Testimonials for Pioneer Member Alessandro Vitale

Alcide Bertani – Sandro Vitale made an important contribution to the area of protein structural maturation and trafficking in plant cells, and is internationally recognized as one of the most authoritative scientists in the field. His studies on storage protein accumulation, molecular chaperones and targeting signals paved the way to many further studies in the area of plant cell biology.

Michele Wolfe Bianchi – In 1984, Alessandro was the first person to welcome me when I started my undergraduate laboratory internship in Milano, at the “Istituto per le Biosintesi Vegetali”, now called IBBA. Although I was not working in his team, Alessandro always took time to talk to me and give me his advice. This was either on experimental approaches, which I followed with succes, or on my career strategy. Alessandro’s precision and clear thinking in his own research has always been an inspiration.

Nica Borgese – Sandro has been a fantastic friend and colleague throughout my career. I am not a plant biologist but interacted with him constantly on problems of the eukaryotic secretory pathway, the Endoplasmic Reticulum, and its response to stress. I collaborated with him only once; the collaboration generated a memorable Journal of Cell Biology paper. Sandro was a never-tiring participant to Italian Cell Biology meetings and to the Milanese Endoplasmic Reticulum club. He infused liveliness into these meetings, and an interesting different point of view, given that there were few plant biologist participants. Best luck to Sandro to continue to contribute to the cell biology community!

Aldo Ceriotti – I share many scientific interests with Sandro and we have been working close by in the same Institute for many years. It was an extremely rewarding interaction, and having such a dedicated, competent, and committed scientist as a colleague was very intellectually stimulating. It has been a great fortune to be able to walk just a few meters from my office to sit down with him and discuss a recent finding or the perspectives of our work. Sandro was a pioneer in the study of the plant secretory pathway at the molecular level, and his work had a major impact in the area of storage protein synthesis and intracellular trafficking.

Maarten and Janet Chrispeels – Sandro was one of my star postdocs and has remained a true friend all these years.

M. Serena Fabbrini – Alessandro Vitale was my mentor and tutor during my initial training in plant cell biology. I was one of the first students he graduated in Biological Sciences at the University in Milano (Statale). Besides being an excellent scientist, he was passionate and able to transmit rigorous thinking, scientific methods, and most importantly, his friendship and continuous support. We had hard times, when during a power failure my first Olivetti PC suddenly went into a blackout. I did not have a copy saved (sigh) and was supposed to discuss my final thesis in a few weeks. I missed all my data along with my thesis… It was January 6th, 1987 (a long long time ago) and my friends were joking about how in her sock Epiphany brought lots of surprises inside..and even Serena’s biological thesis this New year. Sandro was hosting me at his home (thanks to Anna and Luca, as well) and sometimes I also came with my son Simone, who became best friends with Luca. In a few days, we recovered all the figures and results & discussion, working on Saturdays and Sundays. They invited us to join them in Valle D’Aosta, and we discovered this wonderful region where we still go nowadays for skiing. When I brought my work for printing, the guy joked about how thin my printed thesis was. I remember arguing that only the content really matters. During my training, I recall the fear of one day arriving at the lab and finding Sandro, his arms folded, waiting for me just in front of the main institute’s door, looking very serious and saying ” Now you will see what happens when you have your head in the clouds…” I immediately was feeling so guilty and ashamed, trying to figure out what I could have done wrong the day before. We passed the lab’s door, so I felt less guilty and we went straight to the centrifuge room. Somebody put in the centrifuge chamber the wrong rotor, and it had exploded, destroying both the rotor and the centrifuge. From this day on, I always am double-checking rotor numbers and machine type. What else? Thanks to Sandro I worked as a scientist for many years, met my husband when I started working on plant ribosome-inactivating proteins, and although I decided to teach math and science this last decade, I still do see myself as a researcher who transmits passion to secondary school students.

Lorenzo Frigerio – Sandro is an outstanding researcher and educator and an exceptional supervisor. Working as a postdoc in Sandro’s lab was the most fun and productive time I have had in a lab. Sandro has very high standards but has a lovely, understated way of empowering his collaborators to achieve them. His style is to assume you know as much as he does and treat you as a peer, being patient and supportive when things go wrong and making it look like it’s all your doing when things go well. Sandro remains one of my role models, and I believe he fully deserves the accolade of a Pioneer of ASPB.

Fiorella LoSchiavo – It has been and still is a pleasure to belong to the same national and international scientific community, and to share with you a longtime friendship. You helped me and my group to enter deeply in some aspects of cell biology, a field that you have explored successfully for so many years. Thanks for the important contributions you gave to all of us.

Andrea Pompa – I started my career working in Sandro Vitale’s laboratory in Milan. His passion for science and the discovery of mechanisms that regulate the synthesis, folding, and sorting of secretory proteins in plants made me fall in love with plant physiology, which I teach today at the University of Urbino. As well as being a guide, Sandro has become a great friend and a point of reference for passionate scientific and human discussions.

Natasha Raikhel – Sandro, thank you for being a great colleague and friend! I am grateful for your help and advice over the years. Natasha

Angelo Santino – I knew Alessandro and worked with him in Milan from 1990 to 1992, and thanks to him I started to appreciate and love plant biology. Alessandro was a great scientist on these topics and a great mentor who never spared suggestions and encouragement to me and other young scientists.

Francesca Sparvoli and Roberto Bollini – Dr. Vitale has been a pioneer in the field of plant cell biology at the Institute of biology and agricultural biotechnology in Milan, Italy.

Angelo Viotti – A true and extraordinary pioneer of cell and plant biology