From Research to Headache Care and Back – XXXI Ottorino Rossi Award Celebrations of the 50 years of the Pavia Headache Centre Academic Year 1970/71 – Academic Year 2020/21
Five decades have passed since 1970, the year in which Prof. Giuseppe Nappi, then a young university lecturer, founded the Headache and Brain Circulation Center at the University of Pavia. Over the years, this center, based at the Mondino Foundation, went on to become a “Regional Center of Reference”, an important recognition in the healthcare field. In the course of this past half century, scientific knowledge in the field of headaches has made enormous strides, transforming a disorder sometimes considered the Cinderella of neurology into a topic of great scientific interest, in which discoveries have continued incessantly, leading to a series of major achievements. These include one of the most advanced nosographic classifications in medicine, the identification of specific drugs, and the development of highly innovative, complex and multidisciplinary management approaches. This scientific and healthcare revolution has mainly involved two forms of primary headache: migraine and cluster headache, both chronic and complex neurological diseases whose multiple symptoms, in addition to the head pain, reflect the involvement of multiple brain circuits. The development of valid animal models has made it possible to shed light on different aspects of the neurobiology of cranial pain. We now know, for instance, that the well-established female prevalence of migraine is due to differences in the levels of pain receptors located on the meninges that surround the brain. The discovery, in the 1980s, of a key molecule mediating head pain led to the creation of drugs (monoclonal antibodies and receptor antagonists) capable of selectively blocking its biological action. In addition, the identification of various phases in the migraine attack, together with the focus on the entire spectrum of migraine symptomatology, has allowed us to identify the structures responsible for attacks and, through the use of sophisticated neurophysiological and neuroimaging methods, made it possible to clarify the temporal sequence of their activation. In all these areas, the Pavia Headache Center has constantly played a role of primary importance. Starting from its first clinical and neurochemical studies, it has progressively expanded its horizons, both temporal and scientific, enriching its experience with nosographic classification activities, epidemiological investigations, the development of animal and human models of disease, studies involving neurophysiological and neuroimaging methods, and pharmacological trials. From the passion and enthusiasm of a small founding group of young neurologists (Giorgio Bono, Emilia Martignoni, Giuseppe Micieli, Grazia Sances and Giorgio Sandrini), a long tradition of research and healthcare, enriched over the years with new faces and new ideas, was born. The Pavia Headache Center has trained numerous headache experts, and created a network of excellence at national and European level, thereby consolidating the foundations not only of its present, but also, more importantly, of its future. In fact, this year, a representative of the great Pavia Headache School is set to take the reins of the International Headache Society. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Pavia Headache Center, colleagues and friends, from various parts of the world, who have contributed, together with the Pavia School, to the growth of headache science and medicine will be getting together, in person and/or virtually, at the Mondino Foundation. The event will be an opportunity to testify to the progress made and to discuss future developments with the Mondino Foundation’s younger generation, and with members of of the University of Pavia’s Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences.
This event will see the prestigious Ottorino Rossi Award, now in its 31st year, awarded to Prof. Rigmor H. Jensen (Department of Internal Medicine C, Glostrup Hospital, University of Copenhagen), a researcher of great international renown in the field of headaches. In addition, prizes will be awarded to two young researchers, in memory, respectively, of Emilia Martignoni and Paolo Rossi, two colleagues who contributed hugely to the whole scientific community, and the Mondino Foundation in particular, both as researchers and clinicians and, more important still, as people.