Faces and stories of the USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences: the Dean

Il Decano della Facoltà di scienze biomediche Mario Bianchetti
Il Decano della Facoltà di scienze biomediche Mario Bianchetti

Institutional Communication Service

6 July 2020

In a few months the first semester of the new USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences will begin, and to welcome the first students of the Master of Medicine we tell the stories of the professors that these students will soon familiarise with in the classrooms and in the hospital wards. Starting with the Dean, Prof. Dr. med Mario Bianchetti, who shares parts of his personal life and professional career.

In 2015, Mario Bianchetti (b. 1949), bringing with him extensive experience and knowledge, accepted a great challenge which is now finally unfolding: the creation of a Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at Università della Svizzera italiana. Bianchetti earned his degree in Medicine at the University of Bern, where he was appointed PD in 1992 and Associate professor in 1998. A phyisican specialising in paediatrics, he was head of paediatrics at the Ospedale Regionale di Bellinzona e Valli (regional hospital in the Bellinzona district of Ticino) and director of the Dipartimento di Pediatria della Svizzera italiana (Department of paediatrics of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland). Of his career as a student, Bianchetti recalls in particular: "because I was careless, I forgot to enrol in the first year at the university. But thanks to a kind secretary, I managed to make up for the day when the courses started (unthinkable today!). During my studies I also made friends, some of which today are also my best friends".

The professional career of Mario Bianchetti was defined by the encounter - in Lugano, Geneva and Paris - with four individuals who left a lasting mark on him. Ettore Rossi, Professor of paediatrics in Bern, who "infused me with his passion for medicine as a job without time limits"; Carlofelice Beretta-Piccoli, Professor in Bern and Chief of medicine in Lugano, who "passed on his interest in medical science and research". As Bianchetti recalls, "during the years I spent in Geneva I was enthralled by Luc Paunier, a paediatrician who listened, analysed and treated with a 'finesse d'esprit' that I always tried to imitate. Finally, in Paris, I worked with Michel Broyer, a specialist in kidney disease. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of medicine that he used in an amazingly beautiful way".

One of the strengths of the new Faculty is its strong ties with the region, conveyed to the students not only through the doctors who will accompany them throughout their studies, but also through the experience they will acquire in the regional hospitals - a small, local environment that is an added value according to Bianchetti. "During my studies I learned more by spending time in hospitals (and with general practitioners) in the suburbs of Bern than at the large Inselspital. I am sure that this will also happen in Ticino, which is only apparently more suburban than the hospitals in the large cities of Switzerland". But there is something else too. "Medical students make things livelier in hospitals and clinics. I often say that students in a hospital are like grandchildren staying with their grandparents. It is a great effort, for all, but the reward to have them with us is great," says Bianchetti.

For many students, Ticino will also be a location, a region to explore and get to know better, in all its beauty. For the Dean the message is clear: "may you explore the many buildings, that bear witness to our long and complex history, and the mountains".