On October 22-23, 2018, Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto attended the Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation’s (ISSNAF) Annual Meeting 2018 at the Embassy of Italy in Washington, DC. ISSNAF represents the largest network of Italian scientists and scholars in North America.

The conference’s theme, “Longevity: The Impact of Research, Economics, AI and Robotics to Live Longer, Better Lives,” allowed presenters and attendees to discuss the positive contributions that researchers, tech experts, innovators and corporations can give to “help people live longer and better lives.”

The first day of the meeting featured two panel discussions. The Panel I roundtable presenters examined the impact of longevity on the world’s economy and society, while the Panel II roundtable presenters discussed the research, lifestyle, innovation, and longevity that is currently contributing to longer life expectancies. During this session,  Dr. Fabrizio Renzi presented “Research Solutions for the Silver Economy.” Dr. Renzi serves as director of research initiatives at IBM Italia. Learn about Gallaudet University and IBM’s new partnership.

Dr. Fabrizio Renzi (left) and Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto attend the ISSNAF 2018 Annual Meeting at the Embassy of Italy, Washington, DC.

Petitto notes, “I was impressed with the scholarly research on ageing and the ways that teams of scientists around the nation and world are seeking new ways to improve the lives of ageing individuals. The scientists’ clear goal was not to extend the outermost limits of the human lifespan. (The goal was not to get humans to live until 114 years old, that is, roughly 3 more years than the world’s uppermost lifespan of approximately age 111 years!)  Instead, their goal is to improve the daily quality of life by reducing or eradicating the cluster of diseases that can emerge in later years. While the scientists, of course, found evidence of how the ageing brain declines, it was very uplifting to learn all the ways that neuroscience is contributing to improving neural, cognitive, and physical growth in the elderly. Here, I was especially fascinated by the pioneering techniques that neuroscientists are presently investigating to achieve their goal to identify and remove “ill” cells in the human brain (to arrest or alter their destructive course) so as to stop them from damaging neighboring cells in the brain that cause disease and cognitive decline—and, by doing so, to slow the advancement of human aging.”  

The second, final day of the meeting featured award presentations, including recognitions for researchers and young investigators in the fields of biosciences and cognitive science, engineering, mathematics and physics, oncology, environmental sciences, and astrophysics and chemistry.

About the Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation (ISSNAF)
ISSNAF is a 501c(3) not-for- profit organization whose mission is to promote scientific, academic, and technological cooperation amongst Italian researchers and scholars active in North America and the world of research, academia, and industry in Italy.