Innovation and tradition
Bologna, 20-23 April 2017


Innovation and tradition in Bio-Medical Science: an essential confrontation

Medicine is a “body of developing applied sciences”, according to a famous definition of the historian and epistemologist of the biomedical sciences George Canguilhem, shared by Mirko Grmek and by the most qualified philosophers of medicine of the 20th century. This idea entails that the transformation of medicine into something dealing with science started only from the second half of the 19th century. Previously, medicine was no more than a practice. This definition, however, goes beyond the usual clichés about its nature: whether it is an art – as the clinicians used to think with reference to the importance of the experience and diagnostic creativity of the single doctor – or a science, as supposed by the physiopathologists, claiming that the use of the basic sciences and experimental research was essential to discover the causes of diseases.
In the last fifty years, the history of medicine has been characterized by a collaborative confrontation between innovation and tradition. For decades this took place, almost naturally, throughout the different generations. However, recently, during our times, it has acquired strong intergenerational connotations. Innovation, driven by the continuous progress of the basic sciences and the application of these results within a clinical field, is happening increasingly quickly, thus transforming that essential confrontation into an almost conflictual relationship.
Enough to allow the diffusion of the idea, which has also developed in the medical world, that medicine has become too scientific or too technological; so much so, that medicine has lost sight of the patient as a person. In other words, it has lost its sense of humanity.
This is not true. Actually, the negative perception of this confrontation between innovation and tradition is misleading. What is happening today in medicine, thanks to scientific and technological progress, is a valorization and understanding of the best that had previously been acquired by medicine before its scientific transformation. A valorization and better understanding of tradition.
The third edition of the Festival della Scienza Medica of Bologna is dedicated to this essential confrontation between innovation and tradition. As in the previous editions, several contributions will aim to show how relevant scientific and technological progress is in establishing the values of the psychological aspects within the doctor-patient relationship, in the personalization of medical treatment, in non-authoritarian caring and in the educational role of the medical and health sector, etc.
Digging into the past, regarding the historical aspects, will not be left out, going through the more or less ancient discoveries and explanations concerning medicine and disease. The paths and events that have imposed the biomedical world to intellectually reorganize intervening strategies to help patients will be retraced, leading up to the current discoveries and innovations of today.
The theme of the third edition of the Festival della Scienza Medica is socially and culturally heart-felt and it is often subject to discussion. On one hand, pressure coming from basic research and the demand for healthcare generates specific market dynamics to constantly change and improve diagnostic technologies and medical treatment. On the other hand, we are witnessing the assertion of some traditional values, almost an attempt to protect oneself by defending them; a typical example of this is the doctor-patient relationship, which is considered as being threatened by the possible dehumanizing dimensions of technological innovation.
With the third edition of the Festival della Scienza Medica, we would like to demonstrate that there is no substantial contradiction between innovation and tradition, if the problem is analyzed from a coherent cultural perspective. This is the stimulating perspective that Bologna Medicina would like to open for public debate.

