Piano, Rubbia, Abbado, Cattaneo named life Senators

'Extraordinary scientific, social, artistic merit'

Piano, Rubbia, Abbado, Cattaneo named life Senators

(By Emily Backus) Rome, August 30 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday named four Senators for life, a power held by the head of State under the Constitution to appoint permanent members to the Upper House who have shown extraordinary scientific, social or artistic merit. Famed architect Renzo Piano, Nobel laureate particle physicist Carlo Rubbia, world-renowned music conductor Claudio Abbado and pharmacology professor and stem-cell expert Elena Cattaneo are to be given lifetime Senate seats. Napolitano notified Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso of the nominations, which required decrees signed also by Premier Enrico Letta. The president telephoned each of the candidates to inform and congratulate them personally. The appointments take the number of life Senators back up to five. Former Italian president Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and ex-premier Mario Monti were left as the only two life Senators after the deaths this past year of former statesman Giulio Andreotti, ex-premier Emilio Colombo and car designer Sergio Pininfarina. Claudio Abbado, 80, has conducted many of the world's leading orchestras. He has served as music director at the La Scala opera house in Milan, principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, music director of the Vienna State Opera, principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and, from 1989 to 2002, principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic. Awards and honors received by Abbado include two Grammy awards and four honorary doctorates. In April 2012, he was voted into the Gramaphone Hall of Fame. Abbado has also taken an active role in promoting young musical talent by founding new orchestras, like the European Youth Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Mozart Orchestra. Genoese architect Renzo Piano, 75, has worked on the designs of many of the globe's modern landmarks, including London's Shard skyscraper, the Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, Potzdammer Platz masterplan in Berlin, the Kansai airport in Japan, the Nemo Science Museum in Amsterdam, and the New York Times building in Manhattan. In addition to winning architecture's coveted Pritzker Prize, Piano has received the Kyoto Prize, Amsterdam's Erasmus award, the RIBA Gold Medal, the Sonning Prize, and the AIA Gold Medal, among other honours. He has been UNESCO's goodwill ambassador for cities since 1994. In 2004 he founded the Renzo Piano Foundation, a non-profit organization for supporting young architects based in Genoa. Elena Cattaneo, born in 1962, earned her doctorate in pharmacology from Milan University and became a full professor in 2003. Cattaneo for three years researched brain stem cells in a laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. Upon returning to Italy, she founded - and now directs - a Milan University laboratory for stem-cell research in neurodegenerative diseases, devoting herself to the study of Huntington's disease, a genetically transmitted, neurodegenerative disease. Cattaneo has been Italy's national representative for genetic and biotechnological research in the European Union. She led the European NeuroStemcell project, a 12-million-euro, four-year consortium to develop stem-cell-based therapies for Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases. From October 2013, Cattaneo will be coordinating the NeuroStemcellrepair project under the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Particle physicist and Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia, born in 1934, has been a researcher at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, since 1961, and served as its managing director from 1989 to 1993. He has also been a physics professor at Harvard University for 18 years. Rubbia shared the Nobel prize for physics in 1984 with Simon van der Meer for their 1983 discovery of the W and Z particles, carrier particles that mediate weak nuclear force. W particles have a role in nuclear decay. Z particles are their own antiparticles. Rubbia holds 32 honorary degrees in addition to his doctorate from Columbia University in New York City and undergraduate degree from the Scuola Normale of Pisa.

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