Faces and stories of the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences: Giovanni Pedrazzini

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Institutional Communication Service

24 August 2020

An array of topics could be discussed with Giovanni Pedrazzini, co-chief at Cardiocentro Ticino and Full Professor at USI Faculty of Biomedical Sciences. Topics linked not only to his career as a cardiologist but also to his work as a writer and his commitment to humanitarian projects between Africa and India. To satisfy curiosity, we asked him some questions to retrace some milestones in his personal and professional career. 

Originally from the Locarno area, Giovanni Pedrazzini would fetch the Centovalli train directed to Domodossola every Sunday evening to reach Lausanne, where he began his studies. He later specialised in cardiology in Bern and Zurich. He has been involved in Cardiocentro Ticino since its opening in 1999 and later became co-chief of Cardiology alongside Dr Moccetti.

Of his career as a doctor, Giovanni Pedrazzini recalls, in particular, the time spent in the ward at the old hospital in Locarno, where he was confronted for the first time with real patients and diseases, and also with suffering and death. "Every patient I met, every new history of illness seemed to be a wonderful journey into a universe whose greatness and depth I was beginning to discover. It was the jumpstart of my career when I began to understand the meaning of my 'journey'", says Prof. Pedrazzini.

Giovanni Pedrazzini specialised in the medical discipline that deals with the heart, a simple and essential organ that pumps millions of litres of blood throughout our lives. "It is true; the heart must be simple and essential in order to properly pump all the blood that circulates continuously, from birth to death, in people's bodies. It is the best engine of all. However, the chance for the heart to wear out and get sick and eventually stop working is higher than for other organs.", explains Pedrazzini, who today is co-chief of the so-called "heart clinic", the term of endearment that most people use when referring to Cardiocentro Ticino. "Over the last 40 years, global research in cardiology has invested enormously in finding solutions to cure the heart and protect it from the many threats linked partly to natural ageing and partly to external damage, such as smoking. And so much progress has been made," says Pedrazzini. " On the front line, we have experienced hands-on all the progress made in modern cardiology and cardiac surgery. In some areas, such as percutaneous repairs of the mitral valve, stem cells and certain pharmacological therapies, we were even pioneers, and in turn, we have paved the way for others", he concludes.

In addition to his work in the clinic and, soon, also on the new East Campus of USI, Prof. Pedrazzini is also involved in the humanitarian field, particularly in Guinea Bissau, in West Africa, where he travels every year to treat children with heart conditions. "It is a commitment born by pure chance. I received a phone call from a colleague asking for a consult regarding a little girl suffering from a heart defect, and that is when it all began," Pedrazzini explains. "I travelled several times in Guinea Bissau, assisting doctors on the premises until I decided to perform surgery on a certain number of girls and boys with valve problems. An adventure that I would repeat, but which required enormous commitment and dedication and which I hardly imagine I can continue in the future, also considering the imminent start of the Master at USI".

In 2017 Pedrazzini was among the first professors to be appointed to the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences. His word of advice to the future students of USI Master in Medicine is "not be afraid of embarking on this extraordinary journey. Seize the many opportunities ahead, be passionate, and above all do not be afraid to get their hands dirty with the many human and clinical conditions they will have to face. In short, I would like to advise them not to give up".

Ticino is also a region to explore, and many are eager to unveil its peculiarities. Of the many beautiful places to discover, Prof. Pedrazzini is very fond of the "small farmstead at the top of the Maggia Valley, a very simple place, my safe haven, where I can gather my thoughts and recharge".

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