The Future is Now!

GIANNI BENZI

A scientist and sports enthusiast. A unique, charismatic figure who has always fought against the use of drugs that improve performance in sports.

the future is now!

This was Gianni Benzi’s mantra, in particular in public appearences. A sentence concentrating in a few words the essence of his way to conceive scientific research.
He was fully convinced of the need to work hard for the advancement of scientific research, engaging forces and knowledge in the present to ensure future generations of quality medicines and able to cure any kind of disease, especially rare ones.
He had a key role in the international scientific debate in the field of cerebral and muscular bioenergetics and neurobiology, and made a significant contribution to the set up of an European Pharmaceutical System based on innovation and safety use of medicines.
Gianni Benzi represented a unique figure of a scientist passionated about sport. This combination has characterized the whole professional and personal path of Gianni Benzi, always fighting against the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport.
Strongly committed to implement at national level the aims and the contents of the European Pharmaceutical System, he also funded the first interdisciplinary and international Regulatory Science School in Europe.

Born in Alessandria in 1931, Gianmartino Benzi was a lively figure, full of enthusiasm and especially passionate about the defense of human and civil rights and justice, with a wide range of interests.
He graduated in Medicine and Surgery with full marks at the University of Pavia in 1955, and later, he obtained the lecturing post in Pharmacology (1965) and in Toxicology (1968).
In 1974 he became Full Professor and Director of the Institute of Pharmacology of the University of Pavia, while continuing to closely collaborate with international institutions in France, UK and US.
He was an indisputable leader in pharmacological circles, both at national and international level, in the field of cerebral and muscular bioenergetics, neurobiology and neuropathology of cerebral aging, that have characterised and still characterise the Pavia School of Pharmacology of the Faculty of Science.
Parallel to university studies, there were also the first systematic studies on the misuse and abuse of drugs in sport, which continued throughout his scientific and professional activity. Starting from the 70s-80s, he cooperated with the FIDAL (Italian Federation of Athletics), whereof he founded the ‘Centro Studi e Ricerche’ becoming its Scientific Director. Later, he joined the first and second CONI Anti-Doping Scientific Committee, where he played a fundamental and authoritative “regulatory” and scientific role.
From 1998 until his last days, he supported the activities of the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office as a Consultant, in the context of important investigations and actions against doping, always continuing his fight against the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sport and in general of the misuse of drugs.
The “regulatory” activity began in Europe from 1989 to 1994 as an expert both of the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee. Thanks to this role, he became Representative of the European Parliament in the EMEA Management Board for three assignments, up to 2006: a clear recognition from the Parliament for his work and his commitment to the birth and the guide of the EMEA. Also, in 1999 he founded in Italy the University School of Specialty in Regulatory Sciences based in Pavia. In 2003 this School will be then turned into the Second Level Biennal Master, now called Master in Regulatory Sciences “G. Benzi”.
In 2000, the European Regulation on Orphan Drugs become operational and he was appointed as member of the relevant committee (COMP, Committee on Orphan Medicinal Products) as well as of the “Working Party for the Herbal Medicines”. In the meantime, as a representative of University of Pavia, he founded the Consortium for Biological and Pharmacological Evaluations (CVBF) of which he has been Chairman until November 2006.
In the same period, coinciding with the fatal development of his disease, he was appointed as member of the WADA Medical Committee (World Anti- Doping Agency) TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemptions) Working Group where, unfortunately, he was not able to provide the contribution of his experience and his humanity.

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