From the Colosseum to the Roman aqueducts, Italy has historically been admired, envied, and imitated for its feats in advanced engineering. Beginning with Leonardo da Vinci’s military tanks and extending through today in such diverse arenas as high-performance automobiles and technical textiles, Italy has remained at the forefront of cutting-edge engineering. And in the world of biomedical engineering, Italy continues the legacy established by da Vinci in 1489 when he began his pioneering investigations of human physiology. So, it is perhaps unsurprising that Milan should be the setting for the 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, which will be held 25–29 August at the Milan Conference Center.
In a wide and varied spectrum of biomedical research, Italy is at the vanguard—whether it is in wearable sensors embedded in high-tech textiles, rehabilitation robotics, or new technologies for active aging. In acknowledgment of Italy’s continuing contributions to biomedical investigation, this issue explores a variety of topics in Italian biomedical research, ranging from biomaterials and tissue engineering to biomedical signal processing and mathematical modeling of heart disease. Although it would be impossible to present the full breadth and depth of all biomedical research happening around the country, the authors have attempted to present an overview of a few select areas that will hopefully convey something of the energy and excitement in Italian labs today.
As part of this overview, Alberto Redaelli writes on mathematical modeling of heart disease; Claudio Cobelli and Mauro Ursino address mathematical modeling of glucose and neural systems; Maurizio Ventre et al. write on biomaterials and tissue engineering; Anna M. Bianchi et al. discuss signal and image processing; and Eugenio Guglielmelli et al. provide a review of research in biomechanics. Also included is an interview with Riccardo Pietrabissa, president of the Gruppo Nazionale di Bioingegneria (National Bioengineering Group), who reflects on the promise and challenges of biomedical engineering education in Italy. Finally, for a historical perspective on the life and work of Italy’s preeminent engineering mind, please read “Leonardo da Vinci, Artist-Engineer.” Buona lettura!