Marino Zerial appointed as new Human Technopole Director

Max Planck Director will lead one of the largest medical and scientific research centers in Europe

© MPI-CBG / Katrin Boes

Marino Zerial, currently one of the directors of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG) in Dresden, a research institute he helped found over 25 years ago, has been appointed as the new director of the Human Technopole in Milan, Italy. He was unanimously appointed by the Foundation’s Supervisory Board after a competitive procedure managed by a Search Committee composed of international experts. According to the Human Technopole Foundation’s Statute, a director is chosen among internationally renowned scientists with a prestigious academic record and proven capacity to lead large-scale multidisciplinary scientific infrastructures. Italian by birth and German by adoption, Marino Zerial will be the second director of Human Technopole, succeeding Iain Mattaj, who led the first phase of the institute’s development from January 2019 to date.

The Human Technopole is Italy’s new research institute for life sciences with the mission to improve human health and well-being, including a focus on healthy aging. The center brings together researchers, universities, and hospitals, to study treatments for cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's.

Anthony Hyman, the managing director of MPI-CBG, congratulates, “We are very proud that our colleague Marino Zerial has been selected to lead Human Technopole, one of the biggest investments in science in Europe in recent times. Marino was one of the founding directors of MPI-CBG and shaped this institute tremendously. I would like to thank Marino on behalf of the board of directors for 25 years of service to this institute and the Max Planck Society.”

“Today, we are happy to welcome Professor Marino Zerial, a leading international scientist who returns to Italy after a career spent entirely abroad in top research institutes. Thanks to his invaluable experience, Professor Zerial will have the task of tackling the next challenges and taking Human Technopole from a start-up status to a scale-up phase. Among the upcoming initiatives, the launch of the strategic National Platforms on biomedical research will for sure benefit from his outstanding experience,” said Gianmario Verona, President of the Human Technopole Foundation.

“I am honored and delighted for the nomination to the Human Technopole Foundation Director and wish to thank President Gianmario Verona as well as the members of the Search Committee and the Supervisory Board for the trust and enthusiasm they communicated to me. Armed with its dual mission of excellence in scientific research and shared technology platforms, Human Technopole has a unique potential to catalyze Italian biomedical science. I will devote my efforts to leading the Human Technopole staff to realize its ambitious mission. My experience at MPI-CBG, especially with the shared and central services and facilities, will be incredibly valuable in this new job. I am grateful to the Max Planck Society for supporting me in this new endeavour and also want to thank my colleagues at MPI-CBG for supporting me in this decision. I go with a lot of enthusiasm, and I will always carry with me the love and support of my colleagues here at MPI-CBG,” commented Professor Marino Zerial. During a phase of transition, Marino Zerial will supervise his research group at MPI-CBG for another 2 to 3 years.

Throughout his brilliant career, Marino Zerial has been involved in the study of liver diseases and made a fundamental contribution to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of intracellular trafficking, in particular the processes that allow cells to internalize molecules, such as nutrients and signaling substances, known as endocytosis. Professor Zerial’s work has been recognized by numerous international research awards, including the FEBS Anniversary Prize (1994), the Chiara D’Onofrio Prize (1999), the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize (2006), and the Fritz Lipmann Honorary Lecture, a prize of the German Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2019). He was elected EMBO Member in 1996 and Member of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in 2019. In addition, in 2021, he was elected an International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Congratulations, Marino!