Gilberto Corbellini and Pino Donghi


Doctor-patient relationship: a path for change, between innovation and tradition

Between Innovation and Tradition is the third leg of the long journey undertaken by the Festival della Scienza Medica.
A long journey indeed, because the warm welcome we received and the great commitment by Scholars, Institutions, Companies, Teachers and Students allow us, I believe, to plan a long-term engagement.
Innovation goes fast while tradition, far from being merely outlined by time, is linked to our history: the history of mankind, of women and men who, since the dawn of civilization, and for their whole life, felt the need to believe that some people were able to work for the wellbeing of others, to ensure their health and keep them safe.
Tradition shaped the role of shamans, healers, and medicine men over many centuries. Then, at a quite faster pace, they all merged into the actual figure of the doctor. It all took place in an advanced environment where the selfless concern and the commitment on which the charisma of such figures was based within increasingly complex social groups, found its own definition, as it has been known and shared in the last few centuries, up to the latest advent of scientific medicine.
As it was highlighted by Eric Kandel in Bologna, the new biology science of mind is important not only because it gives a deeper comprehension of what makes us what we are, but also because it makes possible an important series of dialogues between brain science and other areas of knowledge.[1]
The process of development of medicine was long and discontinuous, it combined with an almost prodigious ability to gather pieces of knowledge and with the incessant evolution of its process of transformation into a proper science.
Within this framework, tradition was nevertheless respected and perhaps even enhanced, but the predominant (and I believe overwhelming) aim was to provide a meaning for the medicine of the future that may thus proceed in agreement with the medicine of today and tomorrow.
Medicine somewhat still feels like tradition. But, under many more aspects, it comes as innovation and technology and, at least in some branches, it widely conveys the need for a mutual understanding in the doctor-patient relationship. The latter is based today on the global nature of diagnoses and on the interaction between the doctor’s and the patient’s minds. Such an interaction seemed to be seen as obsolete, while now it is once again praised, almost paradoxically, as an innovative attitude.
Technological innovation makes it necessary to modify the once interpersonal relationships of the past that are now influenced by technology, which is invasive and powerful and can be transformed from a functional tool into a prevailing item.
However, the use of a tool, as complex as it may be, cannot be the final goal, either for the doctor or for the patient.
It is not only necessary to make a tool work, but it is important to heal and cure in order to achieve results denoting increased certainties, exactness, duration, naturalness, and the possibility to support the costs weighing on society as a benefit for society itself, so that it would be correct to foresee the need for an “extraordinary maintenance” for the National Health Service (Pelissero)[2].
Which major worries could be aroused by this scenario in the making? Doctors, being satisfied with the potential performance by the machines, and frequently rewarded by evident instant outcomes, might neglect the personal approach to patients taken as a whole, thus forgetting the still obvious limits to a full understanding of numerous problem issues that, despite all achievements, are far from being solved. Also, given the situation, patients might be tempted to adopt self-treatments.
At any rate, a full integration between medicine based on traditional principles and sophisticated and constantly evolving technologies would be so costly for society that unavoidable problems concerning the economic and social sustainability would arise.
The doctor-patient relationship is changing at a fast pace, as it is also a “product of the evolution of the behavioral nervous system that could be investigated through a scientific and evolutionistic approach” (Benedetti)[3].
Scientific medicine was considered at its onset and in its fast development, including many branches and many specialties of medicine. As renowned authors pointed out, the transition from shamans to modern doctors and from shamanism (based on a spiritual concept of diseases) to scientific medicine (where the anatomical-physiological outline of diseases prevail) was a centuries-old process that appears completed by now. (Benedetti)
However, the whole process was accompanied by a fragmentation of medicine that might hinder a medical activity meant for the individual as a whole, thus widening the gap between patients and doctors.
The recent developments in neurosciences could provide a sound support for improving knowledge on the behavior of patients and on the psychological and social factors affecting diseases, and would thus be extremely relevant for doctors to carry out their mission.
All this could possibly lead to a well-founded optimism, stemming from a more refined knowledge, on the part of doctors, of their own functions. A knowledge requiring a strong commitment in terms of skills as well as the adoption of behavioral modes fit to grant patients an overall situation of trust and confidence in their doctors, thus generating mutual positive results.
Today this confidence cannot just involve people. It must go hand in hand with an as trustful attitude towards the structures where doctors must work, in order to grant anyway a medical care that fully exploits the advancements of research.
Many think that the overall economic needs of a wider, albeit definitely hierarchical, Europe require a rigidity leaving no room for the flexibility and tolerance necessary to ensure the development of medicine.
The problems of public expenditure come to the fore and it becomes quite difficult to work constantly in view of a greater social justice and of the struggle against the increase in inequalities.
The development of innovation and, in spite of everything, the respect for tradition must face innumerable varieties of institutions and individuals, who cannot be denied a social response to diseases, based on hope, empathy, social trust and interpersonal doctor-patient confidence.

Fabio Roversi Monaco
President Genus Bononiae. Musei nella Città

[1] Lectio magistralis given during the Second Edition of the Festival della Scienza Medica: The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain From Vienna 1900 to the Present (Bologna, May 19th, 2016).
[2] Gabriele Pelissero, 14° Rapporto annuale ‘Ospedali & Salute 2016’.
[3] Fabrizio Benedetti, Il cervello del paziente, Giovanni Fioriti Editore, 2016.


