The School of Neurology, University of Ferrara

Written by  Enrico Granieri
A Neurophysiology Masters for Chinese neurologists
The Capital University of Medical Sciences, Beijing, and the Chinese universities of Canton, Qing Hai and Ning Xia are sending a number of their neurologists to complete their neurophysiology training in Ferrara. The School of Neurology is extremely proud to have been selected as a Centre for Education capable of developing an advanced teaching programme. The course will be modelled on a Masters' Degree, and the teaching will be oriented towards practical applications. The young Chinese students who take this course will thus be equipped with the basic understanding necessary for the use and interpretation of modern neurophysiological techniques.
They will also participate in the research projects and other activities of the Institute of Clinical Neurology. 'Western' neurological techniques will be compared to those of traditional Chinese medicine. The institution of this Masters is conceived as the first step towards establishing a permanent offshoot of the University of Ferrara in China, not restricted to neuroscience. On 25 April 2006, the university opened a permanent office at the Capital University of Beijing, with the support of the Italian Embassy in China. This project has been developed through the joint initiative of the Ferrara School of Neurology and the Istituto Neurologico Besta in Milan. The School of Neurology was founded in 1975, when the university appointed Mirko Carreras as head of the Institute of Nervous Diseases. The Institute of Clinical Neurology, which merged with the Neurology unit of the city hospital seven years ago, has continually increased the scope of its activities, as shown by the continual growth in the numbers of personnel from various regions and engaged in numerous areas of work. The in-patient facilities are dedicated to the treatment of acute nervous disorders or those requiring highly complex care; the semi-intensive stroke unit provides advanced treatment to limit cerebral damage, in cooperation with other sections of the Department for Clinical Neurosciences.
The structural development of the Institute of Clinical Neurology and the Neurology Unit have led to the creation of the most up-to-date laboratories, treatment centres, doctors' offices and other services. From its inception the School of Neurology has devoted attention to the research and treatment of multiple sclerosis, taking responsibility for patients and cooperating with patients' organisations.
The Multiple Sclerosis Research Centre was set up in collaboration with local, national and overseas research groups to promote scientific endeavour in this field and to help to train researchers. The Centre also coordinates the International Epidemiological Multiple Sclerosis Study Group. The Neuroimmunology Laboratory attached to the Centre is internationally renowned for its work on neuroinflammation, and for the excellence of diagnostic abilities.
The results of the research into neuroepidemiology begun in the early seventies place Ferrara at the forefront of the global scientific community, for the rigour and originality of its research in the field of neurological conditions. The Laboratory of Neuropsychology treats patients with cognitive disorders and dementia and is also a centre of post-graduate studies. It carries out multi-disciplinary research into language disorders, both written and oral, and into pathological aging of the brain. The School of Ferrara has always been dedicated to teaching up-to-date theoretical and practical courses, which equip students with an integrated understanding of the various aspects of neurology. The interest and value of the school's work is attested to by students' positive assessments each year and by the high number of students choosing to write a research thesis here. The School of Specialization completes their training, emphasising the importance both of solid practical knowledge and of humane patient-centred treatment.
In this context, the Foundation and the Cassa di Risparmio are long-standing supporters of the Institute of Clinical Neurology. The Foundation has always made significant contributions to its research projects, which are put forward for annual appraisal by selection committee. Nowadays, the restriction of funding for scientific research has greatly increased the difficulty of pursuing an academic career, especially for young people. Without the contributions of the Foundation, the Institute for Clinical Neurology would not have been able to pursue many of its projects over the last ten years. Scientific research into multiple sclerosis in the fields of neuroepidemiology and neuroimmunology, or into the neurophysiology of the cranio-mandibular functions, or into the neuropsychology of language dysfunction, could not have been carried out without this support. This funding has enabled vital research which has equipped us with indispensable and sophisticated diagnostic and scientific tools for the study of neuropathic pain, and has permitted us to sup-port the scientific activity of many young researchers.