Past presidents of USI

The current organisational structure of USI that includes the role of a Rector, has been in effect since September 1st, 2016. Prior to that USI did not have a Rector but a President covering both roles of President of the University Council and the tasks carried out by the Rector. The two former USI Presidents were Marco Baggiolini (January 1997 – August 2006) and Piero Martinoli (September 2006 – August 2016).  


Marco Baggiolini

Former President of USI, January 1997 - August 2006

Marco Baggiolini studied medicine at the University of Basel and graduated in 1962. After graduation, he specialised as Biochemistry Assistant from Bern University (1963-1967) and became Research Associate at New York Rockefeller University (1967-1970) in Christian de Duve laboratory (1974 Nobel Prize). He served as Vice Director of the Division of Pharmacology and Toxicology (1977-1979) and Director of the Division of Research on Inflammation and Immunology (1979-1983) of Sandoz Group Basel, where he had been an active researcher from 1970 to 1983. In 1983 he became Director of the Institute Theodor Kocher at Bern University, where he launched a new research programme on inflammation that lead in 1987 to the discovery of a new class of proteins called chemokines, which activate leukocyte and lymphocytes and regulate their migration. In a decade, the research on chemokines explained the principles of cellular traffic that lies behind immune defence. Marco Baggiolini received several awards for his research including the Prize from the Society for Leukocyte Biology (United States, 1989), recognitions from Balli and Görlich Foundation (Switzerland, 1991), the Emil von Behring Prize (Germany, 1998), the Robert Koch medal (Germany, 2000), the Lavezzari Prize (Switzerland, 2001). From 1992 to 2002 he has ranked as the 100 most cited researchers in the field of Immunology. He received a degree honoris causa in medicine from the University of Ferrara, and became Honorary Member of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences and member of the European Academy. He manages the Division IV of the Swiss National Science Foundation that is responsible for the National Research Centre, and national programmes. He is a member of the editorial board of major American and European scientific and cultural journals.

In 1996 he was called upon to chair the newly established USI, beginning from January 1997. In 2001 he took on a full time role until August 2006. As President, he led important academic projects within USI and on a national level: specifically, he managed the first steps of the University up to its national recognition in the year 2000 with the awarding of the first degrees. He also supported the development of competitive research, the establishment of the Faculty of Informatics, and paved the way for the creation of the Institute of Italian Studies  (established in the year 2007) and took part in the foundation of the Swiss Finance Institute.



Piero Martinoli

Former President of USI, September 2006 - August 2016

Piero Martinoli had been President of the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) from September 2006 until August 2016. In this role, he fostered initiatives to develop supercomputing and computational sciences in Ticino through the establishment of the Institute of Computational Sciences, essential to guarantee the presence of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre in Ticino. He also managed the project that lead to the establishment of a Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at USI.

Martinoli studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zurich (ETH Zurich) where he earned a degree in physics and later a doctorate degree with an experimental-theoretical thesis on the proximity effect of superconductor-normal metal contacts exposed to a magnetic field. As visiting associate professor, he worked in the United States for one of the most prestigious research centres in the study of physics and matter: the Ames Laboratory of Iowa State University. Thanks to the research conducted overseas, he obtained professorship at the ETH Zurich and a chair in experimental physics at the University of Neuchâtel. In the latter, he developed an intense research programme (supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation, the European Union, and the European Scientific Foundation) on two-dimensional superconducting systems. The work resulted in over 120 publications in prestigious international journals. Two of Martinoli’s studies were cited in the scientific background of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics, assigned to David J. Thouless, F. Duncan M. Haldane and J. Michael Kosterlitz. During his two sabbaticals, Piero Martinoli was visiting scientist at the IBM Research Lab in Zurich and visiting professor at the University of Geneva. He was president of the Division II of the Swiss National Science Foundation and recently he was appointed individual member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences. For more information: curriculum vitae; publications list.