The marvel of the human body explained through games and drawings. The magnificent Anatomical Theater, one of the jewels of Bologna, especially open for students and families. Guided tours along historical buildings and through the university life of the past. A court where high-school students will act as jurors on bioethics issues.


The 2017 guest country is Germany. Drawing on scientific research and the organization of the national health systems, a comparison between Italy and Germany, with illustrious guests, to know more about the advances achieved by a European leading country, and to look for appropriate and possibly embraceable solutions to global problems.


Music, arts, cinema, shows. Medicine meets some leading figures of history and of current events, mixing issues, testing patterns of translation, trying to boost the richness of the philosophical-medical thought as compared to other disciplines.


Three beds, three patients, the same disease but different diagnoses and treatments in different historical periods. A format in between a lecture and a theatrical performance: the audience follows the “head physicians” – just like the morning “visit to the ward” in hospitals – as they interview patients/students who in turn report on the medical record of their times. The advancements of medicine during a journey in the ward of history with old and new patients.
A closer look at the social and bio-medical events, delimited topics in an effort to define even better the boundaries of the discipline while investigating its different levels of complexity.


We are living in a new time where the boundaries between different disciplines are becoming less definite. Innovation requires medicine to deal with languages and branches of research and teaching that outline likely future developments. Aesthetics and ethics, IT and computer science, telecommunications – but also the languages of art and of movie and TV fiction.
As any other science, medicine, too, is constantly and positively evolving, and the discoveries of the past shape the supporting platform for future knowledge. The lectures on the agenda provide an overview on some recent developments of bio-medical research – but also on seemingly distant disciplines, such as IT and telecommunications – and draw the forthcoming outline of medicine and of the future relationship between doctors and patients.
Master lectures, in keeping with the tradition of the great Alma Mater clinicians and scholars and of the first modern medical school in the history of University.
A series of meetings promoted and organized by agencies, institutions, businesses, industrial organizations.

Gli ospiti di questa edizione:

