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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

My opening speech for the Insigneo Showcase 2017

Dear members of Insigneo, dear students and research associates, honoured guests, representatives of our academic, industrial and clinical partners, of the research funders, and of the management of the University and the Trust, I warmly welcome you to the Insigneo showcase 2017.

Today, through the presentations of 16 members of Insigneo, we will provide you sample, hopefully representative, of the extraordinary research and technological innovation work that this institute has undertook in the last 12 months.  The four sessions of the programme well represent our objectives:

We believe in silico technologies can transform fundamental biomedical research, and the session "In silico Science”, Chaired by Damien Lacroix, will provide you a small but representative sample of this important work.

At the core of Insigneo there are radical technological innovations that enable all we do; the session "In silico Technologies”, chaired by Andrew Narracott, will give you a taster of some of them.

After lunch we will focus on the clinical and industrial applications.  The session "In silico Medicine: Predictive Medicine” chaired by Paul Morris, will offer some examples of how in silico medicine is transforming clinical research; the last session, "In silico Medicine for Industrial Exploitation” chaired by Gwen Reilly, will instead offer a sample of the translation toward new biomedical products and technologies.

During the breaks please visit our poster area, where you can catch a much broader view of what we are doing, and stop at the booths where we and our industrial partners show some exciting ideas.

At the end, after Damien conclusions, please try to stay a bit longer if you can, for our drink reception, where we can relax, socialise, and network.

In October 2011, a bit less than six years ago, I started to work at the University of Sheffield, with the mandate to setup a research institute on in silico medicine.  The few of you who were into this adventure from the very beginning know with how much trepidation I started.  After 25 years working in the same institution in Italy, it was a big change, most was unknown.

but I got lucky.  Here I found Rod, I found Pat, Wendy and Richard, Paul and Simon, Damien joined us soon after, and slowly I started to be confident we would make it. And we did: in May 2012 the Insigneo institute opened its membership, and today we celebrate five years of uninterrupted success.

But this is not the end, it is just the beginning.

I want you to picture Insigneo today as one of those 5-year old boys, who runs around constantly, and cannot keep calm for all the gold in the world. It is like there is too much energy bottled up in that little body, can you see it?

OK that what I want Insigneo to be in the next five years.  a restless, over energetic kid, that enthusiastically explore every possible direction of development and improvement.

I want to see Insigneo Ltd, to commercialise our services; I want to see Insigneo international, to fight the effect of the Brexit.  I want to see large clinical trials fully augmented with in silico technologies, and more and more hospital specialists taking clinical decisions with the support of our subject-specific models.  I want to see the next generation of specialist trained in our new master spreading through the world, and make the vision of the Virtual Physiological Human a global reality; I even want to see a module of computational medicine in the standard curriculum of our medicine and nursing students, some time soon.

We do live interesting times. I am sure you have heard of the story of the wolves.  The grandpa tells the grandson that are two wolves constantly fighting inside each of us: one is anger the other is hope; which one will win, ask the grandson? The one you feed, answer the old man.

Well, in Insigneo we plan to feed only the wolf of hope, tolerance, and social justice.  Please dream with us of better futures.

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