President's letter

I am very pleased to be able to welcome you to the updated ISNV website, which has been designed to describe the evolution of the school since its foundation.  If you look at the history of the ISNV, you will be able to see how what was a historically important but, by then, obsolete psychiatric institution became a modern centre of neuroscience culture that welcomes students from all over the world.
At the beginning of the Brain Decade In 1990, Diego Fontanari (ISNV President until 2002 and honorary president until 2008) and Francesco Paladin (a Director of the ISNV from the beginning) decided to give new life to the Venetian island of San Servolo by establishing an International School of Neurosciences, the success of which is borne out by the number of educational and training courses in various fields that have taken place there over the last 27 years. Since 1995 the ISNV activities benefited from the establishment in San Servolo of the International Venice University (VIU)  with which fruitful integrated programs have been developed with the help of the managing organization San Servolo Servizi.

When I had the honour of taking over the ISNV presidency in 2002, I found myself engaged in further promoting the worldwide scope of the school’s educational activities and, among other things, I would particularly like to cite the series of annual International Epilepsy Summer Courses that have been held under the auspices of the International League Against Epilepsy and led to the creation of the San Servolo Epilepsy School as a special section of the ISNV. In collaboration with the Mariani Foundation of Milan and the New York Academy of Sciences, the ISNV also pioneered studies of the neurosciences and music in Italy by organising an international Neuroscience and Music conference on the island that became the start  of a series that reached its sixth edition in Boston in 2017. This has greatly contributed to the rapid development of this relatively new field of the neurosciences, and the fertile soil of San Servolo has nurtured the converging interests of the two disciplines by playing host to a number of initiatives involving the ISNV and the Venice School of Music.

I cannot go into detail concerning the many other interesting things to be found in this website, but I would like to comment on two aspects of the school that are particularly dear to me: its openness to anyone who is motivated to learn, and the interactive relationship between its teachers and students. Every effort is constantly made to ensure that the ISNV’s educational activities are truly accessible to students from all over the world regardless of the financial constraints that may otherwise prevent applicants from economically disadvantaged countries to participate in the school’s courses. It has become increasingly difficult to gather the resources necessary to create fellowships and bursaries in order to subsidise participation, and I am profoundly grateful to the private and public bodies that have contributed grants and donations and strongly hope that  we will be able to continue finding educational organisations and donors who believe in the value of ISNV.

The second aspect is the school’s approach to teaching, which is based on encouraging reciprocal exchanges between teachers and students as the most effective way of improving knowledge. Over the years, we have undertaken various interactive initiatives that have subsequently been integrated into the school’s teaching methods, including group activities to prepare research projects and discuss controversial questions. I would here like to thank all of the teachers and students who have contributed to improving the school’s educational objectives: their enthusiastic participation has been a major driving force, and has made it so very enjoyable for all of us (and me in particular) to be involved in the activities of what I call the San Servolo neuroscience community.


Giuliano Avanzini
ISNV President


You are here: Home About us President's letter