On 6 November 2017, in the Hall of the Center of Neurobiology of the M. Necki Institute, was held the ceremony of awarding the Necki Prize by Professor Claudio Franceschi, who currently works as Professor Emeritus at the University of Bologna and at the Institute of Neurological Sciences in Bologna, at the Bellaria Hospital.
Achievements and career of professor Franceschi were presented by professor Malgorzata Kossut (laudation) and professor Ewa Sikora (introduction). The laureate gave the lecture entitled: “Centenarians as a model for healthy aging and a legacy of humanity”.
Professor Claudio Franceschi, who was born in Italy, graduated from the Medical Faculty at the University of Bologna, with the title of Medical Doctor (1967). He was the professor of immunology at the University of Padua (1980-86), Modena (1986-1998) and Bologna (1998-2013). He was the founder and director of the Interdepartmental Center “L. Galvani” for studies on Bioinformatics and Biocomplexity at the University of Bologna (2001-2006; 2012). He was also the research director in the Italian National Research Center on Aging, INRCA in Ancona (1996-2005) of the public institution dealing with matters of aging and caring for the elderly.
Professor Franceschi has published more than 720 research papers in reviewed journals, which, in accordance with Google Scholar, have reached over 46 000 citations and the Hirsch index of over 100 (July 2017). Professor Franceschi can boast of coordination of four great European projects in the years 2004-20019, including:
1. PROPAG-AGEING (Aging and Parkinson disease, 2015-2019);
2. ADAGE (Alzheimer disease within an aging perspective; 2016-2018);
3. NUAGE (New dietary strategies for the elderly, 2011-2016);
4. GEHA (GEnetics of Heathy Aging, 2004-2010)
and participation in nine other projects.
Professor Claudio Franceschi is the member of the editorial board in the following journals: Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, Experimental Gerontology; Mechanisms of Ageing and Development; Aging Research Reviews; AGING (USA); Aging Cell, as well as the laureate of many national and international awards. His greatest achievements include: i) characterization of aging of the immune system (accumulation of memory T cells, reductions of naive T cells, activation of innate immunity and CMV infection); ii) development of the theory of reprogramming of the immune system in aging, the theory of noninfectious chronic inflammation in aging, the so-called “inflammaging”, as well as the theory of biography of the immune system; iii) conduct of pioneering research concerning the role of stress in the response of the immune system in the evolution perspective; iv) conduct of pioneering research in the field of genetics, epigenetics, metabolomics, metagenomics and glycemic control of long living persons, including centenarians (100+) and supercentenarians (105+), as well as their offsprings; v) identification of nuclear genome polymorphism and DNA mitochondrial polymorphism, associated with longevity, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes; vi) identification of new aging biomarkers (intestinal microflora, N-glycans, ELOVL2 gene methylation, miRNA associated with inflammation, as well as lipid and metabolomatic biomarkers).
Professor Franceschi was the invited participant of several hundred conferences devoted to aging, some taking place in Poland. His contacts with the Necki Institute began with the cooperation with professor Ewa Sikora in 1992, when she first commenced joint research at the University in Modena, on his invitation. In the years 1992-2005, professor Ewa Sikora and her PhD students (Ewa Radziszewska-Graduszynska and Adriana Magalska), as well as the co-worker (Ewa Jaruga, PhD) repeatedly visited the studio of professor Franceschi, addressing the issues of cellular aging and cell death. Professor Franceschi made a significant substantial contribution to the organization of the program of Polish centenarians – the POLSTU initiated at the Necki Institute and coordinated by the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw. Professor Franceschi invited professor Ewa Sikora to participate in the EU Genetics of Healthy Aging project, which he coordinated and in the Bio Mark project coordinated by professor Alexandra Burkela. The cooperation has resulted in 29 joint publications in renowned international journals. Professor Franceschi has contributed significantly to the development of research on aging and longevity at the Necki Institute.