Dear Colleagues,

Garda Lake from space

The programme of the ninth FISV meeting has been set up and published on this site, although additions and minor modifications will follow. We have maintained the frame of the previous meetings unchanged: also this year we will try to provide our attendants with a good balance of different scientific disciplines. This has been made possible by the intense and fruitful cooperation between our constituent scientific societies, that have collaborated in the choice of symposia and in their organization. The ensuing scientific programme is very attractive, thus we hope to see you all in Riva del Garda from 26-29 September 2007.

In regard to the situation of Italian research, we are going through a very difficult time. Research funding has plummeted in an unprecedented way for our country. As an example, the PRIN-Biologia call has funded the research community less than 60% of the 2002-2004 average, and the percentage of funded projects has dropped accordingly, from 35 to 21%. Furthermore, the approved projects have yet to be granted. Many of our laboratories are in very serious or severe distress. This is all the more paradoxical, at a time when research has started receiving coverage from the media and attention from the political establishment. FISV has worked hard to voice the discontent of the research community, but this is obviously not enough. In our country, science is not taught adequately in schools, and it is often confused with technology. Lay people still do not understand what research is about and the rules it follows. We must work together to implement the notion of an economic development based on scientific and technological research. It is well established that Italian scientists are potentially competitive on the international scene: it is time to translate promise into fact.

Trying to push aside our discontent, let us see what can be done in the short term. This will be discussed in Riva at the evening round table on 26 September, hopefully in the presence of an influential member of the current cabinet. Furthermore, we must discuss our future as a federation, in the light of some very important news, focussing on the affiliation of an important scientific society to FISV, on the turnover of the presidency, and on the prospect of moving the congress site to a different location.

The 2007 FISV meeting promises to be an interesting one. I truly hope to see you in Riva!

Jacopo Meldolesi
Federazione Italiana Scienze della Vita