top of page

Emilio Bizzi

The Paradigm

“Maybe, if I were born in a family of industrialists or lawyers I would have done completely different things. Who knows?”

When he enrolled in the Medicine Faculty at the Rome University the word "neuroscience" did not even exist yet. Today, he is a professor at the MIT and researcher at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. His studies focus on motion control, memory control and thought organisation. His passion for research has lead his career choices for all of his life. But despite that he admits he has lived in a favourable social and political context, i.e. one in which study and science were regarded as core values.


Emilio Bizzi was born in 1933. He is a neuroscientist. Bizzi graduated at the Rome University in 1958 and ten years later he obtained a research doctorate at the Pisa University. Bizzi is currently a Professor at the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and has held several offices including chairman of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department (1986-1997) and head of the Whitaker College of Health, Technology and Management Sciences (1983-1989).
He is also a member of the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze (Italian National Academy of Sciences) and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1998 he was appointed member of the renowned institution Accademia dei Lincei (Rome) and in 2001 he was appointed researcher at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research. In 2004 he was awarded a honoris causa degree in Biomedical Engineering by the Genoa University and the next year he was appointed member of the Medicine Institute of the Accademia Nazionale.
He won several awards both for his researches and academic works including, but not limited to, the Alden Spencer Award, the Hermann von Helmoltz Award for Excellence in Neurosciences and the Premio Empedocle. In 2005 he was awarded by the President of the Italian Republic the Gold Medal for his contribution to science and the next year he was appointed Chairman of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He wrote several works including textbooks, newspaper articles, papers, reviews and abstracts.
His main area of interest is understanding the way the brain controls voluntary movements, i.e. how the central nervous system translates intentions in muscular activation. This led him to concentrate on two interrelated issues: How does the brain manage the huge amount of information needed for even the simplest movements? And how can the brain generalise learning when it learns a new task? The researches he has been carrying out for several years on muscular models may lead to extremely advanced physical rehabilitation models. In addition to that his laboratory cooperates with neurosurgeons to develop a new generation of neural prostheses.

bottom of page