Aglioti Salvatore Maria

Aringhieri Eugenio

Autiero Antonio

Bangone Gianfranco

Bassi Mariano

Benedetti Fabrizio

Benini Arnaldo

Biagi Bruno

Bolondi Luigi

Bonaretti Paolo

Bonora Enzo

Borghi Claudio

Boriani Giuseppe

Bretthauer Georg

Bucci Enrico

Burioni Roberto

Burns Peter

Cantelli Forti Giorgio

Cattaneo Elena

Cavazza Mario

Cinotti Stefano

Cocco Lucio Ildebrando Maria

Cocconi Renato

Crippa Laura

De Biasi Emilia Grazia

De Luca Michele

Del Ferraro Andrea

Delledonne Massimo

Flessa Steffen

Franceschi Claudio

Franconi Flavia

Gatti Emanuele

Giani Maurizio

Gibertoni Chiara

Grizzi Fabio

Grossi Pietro

Guerra Raniero

Hirth Thomas

Hoeft Andreas

Hoffmann Jules

Ignarro Louis

Klinkmann Horst

Landi Fabrizio

Liguori Rocco

Lindahl Tomas

Lombardi Federico

Lorenzin Beatrice

Luppi Nicoletta

Majdani Omid

Mantovani Alberto

Massarenti Armando

Massimini Marcello

Melazzini Mario

Moser Edvard

Nava Stefano

Negosanti Massimino

Nicoletti Manlio

Paterlini-Bréchot Patrizia

Patrizi Annalisa

Pelotti Susi

Peschel Andreas

Pietrini Pietro

Piccioni Pierdante

Pillon Sergio

Pinna Antonio

Pirodda Antonio

Pistoi Sergio

Plazzi Giuseppe

Popoli Patrizia

Pozzi Marco

Raffaini Mirco

Rapezzi Claudio

Regazzi Fabio

Rezza Giovanni

Scaccabarozzi Massimo

Schmitz-Rode Thomas

Schenck Carlos

Sen Amartya

Seracchioli Renato

Sesti Giorgio

Stella Andrea

Strata Piergiorgio

Taverna Gianluigi

Tidu Lorenzo

Torsello Giovanni

Undre Nas

Vico Andrea

Vienken Jörg

Welling Herbert

Zeki Semir

Zimmermann Heiko

Zucchelli Giovanni

Zygmunt Marek


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via Farini, 15


The building stands on a site where the Clarissimi family owned a house in the 13th century. A plaque in the adjacent Vicolo S. Damiano still records that a tower belonging to A. Clarissimi there once stood on the spot. It was converted into the present raised terrace in 1469. Some sources claim that Casa Saraceni must have already been built in the early 16th century, probably by Antonio Saraceni, a member of the city’s ancient nobility and an anziano (councillor) of the Senate from 1468 to 1502. The importance and splendour of the residence are shown by the fact that on 18 September 1510, after the expulsion of the Bentivoglio family, it was chosen as the most appropriate place to lodge two Venetian ambassadors visiting Bologna in the retinue of Pope Julius II. In 1575, it passed by inheritance to the Cospi family, in 1631 to the Garzoni and in 1735 to a charity, the Opera dei Vergognosi, which leased it to one Gualandi, a canon lawyer. In the early 19th century the building was still owned by the Gualandi family. After further changes of ownership, in December 1925 the whole building was acquired by the Società Anonima Magazzini Centrali Italiani and in 1930 it passed into the ownership of the Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna.

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via Castiglione, 8


Just a short stroll away from the Two Towers, in the first stretch of Via Castiglione, is Palazzo Pepoli Vecchio, not to be confused with Palazzo Pepoli Nuovo (also known as Pepoli Campogrande) on the other side of the street. The building is the result of numerous extensions and architectural stratifications. Begun in the 14th century, it was completed only in 1723with the construction of the edifice now at Via Castiglione 10 by G. T. Pepoli, stylistically similar to the earlier building.

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Via Clavature, 10


The history of the monumental complex of S. Maria della Vita begins in 1260, when the Minorite friar Raniero Barcobini Fasani left Perugia and made for northern Italy with a group of followers. As they travelled from town to town they urged the opposite Christian factions to make peace. By the time they reached Bologna they had 20.000 people in tow. Here they founded the confraternity of the Battuti Bianchi (flagellant friars). Together with the citizens of Bologna, including Bonaparte Ghisilieri and the tertiary nun Sister Dolce, they founded a hospital in the city centre, where they housed and cared for pilgrims and the sick.

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Piazzetta Morandi, 2

In the 17th century, in a city where music schools flourished, animated by instrumentalists and youthful choristers who accompanied the liturgy, where the first university course ad lecturam musicae (i.e. a music lectureship) was founded, where Pope Eugenius IV instituted a Magister cantus et gramaticae in the cathedral, the church of S. Cristina had a story to tell.Within its walls a group of Camaldolese nuns, the successors to the Blessed Lucia da Settefonti, found the perfect place to combine devotion to prayer with the performance of music.
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Via Dè Chiari, 25

The Aula Absidale of the Santa Lucia complex was designed for different uses in the past, and it is part of the Bolognese University; it is the location dedicated to conventions and concerts. Its main nave has over 100 seats, while in the apsis there is a wide amphitheatre room. The Architect Roberto Scavannini oversaw the huge restoration of the complex, which was finished in 1998 and brought back the building to its ancient radiance.


via Belle Arti, 54

Aula di Anatomia | Teatro

The Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna is located in the heart of the University district. Together with the Pinacoteca Nazionale, it occupies the Complex of Sant’Ignazio Church and Jesuit Novitiate, founded by Alfonso Torreggiani between 1728-1735.
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via Zamboni, 33

The current structure of Palazzo Poggi building dates back to remodeling and expansion work done in the 16th century on a home purchased by the Poggi family at the end of the 15th century.
Around mid 16th century, Giovanni Poggi, a powerful clergyman in the Pope’s court, had the idea of expanding and improving the palace.
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Piazza del Nettuno, 1

