Remembering Laura Pozzi

Laura Pozzi, pioneer of mouse transgenesis in Italy
Laura Pozzi, pioneer of mouse transgenesis in Italy

On August 7th 2016, Laura Pozzi, a pioneer of transgenesis in Italy, passed away at the age of 80.

She was associate professor at the University “La Sapienza” in Rome and during the 80’s of the last century was among the first researchers in Italy to set up, with minimal equipments, often handmade, and with great commitment and personal sacrifice, a laboratory for the generation of transgenic mice. This facility was for a long time one of the few reference points for anyone who wanted to get a transgenic mouse in Italy, so that colleagues jokingly called her “the mother of all the Italian transgenic mice”. Over the years she trained a lot of people on transgenic technologies. On them she had a profound influence and to them she left an irreplaceable legacy of theoretical and practical knowledge that has had a strong impact on their future professional life. Many people who are now operating in the field of transgenesis in Italy, were formed at her school. She was a strict and demanding teacher, but it was so clear to us, her trainees , that her ultimate goal was to provide the best training and formation possible, that we all loved and respected her as a mother and master.

Open-minded, cultivated and great traveler, conversing with her was always pleasant and interesting. Even in private life her main purpose was to be helpful to others: she spent herself as a teacher of Italian language to foreign refugees, like a grandmother she took care of children of friends and neighbours. And all this without bragging and always with her smile and her subtle English humor that she absorbed during a long stay in Great Britain.

After retirement she always remained in touch with her former students and she followed with pleasure and interest, even though she was not a member, the ISTT site using the password of one of us. When, with advancing age, she realized that it was impossible for her to be independent as she wanted and not wanting to be a burden to anyone, with great clarity, serenity and courage she decided that her moment had arrived and left this world, recommending to friends to remember her with a smile.

Elisabetta Mattei, Laura Tatangelo and Isabella Manni

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It is with gread sadness that I learnt from Elisabetta Mattei about the recent passing of Laura Pozzi. She was my first mentor in mouse transgenesis. I was privileged to attend, as the only non-Italian trainee in a small group of five students, a two-weeks intensive practical course on the generation of transgenic mice organized in Siena in 1990, at the headquarters of the pharmaceutical company Sclavo. At the time I was still finishing my PhD in Plant Molecular Genetics, using maize as my experimental model, and I was already preparing myself to begin a future postdoctoral stay in Heidelberg as a mouse geneticist. I landed in Tuscany knowing nothing about transgenic mice and, thanks to the wisdom and teaching abilities of Laura and her team of collaborators, I left Italy with the required solid and robust starting knowledge to work with mice that has travelled with me since then. I went from maize to mice and Laura played a fundamental role in my transitioning between these two experimental models. Throughout the years I remained in touch with Laura and we often commented technical breakthroughs in the field. She was also happy to see the developments and success of the ISTT. I always had her as my first reference in mouse transgenesis. She deserves to be remembered as a most influential person for the mouse transgenics community in Italy and Europe.

Lluis Montoliu