In memory of Ennio Esposito

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Ennio Esposito, well-known neurophysiologist and neuropharmacologist, died suddenly of a heart attack, on October 23, 2011, in Guardiagrele (Chieti). For over 20 years, Ennio Esposito headed the Laboratory of Neurophysiology of the Consorzio Mario Negri Sud in Santa Maria Imbaro (Chieti), a consortium between the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmacological Research in Milan and the Province of Chieti, created in 1980 with funds from the Agenzia per il Mezzogiorno (Agency for the South ). He was born in Casalincontrada (Chieti), on 21 September 1955 and had completed his studies at the University "G. D'Annunzio "of Chieti, where he graduated in Medicine in 1981. Shortly after graduation, Ennio participated in the competition for the recruitment of personnel for the Research Center of Santa Maria Imbaro which was being established; he obtained a three-year FORMEZ scholarship and moved to the Laboratory of Neuropharmacology of the Institute of Pharmacological Research Mario Negri in Milan. In this laboratory Ennio studied the neuropharmacological basics of analgesia and the way in which antidepressant drugs operate. Under the supervision of Rosario Samanin and together with his group of young collaborators, he carried out much fruitful research, as evidenced by the several essays he published.

In 1986 Ennio moved to the U.S., with a scholarship from the European Community, to pursue his scientific studies, joining the Department of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, USA, in the laboratory of Dr. Benjamin S. Bunney. Ennio thus learned electrophysiology techniques and their application to the study of the dopaminergic system. Back in Italy, in 1989, he joined the Consorzio Mario Negri Sud, which was by then an emerging entity, with the new, modern Biomedical and Pharmacological Research Center of Santa Maria Imbaro. In this new institution, a few miles from his hometown, he created the Laboratory of Neurophysiology, where he put to use all the experience gained in Italy and the U.S., combining the electrophysiological approach with the microdialysis technique in the study of neuropharmacologic problems. Ennio worked steadily to clarify the interactions between the dopaminergic and serotonergic systems, in relation to the various drugs that affect the central nervous system. In this field Ennio quickly became a recognized expert worldwide, he published over 95 articles and book chapters and was co-editor of at least 4 books on serotonin receptors, together with his staff, Matteo Di Vincenzo and Giuseppe Di Giovanni. In recent years his interest had turned to the study of neurodegenerative diseases and the neuroprotective effect that antioxidants in the diet might have on these diseases. He actively worked with national research centers such as the Department of Neuroscience of the Mario Negri Institute in Milan, the Institute of Human Physiology "G. Pagano" of the University of Palermo, the Department of Biomedical Sciences of the University "G. D'Annunzio" of Chieti, and foreign centers, such as the Laboratoire de Neuropsychobiologie Désadaptations, CNRS, Bordeaux Cedex, France, the Department of Psychiatry and Center for Neurobiology and Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, USA, the Institute of Psychiatry of Columbia University, New York, USA. Ennio Esposito also undertook several scientific collaborations with industrial companies on the study of drugs affecting the central nervous system, such as Lundbeck A/S, Denmark, Boehringer Ingelheim, Germany, Sigma Tau, Pomezia, Italy.

Esposito was also a popular adjunct Professor in the School of Psychological Sciences, University of Chieti, where he taught from 2001 to 2008. Intellectual curiosity was the main feature which guided his professional approach to research, accompanied by rigorous method. Teaching was his second passion, which he discovered when he was already a well-known researcher. The transfer of knowledge to the younger generations, initiated by accident, became an important mission, as documented by the enthusiasm of his students and more than 70 thesis in Psychology or Pharmacy for which he was advisor at the University of Chieti and Bologna.

His competent and enthusiastic approach to research has long been an example for generations of researchers, who have worked in his laboratory, such as Vincenzo Di Matteo Simona Prisco, Giuseppe Di Giovanni, Michele Di Mascio, Roberto Di Maio, Massimo Pierucci Caterina De Ruvo, Antonella Riccio, Rosalba Amodio and others, who have retained their full admiration for his human qualities and his professional achievements.

Ennio was not only a brilliant scientist, but a colleague and friend for many people, like the companions of Milan and Santa Maria Imbaro, Antonio De Blasi, Cosmo Rossi, Saverio Alberti, Angelo Ceci, Umberto Spampinato, Vincenzo Crunelli, William R. Invernizzi, Gianluigi Forloni, Mirjana Carli, Caterina Bendotti, Maria Grazia De Simoni, Annamaria Vezzani, Mauro Pessia and others. The managers of the Consortium, Giovanni de Gaetano e Maria Benedetta Donati, initially, and Gianni Tognoni, after, his friends, colleagues and staff, want to remember his goodness, his kindness, his sense of humanity and justice.

Ennio Goodbye, your life has been well spent and will be an example for everyone, even for our troubled country, because it shows that young minds are able to stand out, to flourish and bear fruit, on a fertile soil, as it has been your case, at the Consortium.

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