Salone del Podestà | Sala di Re Enzo | Sala degli Atti

Palazzo Re Enzo was built in the 14th century immediately after the Palazzo del Podestà, and it was called originally New Palace to distinguish it from the latter; its function was new indeed, since it had to include the widespread representatives of the people. It became later the forced house of King Enzo of Sardinia, son of the Emperor Frederick II, who, captured during a war, was imprisoned there for 23 years, until his death. The Palazzo was rebuilt and restored several times, and it is one of the most important venues of the city. The crenelated profile of the building faces Nettuno Square and bears witness to the splendour of Bologna during the Middle Ages.


Via Manzoni, 5

The Oratory of San Filippo Neri is a fascinating cultural container property of the Fondazione del Monte di Bologna e Ravenna, that bought and restored the building in 1997 with the objective to return it to the city as a centre of cultural activities. The restoration work lasted 18 months: it faithfully returned what was a masterpiece of Baroque architecture by continuing the works started by Barbacci and using a wooden scaffolding to reconstruct the dome and the vaults.

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Piazza Galvani, 1

Teatro Anatomico | Aula dello Stabat Mater | Aula delle Conferenze Società Medica Chirurgica di Bologna

The monumental 16th century building of Archiginnasio is one of the most meaningful palaces of Bologna. It was built in only one year and half between 1562 and 1563, and in the pope’s intentions the “new schools’ building” or Archiginnasio had to join and dignify the several University schools of the city, to give importance to the Bolognese studies in the face of the competition with the new European University centres.
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Via Irnerio, 48

The normal and pathological human anatomy collection of the Museum shows the path followed by 18th and 19th centuries medical sciences scholars who, after having acquired all the knowledge about the real nature of the human body, would start to study its diseases.
The wax sculptures, natural and dried bones are an important material with valuable didactic purposes that completes the 18th century normal anatomy collection of the Palazzo Poggi Museums, representing thus a continuum in the medical research stranding out in Bologna between the 18th and the 19th centuries.


The MAST Foundation is a non-profit organisation that promotes and coordinates the activities related to its multi-functional centre. Conceived as a bridge between the industrial group and the city, it provides welfare services both to the company and to the local community. Opened in 2013, MAST (Arts, Experience and Technology) is a platform for sharing and collaboration, an innovation catalyst, a compelling place that hosts different functions including the Academy, the Company Restaurant, the Nursery, the Wellness Centre, the Cafeteria, the Auditorium, the technological and photographic Gallery where industrial photography is part of the Foundation’s primary mission: fostering a cultural process that sparks motivation and interest in the mechanical industry, technology, creativity, and entrepreneurship among the younger generations, together with a sense of belonging to one of the most relevant areas in Italy for enterprise development.


The articles listed here are a selection of the ones dedicated to the third edition of the Festival della Scienza Medica.

Click on the images to enlarge them

Unibo Magazine, March 14th, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino Bologna, March 15th, 2017

AUSL Bologna, March 21st, 2017

ANMDO.org, April 1st, 2017

Il Cittadino, April 13th, 2017










La Repubblica Bologna.it, April 14th, 2017

Il Sole 24 Ore (Domenicale), April 16th, 2017

La Repubblica, April 18th, 2017

Corriere di Bologna, 18 aprile 2017

Corriere della Sera, April 19th, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino Bologna, April 19th, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino, April 19th, 2017

La Repubblica Bologna, April 19th, 2017

Tutto Scienze e Salute, April 19th, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino Bologna, April 20th, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino, April 20th, 2017

La Repubblica (Venerdì), April 21st, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino – La Nazione – Il Giorno, April 22nd, 2017

Il Corriere di Bologna, April 23rd, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino Bologna, April 23rd, 2017

Il Sole 24 Ore (Domenica), April 23rd, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino Bologna, April 24th, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino, 24 aprile 2017

Pharmakronos, April 24th, 2017

Corriere di Bologna, April 25th, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino, La Nazione, Il Giorno, May 20th, 2017

