana Promozione, Dr Paige visited the cross-disciplinary research center LENS, the European Non-Linear Spectroscopy Lab in Sesto Fiorentino, as well as two local companies, Elesta and El.En, which work on innovative integrations of ultrasound imaging systems and photonics.