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History of School

The foundation of the Scuola Superiore d'Immunologia Ruggero Ceppellini (Ruggero Ceppellini Advanced School of Immunology) stemmed from the necessity to create in Southern Italy a pole of attraction for those pursuing immunological studies, and to promote interaction among the scientific and medical communities at the national and international levels.

The School was intended also to fill the inadequacy of specific immunological studies in the medical curriculum of the Italian academic institutions, not properly equipped to keep up to date with the rapid changes in a field which has an enormous impact on all aspects of modern medicine and biological research.

The long-standing dedication of Serafino Zappacosta to foster wider interest for immunology and to attract to the discipline young scientists, also from disadvantaged Countries, was essential in encouraging a group of scientists to achieve the difficult task of materialising, in a formal and functional institution, the advancement of creativity and enterprise in this fascinating field of Science.

To honour the memory of one of the great Italian scientists operating in the field, the School took its name from Ruggero Ceppellini (1917-88), the immunogeneticist who contributed so much toward the studies of the major histocompatibility complex, having now a central role in the control of nearly all immunological responses.

But the attention for continuing education programmes was one of the major achievement of Serafino Zappacosta, also before the School's foundation and in fact some courses, of the same format than that used in the courses organised later by the School, were organised and held since the early '70s. There was, in fact, the firm belief of Serafino Zappacosta that Immunology, a very promising discipline at that time, was destined to take in future years a pivotal role in the field of pathology. This consideration prompted him to organise courses for physicians and bio-medical researchers which would stimulate their interest for research in the field. These courses, for which the 3 level format was already adopted, were not connected to the current University programmes, due to the little attention given by the central academic institutions to new disciplines in general and to their obsolete teaching schemes.

The School was constituted as a non-profit scientific association and the constitutional act was signed in Naples on 13 June, 1991, by Melchiorre Brai, Antonio Di Giacomo, Giovanni B Ferrara, Ciro Manzo, Alfred Nisonoff and Serafino Zappacosta. The School's inaugural ceremonies were held on 11 October, 1992, at Palazzo Serra di Cassano in Naples, the seat of the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, on the occasion of the School's first course, dealing with the immunology of bone marrow transplantation. Talks entitled as follows were delivered in that memorable session :

Plato, Jerne, Ceppellini: Speculation and Experiment in Immunology
by Jan Klein

The Ruggero Ceppellini Legacy
by G B Ferrara

Immunology: Basic Principles and Challenges
by Alfred Nisonoff

The Advanced School of Immunology: Aims and Ideals
by Serafino Zappacosta & Antonio Di Giacomo

Concluding Address
by Gerardo Marotta


The Board of Directors, who had them among their early members, take this occasion to honour the memory of Ciro Manzo and Melchiorre Brai, deceased in 1998 and 1999, respectively, acknowledging their high dedication to the School achievements and progress.

The aim of the School is to foster, encourage and propagate all aspects of knowledge relating to immunology and associated disciplines (genetics, microbiology, oncology) in the scientific community in Italy and in other Countries, particularly in developing countries, through the promotion of scientific research, continuing education and in-service training in these disciplines. These objectives are described in detail in the School's Statue.

The death of the School Founder Prof. Serafino Zappacosta, occurred suddenly in Naples on 5 May 2006, and is an incommensurable loss. At the same time, his strenuous passion in promoting School activities represents a potent stimulus to continue his enormous efforts to foster wider interest for immunology and to attract to the discipline young scientists, also from disadvantaged countries. 

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