Il Sole 24 Ore (Domenica), May 21st,  2017

Il Resto del Carlino, La Nazione, Il Giorno, May 22nd, 2017

La Stampa, May 23rd, 2017

Il Resto del Carlino Bologna, September 22nd, 2017

Ansa.it, September 22nd, 2017

Corriere di Bologna, October 1st, 2017

QN_Il Resto del Carlino, La Nazione, Il Giorno, October 1st, 2017

La Repubblica Bologna, October 1st, 2017

Corriere di Bologna, October 3rd, 2017

Vanity Fair web, October 3rd, 2017

Unibo Magazine, October 3rd, 2017

The Festival della Scienza Medica thanks the Authors, Photographers and Editors of the articles listed here, and is available to present further information about them, as well as – if formally and promptly required – to remove the article.

Interview with Edvard Moser


Interview with Louis Ignarro


Interview with Jules Hoffmann


Interview with Professor Enrico Bucci



RADIO COMPANY – March 15th, 2017
Presentation of the Festival


RAI GR1 LIFE – April 18th, 2017, 12.30/1 p.m.
Interview with prof. Gilberto Corbellini


RADIO CITTA’ DEL CAPO GR – April 20th, 2017, 12 o’clock
Interview with prof. Gilberto Corbellini


RADIO CITTA’ DEL CAPO programma H2Bo – April 20th, 2017, 5 p.m.
Presentation of the programme of the Festival


RADIO INTERNATIONAL – April 20th, 2017
Presentation of the Festival


RAI RADIO 3 SCIENZA – April 21st, 2017, 11.30 a.m. – 12 o’clock
Live broadcast with prof. Jules Hoffmann
“La risposta immune: dagli insetti agli esseri umani”


RADIO 24 MOEBIUS May 13th, 2017
“Le bufale del web”: interview with prof. Luigi Bolondi


“Open Science e l’era della data-revolution”: interview with Dr. Federica Rosetta
The broadcasting of the program will be communicated on this website


Presentation of the Festival


RAI 3 TGR Emilia Romagna – April 20th, 2017, 2 p.m.
Interview with prof. Gilberto Corbellini
Conference “Open Science e l’era della data-revolution”


RAI 3 TUTTA SALUTE – April 20th, 2017
Interview with prof. Luigi Bolondi (live broadcast) about “Le bufale del web”


RAI TRE – TGR Emilia Romagna – April 21st, 2017, 2 p.m.
Interview with prof. Jules Hoffmann about “La risposta immune: dagli insetti agli esseri umani”


TELESANTERNO – April 21st, 2017
Lecture by prof. Elena Cattaneo: “Innovazione staminali embrionali. Quali promesse per le malattie neurodegenerative”


TRC Emilia Romagna – April 22nd, 2017, 2 p.m. and 7.30 p.m.
Interview with prof. Giorgio Cantelli Forti about vaccines


RAI 3 TGR Emilia Romagna – Aprile 23rd, 2017, 7 p.m.
Analysis of the Festival’s results


RAI 3 TGR Emilia Romagna – May 23rd, 2017, 2 p.m.
Interview with prof. Amartya Sen about “Salute e sanità universali: un obiettivo davvero irraggiungibile?”


RAI 3 TGR Leonardo – Mat 24th, 2017, 2.50 p.m.
Interview with prof. Amartya Sen about “Salute e sanità universali: un obiettivo davvero irraggiungibile?”


RAI SCUOLA MEMEX – June 4th, 2017, 9 p.m.
(canale 146 del Digitale terrestre e 806 di Sky)
“Il naturale e l’artificiale: Tra bionica e futura robotica”
TV service and interview with prof. Andrea Stella


RAI SCUOLA MEMEX – September 3rd, 2017, 9 p.m.
“Il rumore del silenzio. Genio e sofferenza in Ludwig van Beethoven”


Interview with prof. Fabrizio Benedetti about homeopathy and placebo effect


Interview with prof. Jules Hoffmann about vaccines, immune system and homeopathy


RAI 3 TGR Emilia Romagna – October 4th, 2017, 7.30 p.m.
Interview with prof. Tomas lindahl