In the late seventies Gian Luigi Gessa and his collaborators started to organize in Sardinia a biannual international “Capo Boi Conference on Neuroscience” which, thanks to the high scientific level and the beauty of the venue, attracted outstanding neuroscientists from Europe and the USA. The perception that Italian researchers engaged in different fields of basic and clinical neurological sciences should share their knowledge in order to understand the functioning of the brain, was therefore clear to Gessa and his collaborators before the formalization of a Society dedicated to neuroscience, which was achieved only several years later during the “Capo Boi Conference on Neuroscience” held in 1983. SINS was thus founded on June 3, 1983.
The founders of the SINS were a group of 8 neuropharmacologists: Giovanni Biggio, Giovanni Umberto Corsini, Gaetano Di Chiara, Walter Fratta, Gian Luigi Gessa, Giampaolo Mereu, Zvani Rossetti, Pier Franco Spano. The statute of the Society listed ten different panels to be represented in the SINS governing council: neuropharmacology, neuromorphology, neurophysiology, neurotoxicology, neurochemistry, neurobiology of behavior, cellular and molecular neurobiology, neuroendocrinology, biological psychiatry, neurology.
Gian Luigi Gessa was the first elected President. The following were Pier Giorgio Strata (1988), Giulio Levi (1991), Giorgio Bernardi (1993), Luciano Martini (1995), Giacomo Rizzolatti (1997), Jacopo Meldolesi (1999), Damiano Zaccheo (2001), Fabio Benfenati (2003), Gaetano Di Chiara (2005), Marina Bentivoglio (2007), Lucio Annunziato (2009), Enrico Cherubini (2011), Flavio Moroni (2013), Fiorenzo Conti (2015), Micaela Morelli (2017). Paolo Calabresi is the President of SINS at the moment and Alessandro Vercelli is the current Elect President, who will take the office in 2022.
The first SINS Congress was organized in Roma in December 1984. The opening lecture was assigned to Vittorio Somenzi, a philosopher of science interested in cybernetics, who focused his speech on the “Historical origins and philosophical implications in neuroscience”. A number of distinguished Italian neuroscience scientists were nominated honorary members. They were Daniele Bovet (1907-1992), a 1957 Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries of antihistamines and curares; Vittorio Erspamer (1909-1999), who discovered 5hydroxytriptamine and numerous neuroactive peptide,; Rita Levi-Montalcini, 1986 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of Nerve Growth Factor; Giuseppe Moruzzi (1910-1986), the eminent neurophysiologist “father” of the ascending brainstem activating system.
The topics discussed in the symposia, lectures and poster sessions of this first Congress of the SINS reflected the main research topics in which the Italian neuroscience community was engaged. An important aspect of the SINS Congresses has always been the “translational neuroscience”, i.e. the relevance of basic research for clinical studies in psychiatry and neurology.
Interesting initiatives of the SINS have been the organization of meetings dedicated exclusively to young neuroscientists alternate to the biannual Society Congress and every year the event “Alliance of Neuroscience” with the aim to promote awareness about the important role of the neuroscience in several scientific fields. These events have been very productive in terms of exchange of ideas, fostering enthusiasm and communication among young generations of researchers. The Society is still paying particular attention to the formation of young neuroscientists by supplying training and congress fellowships for them.
Since its birth, SINS has established and maintained very close connections with other national and international Neuroscience Societies, such as the International Brain Research organization (IBRO) and the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS).
The constant and enthusiastic participation of the society members, (more than 1.000) to SINS activities allowed the society to organize the IBRO meeting in Florence (July 2011) and the FENS forum congress in Milan (July 2014).